Golden Sixty will attempt to secure another remarkable milestone to his glittering record at Sha Tin on FWD Champions Day (Sunday, 30 April) when the seven-year-old chases an unmatched third straight HK$20 million G1 FWD Champions Mile (1600m).
No horse has ever won three editions of the race, let alone in succession, but the latter is what Golden Sixty is aiming to achieve – a feat that Bullish Luck (2005 & 2006), Xtension (2011 & 2012) and Beauty Generation (2018 & 2019) all tried and failed.
Golden Sixty boasts 24 wins from 28 starts and the most prize money (HK$136.53 million) in Hong Kong racing history. He was unbeaten across 16 starts at one time, swept the 2020 Four-Year-Old Classic Series and is justly debated as Hong Kong’s greatest ever horse.
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Sharp Work Week for Golden Sixty
Stepping out this morning (Thursday, 27 April) for trainer Francis Lui on the turf course at Sha Tin, Hong Kong’s champion strode powerfully under jockey Vincent Ho through his work and ahead of stablemate Cheerful Days, clocking 1m 26.5s as the final major tune-up for the two-time Hong Kong Horse of the Year (2020/21 & 2021/22).
“He looked great when he walked past (after galloping). Everything is smooth and I am very happy with him,” Lui said. “He brings us a lot of fun, every time after he runs, we all feel confident. It brings me pride, of course.”
Ho echoed the trainer’s sentiment with a glowing evaluation: “He’s one of the best horses, I don’t feel any sign of him going downhill. His mind is mature, even more mature, so I think it is his best season – with his mind he is improving and physically he is not going downhill.”
Golden Sixty has won three times from four starts this campaign with his only loss coming in the 2022 G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (1600m) to California Spangle – a horse he has since beaten once at Group 1 level.
“He’s well and he felt good, he’s fit and he looks amazing. He felt great underneath me,” Ho said.
Golden Sixty won the 2022 FWD Champions Mile by a comfortable two lengths, while in 2021 his former stablemate More Than This closed to within a head. Able One is the fifth two-time winner of the race with his wins spaced apart in 2007 and 2010.
Golden Sixty’s enduring greatness has been a hallmark of his career with Lui expecting Hong Kong’s superstar to carry on through next season as an eight-year-old.
“I don’t feel any pressure, the pressure before the race is that I hope he can win, always. I am calm now, I hope he has a happy ending (retirement). Every time we plan, we do it after the race and my future plan is another Hong Kong Mile in December,” Lui said.
The son of Medaglia d’Oro won the LONGINES Hong Kong Mile in 2020 and 2021 before California Spangle thwarted his record-equalling hat-trick bid earlier this season.
With wins in the G1 Stewards’ Cup (1600m) and G1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m) this season, Golden Sixty could attempt to join only the great River Verdon (1994) with victory in all three legs of Hong Kong’s Triple Crown.
“We are thinking about the Triple Crown, if we don’t go for the Triple Crown it will be his last run for this season,” Lui said.
The third and final leg of the Triple Crown is the G1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (2400m) which takes place on 28 May at Sha Tin.
Golden Sixty will break from barrier seven in Sunday’s FWD Champions Mile, while at home, the veteran galloper is still his usual playful and lively self.
“Every time when I go to his box, I stay outside, I won’t go inside and I take him a carrot. He loves them and every time he has his first bite of a carrot, he nearly finishes it,” Lui said.
“The team looks after him very well, everyone is terrific and it is a team effort.”
Ho will seek a fourth consecutive win in the FWD Champions Mile following Golden Sixty’s heroics in 2021 and 2022 as well as Southern Legend’s win in 2020.
Good Ba Ba remains the only three-time winner of the LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (2007-2009), while this weekend’s contest was first run in 2001 and won by Red Pepper.
Sunday’s (30 April) 10-race FWD Champions Day fixture kicks off at 12.45pm with the Class 4 FWD Insurance Goahead Group Handicap (2000m).