Golden Sixty ready for Hong Kong Mile
4YO champ wins Group 2 Sha Tin feature to stay unbeaten in last nine starts
Golden Sixty took another important step towards December's Longines Hong Kong International Races with victory in Sunday's Group 2 Oriental Watch Sha Tin Trophy Handicap over 1,600m.
The result confirmed a changing of the guard at the very top of Hong Kong's pecking order.
It was the Francis Lui-trained gelding ninth straight win and his 12th from 13 starts.
He comfortably despatched several of Hong Kong's best performers of recent seasons, including dual Horse of the Year Beauty Generation.
Last season's Four-Year-Old Classic Series champion, under Vincent Ho, quickened from midfield with a closing 400m sectional in 21.81sec.
It was his fastest since his slick 21.65sec recorded when he won in Class 2 at this fixture last year. Then, he beat Encouraging, the Sha Tin 1,400m track record holder.
Adding further merit to his time and performance, the Medaglia d'Oro gelding seemingly switched off once he hit the front as if the job was done.
Just a few reminders from Ho and he kicked on for a soft half-length win from the Chad Schofield-ridden Ka Ying Star.
Southern Legend (Karis Teetan) finished third.
Beauty Generation (Zac Purton) faded to sixth.
"He does switch off, two maybe three strides after he hits the front, he always does - that's why he never wins by huge margins," said Ho.
The newly turned five-year-old, who swept aside his four-year-old peers last season, followed his first-up Group 3 Celebration Cup Handicap (1,400m) success with another impressive display which confirms he is Hong Kong's new star.
"He's come on really well. Today he settled a lot more, really well behind the gate and inside the gate. He was so relaxed and, with each run, his fitness is coming on," said Ho.
With the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Mile on the radar, Golden Sixty firmly set himself as Hong Kong's leading contender in the race which local horses have generally dominated.
"Before the race, I was a bit nervous, but now I'm happy," said trainer Lui.
"The horse, his mind and fitness are improving. We'll keep him at the same distance."
Golden Sixty broke evenly to settle in fifth, before peeling out at the 300m mark to hit the front. He held on tenaciously to win.
"He jumped well. We sat behind the pace and they went really slow. When the other horse accelerated a bit, I just gave him a reminder. He's a very smart horse," said Ho.
"He always tends to lay in a little bit - Chad was on my inside and I think once Golden Sixty hit the front, he thought the job was done. He sort of put his head up and started looking around.
"I had to remind him that there was someone coming back on the inside." - HKJC