There are host of unknowns for Francis Lui Kin-wai ahead of Golden Sixty’s attempt to make it three wins from as many starts at Sha Tin on Saturday and one of those is whether the horse is well enough to reproduce its recent form.
While the presence of the Chris So Wai-yin-trained Mr Croissant and a couple of likely first-starters will ensure a hot race, Lui’s concerns about how things will pan out lie closer to home.
“He’s OK, he’s struggling a little bit at the moment – he’s only three years old,” Lui said. “I’m not saying his form isn’t good, his form is good.
“It’s just his appetite, he doesn’t have a good appetite and he’s lost a little bit of weight, so I am a little bit worried about this.”
Golden Sixty has been nothing but impressive in his two starts to date, winning comfortably on debut as the favourite in Class Four over 1,200m in March.
The gelding then handled the step-up in class with aplomb, seeing off the likes of John Moore’s Dan Control and subsequent John Size winner Aerohappiness from the tricky barrier 12 to keep his unblemished record intact.
Leading local jockey Vincent Ho Chak-yiu has been in the saddle for both victories and again takes the ride, this time from the far more favourable gate three.
Lui said he remains hopeful Golden Sixty can again get the job done this weekend but knows how much needs to go right for a horse to win in Hong Kong.
“If he had strengthened a little bit more I would be happier,” he said. “Hopefully he can win, but I don’t know about the quality of some of the young horses.”
There are three first-starters in the race and all of them have shown something at the trials as they look to hit the ground running in Hong Kong.
While the Manfred Man Ka-leung-trained Star Of Yuen Long, who won twice in New Zealand from sevens starts, was a fair way off the pace on the all-weather track in his most recent trial, he looked better when second in a trial on the Happy Valley turf in early May.
The other two – Frankie Lor Fu-chuen’s Beauty Spark and the John Size-trained Ping Hai Galaxy – both have trial wins to their name and look to have plenty of potential.
Beauty Spark arrived in Hong Kong after two wins from two starts in Australia but was scratched before his intended first start in May with lameness.
He looks likely to be competitive immediately after winning two of his four trials and finishing second in another, and with Zac Purton in the saddle on Saturday he is sure to get every chance.
Ping Hai Galaxy also won twice from as many outings in Australia and trialled nicely last week when second behind My Power after beating home Reliable Team, who saluted at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, in his first trial.