Francis Lui Kin-wai will take two leading contenders into the Classic Mile later this month after his stable star Golden Sixty blitzed his rivals in an impressive four-year-old series audition.
There have long been Classic Mile ambitions for the talented gelding but Wednesday’s demolition of the Group Three Chinese Club Challenge Cup (1,400m) put to bed any doubts about his class.
Jockey Vincent Ho Chak-yiu parked Golden Sixty midfield on the rail, before muscling his way out at the top of the straight to win.
In doing so, Golden Sixty beat home fellow Classic Mile aspirant Champion’s Way.
Hong Kong Classic Mile?— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) January 1, 2020
Golden Sixty makes it 4⃣ consecutive wins this season, cruising to victory in the G3 Chinese Club Challenge Cup for Vincent Ho & Francis Lui. #HKracing pic.twitter.com/5XclSmG82i
Golden Sixty is now unbeaten in four starts this season and has progressed from Class Three flawlessly.
“I am happy to see him run like that,” Lui said. “Of course it is a surprise to see him win all his races but he has a very big fighting heart, you can see every race he tries his best.”
Despite never having raced over 1,600m, Lui said he held no fears about Golden Sixty’s ability to see out the trip on January 27.
While the 1,600m trip harboured no concerns for Lui, he was coy about a potential trip to the lucrative Hong Kong Derby in March.
“You can see in his last run, he started to relax a little bit so I think he can handle it [1,600m] no problem,” he said.
“Of course, he is four-year-old so we will enter [the Derby], but I have to look at the Classic Mile first.
“The main thing is that he has a very big heart, you can see when he goes out onto the track, he just wants to get out there. Now in races, he relaxes very well.”
In addition to Golden Sixty, Lui will saddle up 97-rater More Than This who has already tackled the 1,600m trip.
Since being well beaten in his first three Hong Kong starts last season, More Than This has been untouchable in his next four after Lui elected to remove the blinkers.
With Golden Sixty set to be rated around 110 after Wednesday’s victory, Lui said he had no leanings between his two charges heading into the HK$10 million feature.
“I have no preference between them, it would all come down to how they perform on the day,” he said.
“I think both horses will go to the Classic Mile. More Than This will go to the Derby but this one [Golden Sixty], I need to see how he runs in the Classic Mile first.”
The John Size-trained Champion’s Way made significant ground from the rear of the field although was well beaten by Golden Sixty.
Giving weight away to Golden Sixty on Wednesday, Champion’s Way will return to set weights in the Classic Mile in what is shaping as one of the strongest editions in years.
Champion’s Way had disappointed in his two previous starts this season, finishing ninth and seventh, but showed he was still able to produce his trademark turn of foot that saw him win a Group Three last season.