Vincent Ho Chak-yiu believes Hong Kong Derby hero Golden Sixty has returned from his five-month hiatus bigger and better as he and Francis Lui Kin-wai plot a programme for the now five-year-old.
Golden Sixty, who swept the Classic Series last season in an unbeaten run that stretched seven races, stepped out on Friday for his first serious hit out since his Derby romp in March.
After racing keenly out of the gates, Golden Sixty was restrained by Ho who then let the star gelding run on to finish strongly in the trial.
“He felt well, we just let him have a stretch out, it was easy,” he said.
“There was a lot of kickback today so I tried to stay away from it and let him enjoy it. I think he has improved this year.”
The son of Medaglia d’Oro boasts a record of 10 wins from 11 starts but will face his toughest test this season when he is forced to compete in Group company against the likes of Beauty Generation and Waikuku.
The first challenge is likely to come at the end of the month when he is expected to line up in the Celebration Cup.
“There is a Group Three that is 1,400m so that should be first-up for him,” Ho said.
“Then whether or not we go to the [Group Two Sha Tin Trophy] mile in October, we will wait and see.
“It will be dependent on his work and what he tells us, there is no rush, we need to let him enjoy what he does.”
After taking him on the ride of his life last season, Ho is now looking to branch out to find horses other than Golden Sixty who can give him the Group One winning feeling.
The top local jockey secured his first international Group One victory on Southern Legend in the Champions Mile last season and hopes to improve his off track performances as much as his on track efforts to lift him further up the pecking order.
“On my side, it is on me to keep improving, work hard and focus on this season ahead of us,” he said.
“Secondly for me, it is to find good rides. It is so competitive in Hong Kong so I have to work hard to find those rides.
“It has been my weakness, trying to find and manage my rides but it is something I am really working on.”
Ho will kick off season 2020-21 with eight rides at Sha Tin on Sunday which include Fat Turtle, Star Shine and Dublin Star.