Vincent Ho Chak-yiu is ready to shoulder the weight of expectation when he jumps aboard Derby hero Golden Sixty for the first time at the races in six months on Sunday.
The now five-year-old resumes following his thrilling Derby win last season after trainer Francis Lui Kin-wai opted against running him on Champions Day in April to allow him to mature further.
With the Jockey Club in dire need of a new pin-up horse, Golden Sixty has emerged as the hope of the side and he will face the legendary Beauty Generation in Sunday’s Group Three Celebration Cup (1,400m) in what shapes as a battle of the new and the old.
With an 18-pound weight allowance over Beauty Generation, many expect Golden Sixty’s young legs to zoom by Beauty Generation and Ho is ready for the challenge.
“I am really excited, it is just great to be back on him, it has been a while,” he said of the horse he was undefeated on last season.
“It is the first time he has raced against the big boys but we do have the lighter weight. Mentally and physically he feels more switched on now, he is a lot calmer this year, it seems he learned a lot.”
The 30-year-old jockey is somewhat of a Beauty Generation slayer, twice toppling him last season, first aboard Rise High in the Group Two Oriental Watch Trophy (1,600m) and then with Southern Legend in the Group One Champions Mile.
A quiet leg-stretch at the rear of the field for Golden Sixty (@Vincenthocy).— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) September 17, 2020
Next stop... the G3 Celebration Cup (1400m) against Beauty Generation on 27 September. #HKracing pic.twitter.com/dRyXi5G5PF
While he wants to see it on the racetrack, Ho believes Golden Sixty could be a better horse than both Rise High and Southern Legend if he comes back in form.
Ho said he was happy to forgive Golden Sixty’s two uninspiring trials due to the heavy track conditions, saying he put in a solid gallop on the grass recently to suggest he is back on track.
“The track conditions weren’t as planned with all of the kickback in the trials but we gave him a grass gallop last week and that was good,” he said. “He feels good, he has been working well. I think he is [a better horse], he has been able to mature.
“Let’s see if he can [beat Beauty Generation], it’s not that fair because there is a lot of weight allowance for us.”
Fittingly, Beauty Generation and Golden Sixty have drawn barriers one and two but their different running styles suggest they are unlikely to see each other in the run until the shadows of the post.
In his three runs over 1,400m last season, Golden Sixty settled no closer than sixth, with Ho opting to use his brilliant burst of acceleration to get him out of trouble, while Beauty Generation is expected to race handy and make his own luck in front.
With Beauty Generation’s massive 130 top rating skewering the weights in the race, four horses will be running out of the handicap.
Regular “pest” Ka Ying Star will be sure to pressure Beauty Generation should jockey Zac Purton elect to roll forward from his inside draw.
Golden Sixty’s regular four-year-old series rival Champion’s Way will also line-up as he looks to win for the first time since June 2019.