Golden Sixty made it nine wins in a row in the Oriental Watch Sha Tin Trophy (1,600m) on Sunday, answering his first Group Two challenge with ease to continue his march towards the Hong Kong International Races.
The record shows the Francis Lui Kin-wai-trained star only finished half a length ahead of runner-up Ka Ying Star but it was the way the galloper reeled in the leaders to hit the front 200m from home that was most impressive.
“He always tends to lay in a bit and once my horse hit the front, he thought ‘job done’. He put his head up and was looking around,” said jockey Vincent Ho Chak-yiu.
“He does switch off, that’s why he never wins by a huge margin. He knows when he chases down the other horses, it’s finished, but sometimes it’s not.”
Golden Sixty has won 12 of his 13 starts and Ho is confident the son of Medaglia d’Oro is tracking perfectly towards his first crack at Group One glory in December’s Hong Kong Mile.
“Today he settled a lot more in the parade ring, behind the gates and in the gates – he was so relaxed,” Ho said. “Each run his fitness is coming on and hopefully by December he should be [at his peak].”
Golden Sixty hasn’t been beaten in over 15 months and Ho can’t see that changing any time soon, suggesting none of the current challengers are likely to halt his winning streak.
“At the moment, maybe not, but some up-and-coming star like Sky Field [might beat him] and there are always good horses coming,” the jockey said when asked if there is a horse in Hong Kong that could beat Golden Sixty.
Lui confirmed last season’s Derby hero will stick to a mile, with his next assignment coming in the Group Two Jockey Club Mile at level weights on November 22.
“The horse’s mind and fitness is improving, we’ll stick to the same distance,” he said.
Golden Sixty settled fifth as Ka Ying Star set a leisurely pace in front before exploding in the home straight to pull a length clear and coast to victory.
Southern Legend finished third, two and a quarter lengths off the winner, while dual Horse of the Year Beauty Generation faded into sixth after rounding the home turn just behind the leader.
After finishing a length and three quarters behind Golden Sixty over 1,400m last month, eight-time Group One winner Beauty Generation found himself three and a half lengths adrift on Sunday.
“I thought he was better first-up than second-up but his second-up record is not as good as his third and fourth-up record,” trainer David Hayes said, adding that a gear change is in order ahead of the Jockey Club Mile.
“He raced like a horse that needs a set of blinkers, when you look back you see the pink blinkers on him for most of his big wins. When he ran well first-up I felt that he needed them and I’ll put them on him now.”
Hayes also had Chefano in the race, who stuck on nicely for seventh in what the trainer described as a “very good run” as the horse plots a course towards the Hong Kong Vase.