Pick up a form guide and look at Golden Sixty’s record and you’ll see something that resembles a picket fence more than it does a horse’s results.
The pride of Hong Kong has belted his opposition from pillar to post during 10 consecutive victories, which included a clean sweep of the four-year-old series last season and a comfortable win in the Group Two Jockey Club Mile last start.
While he is seemingly invincible in Hong Kong, there was a day it came horribly unstuck for the pin-up boy, but connections are using that moment to help ensure they never make the same mistake again.
“He should not have ever run in that race,” regular jockey Vincent Ho Chak-yiu said of the defeat in July 2019, which came in his fourth career start.
“I have said many times, after he won those three straight we decided to put him away for the summer.”
As a precocious three-year-old, Golden Sixty impressed over 1,200m in his first three starts.
But, as is the case with most young horses in Hong Kong, connections begin to dream about the four-year-old series the following season, causing trainer Francis Lui Kin-wai to bring his young star back for one more run to see what he had up his sleeve.
Hong Kong’s Aussie superstar, Golden Sixty (13 wins from 14 starts) has drawn barrier 7 for Sunday’s HK$25 million (A$4.3 million) Group 1 @Longines Hong Kong Mile over 1600m at Sha Tin.@HKJC_Racing @theTDN @BloodHorse @bloodstocknews @worldsbesthorse @WHR @RacingPost pic.twitter.com/CtRPM8DEWt— Aushorse (@Aushorse_TBA) December 10, 2020
“For some reason he came back out to step-up in distance to 1,400m without any trials and without enough work,” Ho remembers.
“So he went in fresh to 1,400m for the first time, that’s why he got a little bit keen and it ended badly.
“He should not have been running in that race, I never wanted to run that race. I thought we would put him away for the next season.”
Sent out a $2.50 favourite, Golden Sixty could only finish 10th.
From that day on, Ho says a lesson was learned and the numbers back that up – 10 straight victories and HK$38 million in the bank, highlighted by a barnstorming Hong Kong Derby victory.
“It’s not annoying,” Ho says of the blemish on his record. “We know we cannot rush him now. We can’t just make a split-second decision and expect it to just happen.
“I wish he could have that perfect record, it’s a pity he doesn’t but that is the way it is now – it’s over, we don’t look back.”
With the world at their feet after their Derby victory in March, Golden Sixty was expected to go on and test himself in Group One company for the first time in the Champions Mile, but with his stinging defeat still fresh in their minds, connections backed off.
The son of Medaglia d’Oro wouldn’t be seen for six months, only returning for the Group Three Celebration Cup (1,400m) in September, where he would go on to crush the likes of Beauty Generation and Southern Legend – a ringing endorsement of the decision made six months earlier.
“The long break last season gave him enough time off to let him build a bit,” Ho said. “He did get stronger over the break, he feels way better than last season.”
History now awaits Ho and Golden Sixty in the Hong Kong Mile as they attempt to win their first Group One together and become the first horse since Silent Witness to win 11 straight races in this jurisdiction.
In front of him stands Japanese raider Admire Mars and Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Order Of Australia.
Ho couldn’t be happier with where his charge is at, but you won’t see him weighing in on the chances of the overseas brigade.
“Of course I check out the international horses, everyone has to focus and do their own job,” he said. “But there is no point getting involved in other people’s business so I’ll do my form as I usually do it and see how we go.”