It was a little bit tighter than punters would’ve liked but Hong Kong superstar Golden Sixty extended his winning streak to 12 despite a few challenges in Sunday’s Group One Stewards’ Cup.
The final margin was a head – the gutsy Southern Legend as honest as ever in second – but jockey Vincent Ho Chak-yiu was always confident Francis Lui Kin-wai’s once-in-a-lifetime horse had everyone covered, despite a handful of things going wrong in the run.
Given his form, it was hard to see Golden Sixty being beaten – and that’s why he jumped a $1.20 favourite – but it didn’t all go exactly to plan once the gates opened.
Zac Purton set a dawdling pace up front on Ka Ying Star and Golden Sixty over-raced down the back straight before getting into his groove.
But when the sprint was on at the top of the straight, the saddle slipped under Ho, adding an extra degree of difficulty to his task.
Ultimately, Golden Sixty was good enough to overcome it all – like he has been for most of his career – taking his record to a stunning 15 wins from 16 starts and adding a second Group One to his resume.
It wasn’t the easiest task for Ho, but he took it all in his stride.
“Top athletes and top horses need to overcome all different kinds of circumstances, even something you can’t predict – you have to always be ready for that,” he said.
“They went pretty slow all the way actually, so he was a little keen. He managed to settle but he was pulling a little bit.
“The saddle slipped back a little bit at the 300m, but it was still OK, just not as comfortable for me or for Golden Sixty.
“I knew I would get there but it was quite close.”
Lui was also a little anxious about how things were panning out in transit but was happy to laugh about it after the presentations.
“In the straight I was a bit worried, the pace had been a bit slow, but it’s all OK now,” he joked.
After winning his past four starts over 1,600m, Golden Sixty is now likely to step up to the 2,000m of the Group One Hong Kong Gold Cup, a distance he’s raced at once before when winning last year’s Hong Kong Derby.
“It all depends on how he pulls up,” Lui said. “I think [I’d like to step him up to 2,000m now].”
Caspar Fownes’ eight-year-old Southern Legend continues to race as well as ever as he backed up his second to Golden Sixty in the last month’s Hong Kong Mile and repeated the dose.
The early leader Ka Ying Star stuck on for third, three-quarters of a length behind the winner, while Waikuku finished fourth.