The local champion has drawn barrier two and trainer Francis Liu Kin-wai hopes Golden Sixty can simply work his magic from there come Sunday’s HK$26 million Longines Hong Kong Mile.
“Barrier two is OK,” said Liu. “We’ll just relax him and wait for the straight … and then we can just let him go. In all of a lifetime I think you can’t find this kind of horse. I’m lucky and Hong Kong is lucky to have him, too.”
And the odds are that Hong Kong’s hero will duly deliver, with overseas bookies setting the six-year-old at $1.60 after Thursday’s barrier draw at Sha Tin.
What has helped Golden Sixty’s hopes is the fact that his chief rival for the big race – the Kiyoshi Hagiwara-trained Danon Kingly – drew awkwardly (gate nine) in the 11-horse field and that will no doubt give jockey Yuga Kawada pause for thought as they head down the long back straight from the 1,600m chute.
Then of course there is the form Golden Sixty has shown, having swept past his rivals in the Jockey Club Mile on November 21 from pretty much a standing start, given the plodding pace of the race, with an effort that left jockey Vincent Ho Chak-yiu shaking his head in wonderment at the effort.
Liu explained his stable star had come back from his off-season break a different horse, a slightly frightening notion given that Golden Sixty is currently on a 15-race winning streak and has amassed more than HK$80 million in prize money.
“We are very happy with him. He came out of that first run very well,” explained Liu. “In that race over the first 800m the pace was very slow. That gave the other horses a little trouble but Golden Sixty has just got a very good turn of foot now. He knows where the finish is.
“He hadn’t run for a few months and when it came time to run first time he was more mature. He is more relaxed, more comfortable.”
Danon Kingly has been among the trackwork stars this week, with another cracking hit-out on Thursday morning, but decisions will now have to be made as to how the five-year-old Yasuda Kinen hero takes the race – and Golden Sixty – on.
Liu has been happy with his charge’s work across the week as Golden Sixty looks for back-to-back victories in the Mile, a feat which will place him alongside superstars Good Ba Ba (2007, 2008, 2009) and Beauty Generation (2017, 2018) as Hong Kong-trained horses with multiple wins in the race.
“He is all ready and we’re hoping that luck will come to my team and my owner – and to me too,” said Liu.
The HK$24 million Sprint (1,200m) remains somewhat of a mystery given mixed form and questions about the quality of the locals, along with a feeling this will be the biggest test yet for rising Japanese star Pixie Knight.
The Hidetaka Otonashi-trained visitor drew eight while Richard Gibson’s Wellington was lumped with gate 11 as the Chairman’s Sprint Prize winner looks to further fulfil his own potential.
“In the Sprint you want some draw assistance and we didn’t get the draw assistance, but last year’s winner was drawn 12 and if he’s good enough, that’s where he comes from,” Gibson said. “I think he’s sharper than he was [last start] and he trialled really well the other day, so he’s in good shape.”
There would have been smiles in the Yoshito Yahagi camp back home in Japan as their champion mare Loves Only You landed barrier four in the HK$30 million Cup (2,000m), her farewell to racing.