Vincent Ho Chak-yiu declared “we can do whatever we want now” after Golden Sixty’s winning streak ended and Sunday’s imperious victory in the Champions Mile suggests Hong Kong racing’s pin-up pair will very much continue to do as they please for some time yet.
Sent out a $1.40 favourite, Golden Sixty tracked the strong speed set by Zac Purton aboard four-year-old California Spangle ($2.60) before powering home to beat the rising star by two lengths.
“He did well. He travelled very comfortably. When Zac steadied the pace a little bit, he started to travel a bit keen but I’m glad he’s strong enough and brave enough to push that gap open and run them down easily,” Ho said.
“He still wanted to slow down a bit the last couple of strides but he did amazing.”
CHAMPION! 👑— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) April 24, 2022
Golden Sixty wins his second G1 FWD Champions Mile for @Vincenthocy & Francis Lui, becoming Hong Kong's highest earner in history with HK$113,400,600! 💰#FWDChampionsDay | #HKracing pic.twitter.com/91vtcKIw05
Ho has spoken about the freedom he now feels after Golden Sixty fell one short of Silent Witness’ Hong Kong record of 17 straight wins and the jockey is using it as a weapon.
After taking the blame for getting too far back when the reigning Horse of the Year lost for the first time in well over two years in January’s Stewards’ Cup, Ho has been far more positive in his past two rides aboard Golden Sixty following a second straight loss in February’s Gold Cup on yielding ground.
Ho also spoke about have nothing to lose following January’s defeat and that attitude has allowed the galloper to again show his best – first in the Chairman’s Trophy earlier this month and then on Sunday – and there is nothing to suggest Golden Sixty won’t continue to build on his glittering CV next season.
“He can really follow the pace now, not like before when he needed to sit behind to start and sometimes got too far behind. He’s really stepping up,” trainer Francis Lui Kin-wai said. “It’s not easy to have a horse who wins so many races. We are very happy.”
In powering home to win a second Champions Mile, Golden Sixty joined Beauty Generation as the only gallopers to do the Hong Kong Mile-Champions Mile double in consecutive seasons.
He also sailed past Beauty Generation’s Hong Kong prize-money record, taking his winnings to more than HK$113 million, and won with such authority that an unlikely trip to Japan for June’s Yasuda Kinen remains on the table.
Teetan rounds off fantastic week with QE II Cup win aboard Romantic Warrior
“We will have a good think about Japan now, it will all depend on how he pulls up from the run and what the quarantine restrictions are,” Lui said.
The victory was Golden Sixty’s sixth at Group One level and 21st overall – no other horse has won more than 18 Hong Kong races – and Ho offered something of an understatement when labelling him “once in a lifetime”.
Classic Cup winner California Spangle finished second in the Classic Mile and the Hong Kong Derby behind Romantic Warrior, who was a dominant winner of Sunday’s Group One QE II Cup (2,000m), and while he was again the bridesmaid, it was a performance that suggested his time at the top level may well come.
Speared into his customary lead role by Purton, California Spangle travelled over a second inside standard for the first 800m but still stayed on to beat everyone else in a field of seasoned gallopers.
The John Size-trained Excellent Proposal put in his best run of the season to finish third – half a length adrift of California Spangle – and stablemate Champion’s Way was fourth in his best Group One result.