Gold Gold Baby has not scored any DBS x Manulife Million Challenge points, but Francis Lui Kin-wai’s gelding could become the first galloper to win four times at Happy Valley this season when he rises in grade again on Wednesday night.
Unlike the other three-time Happy Valley winners this term – Caspar Fownes-conditioned Nearly Fine and Tony Cruz-trained Street Scream – Gold Gold Baby does not feature on the Million Challenge leader board because his three victories and one fourth placing have occurred in Class Four and Class Five races, none of which count towards the competition that is worth HK$650,000 to the winner.
Gold Gold Baby was languishing in Class Five when he began his campaign over 1,000m at the opening Happy Valley meeting of the season on September 14, but three successes and a fourth from his four starts at the city circuit have propelled him into Class Three, the grade of Wednesday night’s card-closing Hip Wo Handicap (1,200m).
Now rated 63, Gold Gold Baby has been very much a slow burner, with his only real sign of promise before this term got under way coming when he finished third to Carry The Diamond over 1,000m at Happy Valley on his final start last season.
It is perhaps no coincidence that the son of Warrior’s Reward’s improvement has come under Vincent Ho Chak-yiu, who is enjoying a wonderful campaign.
Ho’s fabulous four-timer at Sha Tin on New Year’s Day enabled him to become the most successful active local jockey, usurping Matthew Chadwick, who is out of action because of injury. At Ho’s current strike rate, he will ride his 500th winner before the end of this term.
Ho, who had partnered Gold Gold Baby in his first two appearances, jumped back aboard for the Lui-trained gelding’s seventh start, and the pair have not looked back since.
Starting in the basement division with a wide-margin victory over Raging Blaze, Gold Gold Baby made light of his nine-point penalty to win in Class Four next time out.
Unbelievable win! 🤯— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) October 19, 2022
Eyes on the second-to-last horse, Gold Gold Baby, who produces an almighty effort to win as favourite for @Vincenthocy in the third race at Happy Valley. #HappyWednesday | #HKracing pic.twitter.com/dok2HtJKXh
On that occasion, Gold Gold Baby was last but one turning into the Happy Valley straight, but he came home with his customary late flourish to nail Sergeant Pepper on the line.
Raised another seven points for that triumph, the only blot on his copybook this season came when he stepped up to 1,200m in November and finished fourth as the $2 favourite.
It was not really a case of back to the drawing board for Lui and Ho because no reason was found for Gold Gold Baby’s flop, and just three weeks later he resumed the winning thread when he overcame the disadvantage of gate 10 to record an impressive victory after again being well back in the run – he was five lengths off the lead with 200m to go.
That success resulted in another nine-point penalty for Gold Gold Baby and a rise in grade for the Hip Wo Handicap, in which he will have his work cut out against the likes of Beauty Charge, Heroic Master and Lord Thunder, but he is in the form of his life.
Lui, who fired blanks at Sha Tin on New Year’s Day, is in the thick of the trainers’ premiership race on 22 wins, just three victories fewer than Frankie Lor Fu-chuen and Cruz.
Lui has five runners across Happy Valley’s nine-race midweek programme.
Aside from Gold Gold Baby, the best chance of adding to his tally of wins appears to be Yellowfin, who has been unlucky not to shed his maiden tag.
After finishing in the first four in the past seven of his eight starts, Yellowfin would not be winning out of turn if he was victorious in the first section of the Class Four Mut Wah Handicap (1,200m), with Ho steering the four-year-old galloper for the fourth time.