Jockey Vincent Ho Chak-yiu was just as stunned as the Sha Tin crowd after Golden Sixty’s superb Group One Hong Kong Gold Cup (2,000m) victory on Sunday, pointing to the two-time Horse of the Year in amazement after his latest act of wonder.

Ho timed things to perfection in a contest that was supposed to play into Romantic Warrior’s hands, stalking the $1.5 favourite aboard Golden Sixty before hitting the front in the final 50m and saluting by a head.

“To be honest, I expected the other horse would have beaten us. I just had to stay close [to Romantic Warrior] and don’t let him get away too far,” Ho said, after Golden Sixty added the second leg of the Triple Crown to his Stewards’ Cup victory last month.

Golden Sixty snared his eighth Group One victory – drawing level with Beauty Generation – and added further weight to records he already holds by landing his 24th career win – by far the most by a Hong Kong-trained horse – and pushing his prize money past HK$136 million.

Vincent Ho shows his appreciation for Golden Sixty after their Gold Cup win at Sha Tin on Sunday.

For his second start in a row, Golden Sixty’s backers were rewarded with a less prohibitive price than he has often gone around, and they would have been very pleased with themselves as the $2.3 chance shadowed Romantic Warrior into the straight.

After jumping cleanly, Golden Sixty briefly held Romantic Warrior three wide entering the first turn before Ho settled the superstar one out, one back on the favourite’s tail.

As Money Catcher set a lead speed around 10 lengths inside standard from the 1,600m to the 800m, Ho had to ask a bit of Golden Sixty down the back straight to ensure he stayed within a couple of lengths of Romantic Warrior in a race run in 1:59.98 – the second quickest 2,000m Gold Cup time on record behind Time Warp’s 2018 victory in 1:59.97.

Teetan set Romantic Warrior alight about 600m from home and looked to give him every chance, but Golden Sixty had all the answers, prevailing after a ding-dong battle down the Sha Tin straight between Hong Kong’s two highest-rated horses, with Money Catcher a length and a half away in third.

“He was very relaxed today. I even had to ask him a little to keep up today in the back straight and, of course, I had another great horse to follow through and ask for the full effort at the 200m,” Ho said.

“He’s too relaxed now. He’s getting older – maybe he needs the blinkers soon – but when I asked him, he gave that effort, so it’s fine. He’s got a great heart, and he’s always trying his best.”

Trainer Danny Shum Chap-shing walked away happy with Romantic Warrior’s runner-up effort – his first loss at 2,000m after winning the Hong Kong Derby, the QE II Cup and the Hong Kong Cup at the trip – and confirmed the five-year-old’s next main target will be his QE II Cup defence in April.

Trainer Francis Lui and jockey Vincent Ho enjoy Golden Sixty’s Gold Cup win.

“He ran a good race. He was only beaten by the champion. What can you say?” Shum said.

After adding a second Gold Cup trophy to his mantel following his 2021 win in the race, Golden Sixty is likely to chase a third straight Group One Champions Mile on Champions Day on April 30, however, trainer Francis Lui Kin-wai did not completely rule out a QE II Cup tilt.

“I have to discuss it with Vincent, but of course, he still thinks he’s a miler,” Lui said, adding that if Golden Sixty does travel this season, it will be to June’s Group One Yasuda Kinen (1,600m) in Japan.

“I’m very happy. In my lifetime I think this is the best horse, and I don’t think I can have another one. You can’t expect another one.”