While even a win from Romantic Warrior in Sunday’s Group One Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (2,400m) may not have made a difference, the superstar’s narrow loss to Russian Emperor looks to have ensured a record Horse of the Year hat-trick for Golden Sixty.

While Romantic Warrior’s connections have to settle for two Group One wins this season, two-time reigning Horse of the Year Golden Sixty and the city’s new sprinting sensation, Lucky Sweynesse, walk away with three each.

Both have been completely dominant in 2023, shrugging off defeats at the Hong Kong International Races to take all before them this calendar year.

But while Lucky Sweynesse reeled off elite-level wins in the Centenary Sprint Cup (1,200m), Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup (1,400m) and Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1,200m) to become the first horse since the great Silent Witness to sweep the Hong Kong Speed Series, it’s Golden Sixty who’s in the box seat for yet another Horse of the Year gong.

Although Lucky Sweynesse has added a further three Group races to his CV this season, Golden Sixty looks poised to create more history by becoming the first horse in the professional era of Hong Kong racing to win Horse of the Year in three straight years.

After starting his surge by taking down Romantic Warrior and California Spangle in a Stewards’ Cup (1,600m) billed as the race of the decade, Golden Sixty stared down Romantic Warrior at his opponent’s pet distance in the Gold Cup (2,000m) before winning the Champions Mile for the third straight season.

For his troubles, Golden Sixty became the highest-earning racehorse in history, improving his record to 25 wins from 29 starts and setting another Hong Kong record by increasing his Group One tally to nine.

While Lucky Sweynesse looks to have Champion Sprinter in the bag, Golden Sixty will be Champion Miler and Russian Emperor’s win on Sunday will see him crowned Champion Stayer, there are some wondering whether Romantic Warrior’s Hong Kong Cup (2,000m) and QE II Cup (2,000m) successes are enough to see him named Champion Middle-Distance Horse for a second straight year considering Golden Sixty bettered him at their only meeting at 10 furlongs.

Patch performs

While much, if not all, of the attention was focused on the rousing battle between Romantic Warrior and Russian Emperor in the dying stages of Sunday’s Champions & Chater Cup, Five G Patch was quietly putting up a performance in third that suggests Hong Kong has another capable stayer on its hands.

After entering his first set-weights assignment on a rating of just 87 – 43 points below Romantic Warrior – Five G Patch was sent off at $45 but beat the likes of second favourite Straight Arron and Money Catcher home on his way to finishing only a length and a quarter adrift of winner Russian Emperor, who was snaring the Champions & Chater Cup for a second year running.

The performance of Tony Cruz’s up-and-comer earned him a five-point penalty from the handicappers.

De Sousa withdraws appeal

Silvestre de Sousa has withdrawn his appeal against the severity of the 10-month ban he received earlier this month for betting-related offences.

Initially scheduled to front stewards on Tuesday afternoon, Brazilian jockey De Sousa has instead decided to accept his punishment for facilitating a bet for countryman Vagner Borges, who received a 12-month ban for having an interest in a bet on a horse he rode, Young Brilliant, at Happy Valley on April 26.

De Sousa’s suspension runs until March 11 next year.