Champion Golden Sixty returns triumphant in Jockey Club Mile
Golden Sixty (Medaglia D’Oro) made a sparkling return to racing at Sha Tin yesterday afternoon with the 22nd victory of his decorated 25-start career and third straight Jockey Club Mile (Gr 2, 1600m) success.
But his win didn’t come easy. Neck and neck over the concluding stages with California Spangle (Starspangledbanner), Vincent Ho asked Golden Sixty to lift and he responded accordingly, overhauling his brave, youthful adversary by a neck as second favourite in 1m 34.02s.
Enhancing the merit of his win, Golden Sixty clocked 21.32s for his final 400 metres after California Spangle set a crawling tempo throughout under Zac Purton.
“I knew Golden Sixty would have the heart to run him down but he’s only 80 per cent fit, so the last bit is his mental toughness. Definitely all credit to him and the team – we’re looking forward to December [Hong Kong International Races] now,” Ho said.
“It was crawling at first and the turn I knew, around the 600 [metre mark], that Zac will pick up the pace for sure, so I was just keeping an eye on what he was doing and I had to come out and make my move earlier.”
Tony Cruz was full of praise for California Spangle who – while still only a four-year-old – has now registered two second placings to the six-time Group 1-winning Golden Sixty.
“I believe this horse still can improve. He’s fit and sound and we’ll fight another day,” Cruz said.
Enhancing his all-time earnings to a Hong Kong record HK$116,250,600 (approx AU$22.15 million) Golden Sixty will now be plotted towards winning a third successive Hong Kong Mile (Gr 1, 1600m) at next month’s Hong Kong International Races on December 11.
“Same like before, he has a very good fighting heart. When he came close to the frontrunner, he really wanted to pass him,” winning trainer Francis Lui said.
“Zac is a good jockey and he knows how to manage the pace, but I think Vincent also knows Golden Sixty very well, he knows how to ride this horse.”
Hong Kong’s two-time Horse of the Year’s first-up win follows on from his two-length success in April’s Champions Mile (Gr 1, 1600m) – his second win in the race after prevailing in 2021.
“We are all happy to see him come back and win a race. Golden Sixty has brought us a lot of fun”, Lui said.
Yesterday afternoon’s victory was Golden Sixty’s fifth at Group 2 level, while he also boasts six Group 1 wins and in 2020 he became only the second horse in history to sweep the Four-Year-Old Classic Series.
“Honestly, he is an easy horse to train so I think after this race his condition will improve,” Lui said.
Golden Sixty could clash with the likes of Schnell Meister (Kingman), Danon Scorpion (Lord Kanaloa) and Salios (Heart’s Cry) in next month’s Hong Kong Mile, while the Hong Kong contingent is expected to feature the majority of yesterday afternoon’s Jockey Club Mile field.