Golden Sixty’s connections might be hesitant to take the magnificent miler overseas, but by pitting him against Romantic Warrior in Sunday’s Group One Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (2,000m) at Sha Tin, they have at least shown they are still willing to push the seven-year-old outside his comfort zone.
Undefeated at the distance, Romantic Warrior was monstrous when dismantling an international Group One Hong Kong Cup (2,000m) field in December and facing the reigning Hong Kong Derby (2,000m) champion at 10 furlongs is as tough as any domestic challenge
Golden Sixty could face right now.
Golden Sixty’s annual date with 2,000m has divided opinion about the necessity of stretching such a brilliant galloper out to such a trip, but on face value his record of two wins from three attempts reads well.
The fact he only beat $290 chance Playa Del Puente by a neck in the 2020 Derby, only narrowly saw off Furore when winning his Gold Cup in 2021 and then finished behind Savvy Nine when third in Russian Emperor’s 2022 Gold Cup – albeit on a unfavourable yielding surface – dilutes his 10-furlong record somewhat.
While jockey Vincent Ho Chak-yiu would much rather be preparing for the Group One Dubai Turf (1,800m) at Meydan next month, he is confident Golden Sixty is still absolutely capable of showing somewhere near his best at the Gold Cup trip.
“He can still produce that sprint if everything is like before, so 2,000m isn’t really a problem for him. Of course, Romantic Warrior is really good, so we’ll see how it goes,” Ho said ahead of the clash of Hong Kong’s two highest-rated horses.
“That’s the best thing about him turning his seven – he has really matured mentally, and he doesn’t fight any more. He used to fight a lot, but not any more. When I ask him for the effort, he’ll give it straight away.”
Ho responded with an emphatic “definitely” when asked if Romantic Warrior provides Golden Sixty with his greatest 10-furlong challenge, while adding the two-time Horse of the Year’s one-length victory over the Hong Kong Cup hero in last month’s Group One Stewards’ Cup (1,600m) was “one of the best, I can’t say the best” of the champion’s career performances.
Golden Sixty should not be too far off the speed from gate four in the seven-horse field, with Ho’s job to ensure he is within striking distance of Romantic Warrior when the septet turns for home.
“It really depends where Golden Sixty is comfortable. He doesn’t pull at all now, so wherever we jump and land, he’s comfortable,” Ho said.
Romantic Warrior begins from gate six as he looks to turn the tables on Golden Sixty at their second meeting in a race where Money Catcher and Ka Ying Star look to be the main speed influences.
Ho also looks to have a live chance in Sunday’s other feature, the Hong Kong Classic Cup (1,800m), with Chris So Wai-yin’s four-year-old Super Sunny Sing chiming in on the Classic Series for the first time.
Super Sunny Sing has been in a rich vein of form, reeling off a hat-trick of wins to reach a rating of 84. His last two wins have come under Ho, including a last-start three-and-a-half-length demolition job in a Class Three mile at Sha Tin. He jumps from gate five and maps to get a midfield run in a race that is unlikely to break any speed records.
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