Connections of Hong Kong’s pin-up horse Golden Sixty are set abort plans to run over 2,000m in the Group One QE II Cup and instead head to the Champions Mile next month as they look to harness his devastating turn of foot.
Trainer Francis Lui Kin-wai confirmed he is leaning towards the shorter trip after consulting regular rider Vincent Ho Chak-yiu, who believes the top five-year-old performs at his best over the mile.
While Jockey Club officials had dreamed of a showdown over 2,000m between Hong Kong’s top-rated horse and a host of Japanese raiders like Daring Tact, Glory Vase and Kiseki, it is unlikely to eventuate.
“We are still thinking about it, but maybe the Champions Mile at this stage, we are leaning that way at the moment,” Lui said.
“I discussed it with Vincent and he thinks he is more comfortable there. His turn of foot is better at the mile we think.”
Golden Sixty stepped out in a barrier trial for the first time since his Group One Gold Cup (2,000m) victory on Tuesday, with both trainer and jockey happy with his work while they toss up which path to take on Champions Day, April 25.
Even if they opt for the Champions Mile, Ho would not rule out a tilt at completing the Hong Kong triple crown later in the season in the Group One Champions & Chater Cup (2,400m).
While the jockey has reservations about running him over the gruelling 2,400m trip, he said it had to be factored in.
“It depends what Francis wants to do with him,” Ho said. “Even after [Champions Day], does he run the 2,400m or not? On my side, I don’t really want to but I still have to talk with [Lui]. 1,600m to 2,400m is probably easier for him to recover but 1,600m to 2,400m is a [big] jump.”
Trialling behind top sprinter Classique Legend, Golden Sixty travelled comfortably on the inside of the track alongside Southern Legend.
While most of his rivals will head to the Group Two Chairman’s Trophy (1,600m) on April 5, Golden Sixty will instead trial once more before April 25’s Group One day.
“Felt good, happy with him. Let him stretch out a little bit,” Ho said. “He’s kept his form. We need to sometimes let him stretch out a bit, otherwise he’ll be too fresh.”