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Team Golden Sixty ‘open-minded’ about possible Jockey Club Mile tilt

Plans to send Golden Sixty to December’s Group One Hong Kong Mile first up could be shelved after jockey Vincent Ho Chak-yiu confirmed the team is “open-minded” about an earlier return.

Ho, who has partnered Golden Sixty for his 29 races and 25 wins, was happy with how the eight-year-old went about his business in his first trial of the season at Sha Tin on Tuesday morning.

“It was good to just let him enjoy the turf a bit. He did what we wanted him to do and he felt good. It’s good to be back on him at the trials – he’s a different class,” Ho said.

Kept in first gear throughout, Golden Sixty coasted home to finish sixth in the 1,000m heat,

with trainer Francis Lui Kin-wai pleased with what he saw.

“I’m happy with him. Of course, he hadn’t run for a few months and he looked a little bit fat. Even Vincent mentioned the horse’s fitness, but he was happy with the trial,” Lui said.

“He still looks great. I asked the rider who rides him every day and he said his mind is still very happy.”

Despite suggesting Golden Sixty would tackle the Hong Kong Mile on his seasonal reappearance, Lui confirmed we may see his stable star in the Group Two Jockey Club Mile on November 19.

“The main target is the [Longines Hong Kong International Races] but we’ll see his next barrier trial and how he recovers. If we can think about one race before then, that’s no worries,” the trainer said.

With the Group Two contest falling on the last day of Ho’s 10-meeting suspension, his chances of being available to ride Golden Sixty hinge on his ban being reduced at Thursday’s appeal hearing.

This year’s Hong Kong Derby hero Voyage Bubble also featured in Tuesday morning’s turf trial, with trainer Ricky Yiu Poon-fai remaining optimistic about the five-year-old’s 2023-24 campaign.

“I told the jockey [Alexis Badel] he’d trial well because he’s fresh, he’s keen and he’s ready to do the job. I was really happy with him, which I expected,” Yiu said.

“He’s done a lot of work so maybe this trial will do him and we can go straight to the [Jockey Club Mile] in mid-November. This horse still has a lot of upside.”

Yiu, who confirmed Badel will keep the ride on the 108-rated galloper, is confident his team won’t be leaving Happy Valley empty-handed on Wednesday evening.

“I think I can have a winner. I quite like Brilliant Pioneer in his first start for me after transferring from Dennis [Yip Chor-hong]. He’s still a maiden in Class Five but I quite like him,” Yiu said.

Lui sends six runners to the city track and is hopeful Call Me Dandy can go close on his first outing at the venue.

“Sometimes even the horses who haven’t been to Happy Valley still can handle it. Zac [Purton] will know what to do,” Lui said.

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