Golden Sixty Named Hong Kong HOTY–Again

Golden Sixty won an unprecedented third straight Horse of the Year trophy Friday | Alex Evers/HKJC


During a season that saw him become the richest-ever horse and most prolific winner of Group 1 races in Hong Kong history, Stanley Chan Ka Leung's Golden Sixty (Aus) (Medaglia d'Oro) was named Horse of the Year in the jurisdiction for an unprecedented third straight season during a black-tie affair held Friday evening at the Grand Ballroom of the Rosewood Hotel.

The son of Gaudeamus (Distorted Humor) won four of his five trips to the post during a well-managed 7-year-old campaign, his only loss coming at the hooves of the very talented California Spangle (Ire) (Starspangledbanner {Aus}) when looking for a third consecutive victory in the G1 Longines Hong Kong Mile in December. In one of the most anticipated races in recent memory, Golden Sixty squared off with his Mile conqueror and G1 Longines Hong Kong Cup romper Romantic Warrior (Ire) (Acclamation {GB}) in the G1 Stewards' Cup in January, a race in which Golden Sixty had a 16-race winning streak snapped in 2022. The three top-rated horses in Hong Kong had the race to themselves when push came to shove, and $2.50 (3-2) second favourite Golden Sixty proved equal to the task with a one-length defeat of $2 (evens) pick Romantic Warrior.

It was $1.50 (1-2) Romantic Warrior and $2.30 Golden Sixty in the G1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup over a 2000-metre trip that was sure to favour Romantic Warrior. But Golden Sixty had the final say yet again, scoring by a head (video), before adding his ninth Hong Kong Group 1 tally with a third straight win in the G1 FWD Champions Mile in April (video), also securing champion miler honours. Golden Sixty, who will train on as an 8-year-old, has a record of 25-2-1 from 29 starts and earnings of nearly US$18.8 million to date.



Other luminaries to have been named Horse of the Year on multiple occasions include Silver Lining (Aus), Quicken Away (Ire), River Verdon (Ire), Fairy King Prawn (Aus), Silent Witness (Aus), Ambitious Dragon (NZ) and Beauty Generation (NZ). The first two named were also three-time Horses of the Year, but non-consecutively.

Romantic Warrior did not go home empty-handed, as his efforts were rewarded with champion middle-distance horse honours for the second straight season. He managed to bounce back from his Gold Cup effort–for which he was reportedly not 100%–to defend his title handsomely in the G1 FWD QE II Cup to lock up his championship.

But for an unlucky defeat when favoured in the G1 Longines Hong Kong Sprint, Lucky Sweynesse (NZ) (Sweynesse {Aus}) would have given Golden Sixty a tussle for Horse of the Year. As it was, the 4-year-old had a much more rigorous campaign that Golden Sixty, winning seven of his nine starts, including a maiden Group 1 in the Centenary Sprint Cup (1200m) and additional elite-level successes in the Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup (1400m) and Chairman's Sprint Prize (1200m). He carried 135 pounds to victory in the G3 Sha Tin Vase H. June 4, spotting his rivals 14 to 20 pounds. With no standout horse among those that competed in the Classic series, Lucky Sweynesse was also recognized as champion 4-year-old.



Russian Emperor (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) was the only Hong Kong horse to win a race on foreign soil this season, having impressed in the HH The Amir Trophy in Qatar, but it was his victory over Romantic Warrior in his title defence in the G1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (2400m) that secured the 6-year-old the award as champion stayer for the second year in a row.



Howdeepisyourlove (Aus) (Deep Field {Aus}) finished his first Hong Kong preparation with four wins from 12 starts and was named champion griffin (2- and 3-year-old horses unraced upon arrival into Hong Kong). His rating lifted from the standard debut mark of 52 to 96 by season's end. Beauty Eternal (Aus) (Starspangledbanner {Aus}) saw his rating rise from 52 to 117 to be named the most improved horse. Third as the favourite in the BMW Hong Kong Derby, he closed the season with a pair of victories at Group 3 level.

Trainer John Size won a 12th Hong Kong premiership, while Zac Purton will be crowned champion jockey for the sixth time after breaking Joao Moreira's record 170 victories for a season. He currently sits on 176 heading into Sunday's final meeting of the season, 82 clear of Vincent Ho, who received the Tony Cruz Award as leading homegrown jockey. Purton also became the second rider in history to register better than 1600 winners in Hong Kong, joining Russian Emperor's trainer Douglas Whyte.

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