Hong Kong's 'Golden' Boy On the Verge of More History

Golden Sixty | HKJC

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His 22 career victories is an all-time record in Hong Kong racing history. His HK$116 million (£12.2 million/US$14.7 million) in career earnings makes him not only the richest racehorse to look through a bridle in the Special Administrative Region, but also one of the richest Thoroughbreds, ever. Stanley Chan's Golden Sixty (Aus) (Medaglia d'Oro) can make even more history this Sunday when he starts a long odds-on proposition in the G1 Longines Hong Kong Mile, a victory in which will tie Good Ba Ba (Lear Fan) with three straight wins at the Longines Hong Kong International Races meeting.

While he may have fallen just short of equaling the great Silent Witness (Aus)'s mark of 17 wins in a row when defeated in the G1 Stewards' Cup and G1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup last winter, he has since roared back and enters the three-peat attempt off a fast-finishing score over the pace-advantaged California Spangle (Ire) (Starspangledbanner {Aus}) in the G2 Jockey Club Mile Nov. 20. The latter, a €150,000 Goffs Orby acquisition for the connections of two-time Hong Kong Cup hero California Memory (Highest Honor {Fr}), was 3-5 to Golden Sixty's even-money in the Jockey Club Mile, and was given every conceivable chance by Zac Purton, only to be run down late. He faces the champ at level weights this time, but is the lone speed and must be caught.

A Japanese contingent headed by Schnell Meister (Ger) (Kingman {GB}) and Danon Scorpion (Jpn) (Lord Kanaloa {Jpn}), winners of the last two runnings of the age-restricted G1 NHK Mile Cup, stand in his way, but the connections of Golden Sixty have every reason to approach the three-peat attempt with supreme confidence.

“He's okay after the last run and, at the moment, I just try to keep him happy,” said trainer Francis Lui. “He's healthy, happy and is character is just the same. To me, I think he is a special horse. You can see every time, he just wants to pass a horse in front of him.”

 

 

 

Japan Can Cap Magical Season at Sha Tin

Even by its lofty standards, the 2022 racing season has been a landmark one for Japanese gallopers that have been sent overseas.

It all got started at King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh on the last Saturday of February, when Team Japan posted four victories on the G1 Saudi Cup undercard. Four weeks later at sprawling Meydan Racecourse, they somehow managed to top that incredible feat when no fewer than five horses got their pictures taken. It may not have gone swimmingly at places like Royal Ascot and Goodwood over the late spring and summer, and the G1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe remains the impossible dream–for now, at least–but Japan has realistic chances in three of the four races Sunday afternoon, none more so than the day's most valuable prize, the G1 Longines Hong Kong Cup.

Panthalassa (Jpn), whose sire Lord Kanaloa (Jpn) was a breathtaking two-time winner of the Sprint, was one of the aforementioned scorers in Dubai, dead-heating with Lord North (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) in the G1 Dubai Turf and he figures no worse than the second betting favourite Sunday.

The 5-year-old may have found the 11 furlongs of the G1 Takarazuka Kinen a task too tall in June, but he was exceptionally game in second in his two most recent efforts–both from the front–first behind Jack d'Or (Jpn) (Maurice {Jpn}) after a fight in the G2 Sapporo Kinen and when given a bold ride in the G1 Tenno Sho (Autumn), opening up by as many as 15 lengths before just failing to hold off the talented Equinox (Jpn) (Kitasan Black {Jpn}). Panthlassa will look to channel his inner A Shin Hikari (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}, all-the-way winner of the 2015 Cup, but Jack d'Or could be the fly in the ointment if he, too, is asked to roll forward for Yutaka Take. Japan has won the last three Cups and five of the last seven.

 

 

Should a contested pace materialize, Romantic Warrior (Ire) (Acclamation {GB}) looks the most likely beneficiary. Purchased for 300,000gns out of the 2019 Tattersalls October Sale by the Hong Kong Jockey Club team led by Mick Kinane and the current pin-up horse for the Hong Kong International Sale, last year's BMW Hong Derby and G1 FWD QE II Cup winner overcame an interrupted preparation with a victory over Tourbillon Diamond (Aus) (Olympic Glory {Ire}) in the G2 BOCHK Jockey Club Cup Nov. 20.

“He's definitely going to be there when whips are cracking,” said jockey James McDonald, who was honored as the Longines World's Best Jockey Friday evening. “It's a very competitive Hong Kong Cup and he has to come up to another level taking on the Japanese but I'm sure he can.”

Order of Australia (Ire) (Australia {GB}), who took the 2020 GI Breeders' Cup Mile at cricket-score odds, won this year's G3 Minstrel S. (1400m) and was placed in the G1 Queen Anne S., G1 Prix du Moulin and GI Coolmore Turf Mile. Connections nevertheless opt for the Cup over a trip he has not tackled in over two years.

“He's been running all the time over a mile but we always thought stepping up over a mile and a quarter would improve him more,” trainer Aidan O'Brien said. “He's obviously by Australia and we're very happy with him, we'll see what happens on Sunday.

“He has won over seven furlongs twice as well, so we kept him at a mile after the Breeders' Cup win, but we'd think there's a pretty good chance that [2000m] will be fine.”

Hong Kong Hard To Go Past in Sprint

If the Japanese have been a problem too tough to solve in the Cup, the home team has nearly totally dominated the G1 Longines Hong Kong Sprint. In the 23 renewals of the race dating back to 1999, on just six occasions have foreign horses launched a successful raid and only once in the last 11 years with Danon Smash (Jpn) (Lord Kanaloa {Jpn}) in 2020.

Last year's Hong Kong champion sprinter Wellington (Aus) (All Too Hard {Aus}) was badly hampered by the spill in last year's Sprint won by Sky Field (Aus) (Deep Field {Aus}), but recovered to close the season with a successful defence of his crown in the G1 Chairman's Sprint Prize. The 6-year-old returned as the 135-pound topweight in the G2 Premier Bowl H. Oct. 23 and gave the progressive Lucky Sweynesse (NZ) (Sweynesse {Aus}) 11 pounds and a one-length beating. The latter turned the tables last time in the G2 BOCHK Jockey Club Sprint, but Wellington was found to be lame thereafter and has since been passed fit to run. Ryan Moore subs in on Wellington for the injured Alexis Badel.

“I have strong feelings for Alexis Badel,” Gibson said. “It's a very big day for him to miss. He's got a very good relationship with Wellington. He understands the horse very well, so my thoughts are with him but obviously delighted to call on Ryan's expertise and experience for the big one.”

Moore was aboard Danon Smash from the 14 hole two years ago.

The 2022 Japanese challenge is spearheaded by the winners of the nation's two Group 1 sprints. Naran Huleg (Jpn) (Gold Allure {Jpn}) rallied furiously to just take out the G1 Takamatsunomiya Kinen in the spring, while Gendarme (Kitten's Joy) belied odds of nearly 20-1 from close range in the G1 Sprinters' S. Oct. 2.

Singapore adds a bit more international flavour to the meeting and is represented by Lim's Kosciuszko (Aus) (Kermadec {NZ}), winner of 11 from 14 at home, including the country's signature sprint test, the Lion City Cup in August, and he was versatile enough to win a Singapore Derby (1800m) prior to that effort.

 

 

 

Vase Sets The Table

The G1 Longines Hong Kong Vase for the middle-distance set has attracted a two-time champion and an interesting collection of European shippers to face a somewhat suspect group of locals.

Glory Vase (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) doesn't make too many trips to the races and seems to save his best for Sha Tin. The 4-5 favourite when accounting for Pyledriver (GB) (Harbour Watch {Ire}) last December, having won the Vase for the first time two years prior, the 7-year-old was eighth to Shahryar (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) in the G1 Dubai Sheema Classic in March and was a fair sixth to Jack d'Or in the Sapporo Kinen. He will benefit from the extra 400 metres and has the services of Joao Moreira, who also rides Lei Papale (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) in the Cup and Resistencia (Jpn) (Daiwa Major {Jpn}) in the Sprint in what is expected to be his final day in the saddle in Hong Kong.

Of the Euros, Stone Age (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) owns the single most important piece of recent form, having run second to Rebel's Romance (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) in the GI Longines Breeders' Cup Turf Nov. 5. A likely pacesetter from the inside gate, the 3-year-old is one of two for Aidan O'Brien, who also saddles the well-traveled Broome (Ire) (Australia {GB}).

“We were delighted with him in the Breeders' Cup, he ran a very good race and had progressed from his previous run at Ascot,” O'Brien said of Stone Age. “We've been happy with everything we've seen from him since then. It had been on my mind to go to Hong Kong since after the Breeders' Cup, we thought the track, trip and ground should all suit him fine, we're all looking forward to it.”

Making his first visit to Hong Kong, Broome was an impressive winner of the G2 Hardwicke S. at Royal Ascot, and has since made fruitless appearances back at Ascot, Saratoga, Leopardstown, ParisLongchamp and Keeneland, where he was five lengths' sixth in the Breeders' Cup.

“We had it in our heads that we might go to the [G1 Longines] Japan Cup, it just came maybe a week or two too early and that's why we waited. We were delighted to have the opportunity to come to Hong Kong with him. He's in good form and is a very good natured, very sound horse,” explained O'Brien, who has won the Vase twice with Highland Reel (Ire) and most recently with Mogul (GB) two years ago.

Mendocino (Ger) (Adlerflug {Ger}) upset last year's Arc winner Torquator Tasso (Ger) (Adlerflug {Ger}) in the G1 Grosser Preis von Baden in September, but did not get through the deep ground in Paris when 12th in the Arc. The chestnut can go better on a sounder surface this weekend, provided he is on his best behaviour.

Bubble Gift (Fr) (Nathaniel {Ire}) is winless from five this season, but has run with credit, including a close third to future Arc heroine Alpinista (GB) (Frankel {GB}) in the G1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud. Trainer Mikel Delzangles won the 2011 Vase with Dunaden (Fr). Botanik (Ire) (Golden Horn {GB}) represents Godolphin France and Andre Fabre and owns a victory over Saudi and Dubai winner Stay Foolish (Jpn) (Stay Gold {Jpn}) in the G2 Grand Prix de Deauville this past August.

THE PICKS:

CupPanthalassa will be winging it, but I expect Jack d'Or to keep him honest enough. That should give Romantic Warrior a fair shot at them late.

Mile–Not trying to beat Golden Sixty, especially from a favourable draw. Schnell Meister for second?

SprintNaran Huleg will be completely under the radar and probably shouldn't be. Rattled home in both of Japan's Group 1 sprints, good for a smashing win and a third.

Vase–Trying Mendocino, who was all heart to beat the Arc winner at Iffezheim and even has a close second to Alpinista going back. Must handle the quicker ground, but rates a chance. Glory Vase clearly the one to beat at his favourite track.

 

 

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