By Nicholas Godfrey
Hong Kong: Spectacular Hong Kong Derby winner Golden Sixty, the new star of the region’s racing scene, misses the Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Sha Tin and will not run again this season.
The news is a blow to the prestigious FWD Champions Day meeting on April 26, designed as an international meeting but set to go ahead this year as a purely domestic affair owing to the coronavirus crisis.
Golden Sixty is unbeaten in seven starts this term in Hong Kong, among them all three legs of the Four-Year-Old Classic series, which he totally dominated under jockey Vincent Ho, climaxing in a stunning hometown victory in the BMW Hong Kong Derby on March 22.
Hopes were high the gelding would take on older horses in this month’s highlight but trainer Francis Lui has ruled out the idea.
“He won’t run,” Lui said, speaking to the Hong Kong Jockey Club at Happy Valley’s Wednesday night meeting.
“He’s achieved a lot this season and we feel he needs a rest now to refresh his mind and let him develop. He’ll have a summer break and then we’ll prepare him for next season.”
In the absence of Golden Sixty, last year’s FWD QEII Cup runner-up Exultant is likely to start hot favourite for this year’s race for trainer Tony Cruz, who enjoyed a double at the city-centre venue, where jockey Zac Purton enjoyed a treble to take him to 100 wins for the season.
Purton now trails championship leader Joao Moreira by just a single winner after the ‘Magic Man’ drew a rare blank.
The QEII Cup is one of three G1 events on the card, where the Champions Mile is set to feature the final Hong Kong start of the region’s superstar Beauty Generation, who is bidding for a hat-trick in the HK$20 million contest.
Much vaunted youngster Aethero is out to redeem his tarnished reputation in the Chairman’s Sprint Prize.