By Nicholas Godfrey
Sha Tin: Jockey Club Mile G2 HK$4.5m (£440,000) 1m, turf, 3yo+
Golden Sixty (Francis Lui/Vincent Ho)
“A once-in-a-lifetime horse” is how jockey Vincent Ho described Golden Sixty after the Hong Kong sensation took his winning streak to ten in this dress rehearsal for next month’s Hong Kong Mile.
Locally trained horses have won 14 of the last 20 editions of the HK Mile – back at Sha Tin on the Longines-sponsored HKIR meeting on December 13 – and they’ll have the favourite once more for that HK$25m (£2.43m) after this authoritative effort.
Golden Sixty last season became only the second horse to sweep the region’s Four-Year-Old Classic series and once again he demonstrated his superiority over the local contingent with an electrifying late charge.
Ho said riding him was like driving a Formula 1 car after the five-year-old gelding became only the fourth horse in HK history to compile a double-figure winning streak after such greats as Silent Witness, Beauty Generation and Co-Tack.
Vincent Ho (jockey): “I’ve never been in a Formula 1 car but I feel like riding him it’s probably similar. He’s a once-in-a-lifetime horse for me.
“The main goal was to settle him as normal and to relax him and he hit the line strongly; he will always produce a really good last quarter. I was happy with how he raced, he’s getting quieter and he knows what’s going on now.
“He’s more mentally mature and he’s a really professional horse now. He’ll be competing at Group 1 now and hopefully we will be winning next month. That was our main goal and main target from last season and these three races have been really good prep for him. He’s got stronger each race and I’m really happy with how those races panned out for him.”
Francis Lui (trainer): “I felt nervous before the race but, of course, passed the winning post everything was all right. I feel very happy that the horse can perform so well. You can see he’s more relaxed and more mature now. At the moment he looks like a champion but we’ll see what form the international horses bring.”
Sha Tin: Jockey Club Sprint G2 HK$4.5m (£440,000) 6f, turf, 3yo+
Hot King Prawn (John Size/Joao Moreira)
After finishing runner-up to now-retired stablemate Beat The Clock in last year’s Hong Kong Sprint, six-year-old Hot King Prawn will again figure among leading fancies for next month’s G1 event after coming wide and late to claim this G2 trial.
The grey, who returned better than even in 2019 after colic surgery, had also won the Jockey Club Sprint in 2018, after which he was a beaten favourite at the December showpiece, fading into ninth after trying to make the running.
Joao Moreira (jockey): “He’s won with authority – not to disrespect the other horses in the race because some of those might improve as well but I just couldn’t be any happier with him. He’s going to December as an improving horse; he’s a class horse, a quality horse, and we can go there with plenty of confidence – there’s no doubt that that’s the race we want to win.”
Sha Tin: Jockey Club Cup G2 HK$4.5m (£440,000) 1m2f, turf, 3yo+
Furore (Tony Cruz/Joao Moreira)
Furore mastered Tony Cruz-trained stable companion Exultant, the reigning Hong Kong Horse of the Year, for the second time this month with a three-quarter-length victory under Joao Moreira.
After his earlier victory on Hot King Prawn, Brazil’s ‘Magic Man’ was completing a double in the G2 ‘Jockey Club’ trial races for the Longines-sponsored International Races on December 13 and a hat-trick on the card, as he also landed a handicap with Winning Delight.
Five-time G1 winner Exultant had held the Indian sign over 2019 HK Derby winner Furore in five earlier meetings between the pair until Furore got the upper hand in a G3 event over 1m1f three weeks ago, thereby ending a 19-month barren spell.
They won’t be meeting at the HKIR, though, as Exultant reverts to his optimum trip of 1m4f in a bid to regain his crown in the HK Vase, while Furore stays at 1m2f in the HK Cup.
Joao Moreira (jockey): “He travelled very kind, he had the cover that we were hoping for and the pace was quite genuine and when I gave him a clear run, they started to come back and he just kept running and showing his quality.
“He ran away to win very impressively and easy – I can say that he crossed the finish line with plenty left in himself, it gets me so excited for the big day in December.”
Tony Cruz (trainer): “The horse had some issues, so once you sort that out, it’s a different horse altogether.”
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