GOLDEN Sixty took the first step on his path toward the 2020 Longines Hong Kong International Races with an impressive win in the Grade 3 Celebration Cup Handicap over 1400m at Sha Tin on Sunday, thwarting Beauty Generation’s tilt at a fourth straight triumph in the race.
Hong Kong’s first Pattern race this season was billed as the clash between Beauty Generation and Golden Sixty and it did not disappoint, with the latter reigning supreme for trainer Francis Lui and jockey Vincent Ho.
“I think at the moment he is the best horse that I have trained – he’ll step up in distance to 1600 metres now and then of course the target is the Hong Kong International Races,” Lui said.
The Medaglia d’Oro gelding made the most of the 17 pounds he received off the two-time Horse of the Year, Beauty Generation (133lb), who finished a dead-heat second alongside Champion’s Way by one and three quarter lengths.
“It’s very exciting to be back on him (Golden Sixty), he felt great and fresh today – once I got a clear run I knew he’d run them down,” Ho said. “I think he is one of the best horses in Hong Kong at the moment.”
With his devastating turn-of-foot on display once again, the newly turned five-year-old made it eight wins in a row, following on from his Four-Year-Old Classic Series clean sweep which culminated with Derby glory.
After breaking cleanly Golden Sixty was snagged back to settle worse than midfield while Beauty Generation, under the guidance of Zac Purton, would stalk the leading duo on the rail.
As the field turned for home; Golden Sixty quickened when asked, while Beauty Generation hit traffic and had to bullock his way clear to share second prize.
“He pulled up well, it was a good blow for him – he needed that, I think he was around 70 to 75 percent fit before this run and after this he should go up even more, of course with the aim of December,” Ho said.
Trainer David Hayes spoke of Beauty Generation’s performance post-race: “We knew it was always going to be a big ask to give a young champion like Golden Sixty so much weight but I thought Beauty Generation would have finished a clear second with a better run and I’m very happy with the way he went,” he said.
“The big handicap at a mile is obviously an option but, as I said before the race today, he’s going to be at his very best when the big set weights races come around in November and December,” Hayes said in reference to a possible next run in G2 Oriental Watch Sha Tin Trophy Handicap (1600m) on 18 October.
But it wasn’t altogether smooth sailing for the winning camp, as Lui spoke of his concerns pre-race as his stable star danced and buzzed around the parade ring before the race.
“I was worried about him before the race in the parade ring because he was so excited but in the race he was under control,” Lui said.
The December riches on offer for Golden Sixty are the $25 million Hong Kong Mile or the HK$28 million Hong Kong Cup, should Lui opt to step up to the Derby distance of 2000m again.
“He looks like he is more mature – at the moment his best is between 1600 metres and 2000 metres,” Lui said.
Before his end-of-year aspirations, the Australian-bred could next target the G2 Oriental Watch Sha Tin Trophy Handicap (1600m) which may see a rematch with Beauty Generation, who has won two of the past three editions of the HK$4.5 million contest.
Earlier on the fixture, Ho also won on the Jimmy Ting-trained Go Goal Toby who scored a maiden success in the Class 4 Swallow Handicap (1400m), surprising at odds of 37-1 . – Hong Kong Jockey Club