Trainer Francis Lui indicated his pleasure with Golden Sixty as he eyes a seasonal return with Hong Kong’s superstar galloper, plotting further riches at home and abroad with the four-time Group 1 winner and earner of HKD$77.92 million.
“He’s healthy and happy, we’re building him up slowly,” Lui said.
Targeting the HKD$100 million LONGINES Hong Kong International Races on 12 December, Lui is also remaining optimistic of campaigning the six-year-old abroad, highlighting the 2022 Group 1 Yasuda Kinen (1600m) at Tokyo as a possible option.
“The target of course is the Hong Kong International Races, so we’ll start him off in the Group races because he gets too much weight in Handicaps, carrying top weight – that’s the plan but we’ll see how he is.
“I think the only race we can think about overseas is in Japan, the Yasuda Kinen, but it all depends the COVID-19 situation, we’ll see whether it is under control or not,” Lui said.
Golden Sixty’s domination of last season’s Champion Awards saw him named Horse of the Year, Champion Miler, Champion Middle-Distance Horse and Most Popular Horse of the Year.
“It’s Japan if we go overseas, otherwise we will stay in Hong Kong,” Lui said.
Unbeaten his past two seasons, the son of Medaglia d’Oro’s 14-win streak has him within touching distance of Silent Witness’ Hong Kong record of 17 consecutive victories.
“We’ll keep him at the mile and we’ll see how he reacts, later on if he is showing it then we can step him up to 2000 metres again,” Lui said.
Four consecutive Group 1 triumphs in the 2020 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile, 2021 Stewards’ Cup (1600m), Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m) and FWD Champions Mile boosted his unblemished run as he bossed Hong Kong’s best over both a mile and 10-furlongs last term.
Rolling off the back of consecutive 60-plus winning seasons, Francis Lui ponders whether he will once again be able to maintain the pace that he has set his past two campaigns with 63 (2019/20) and 61 (2020/21) wins.
“I would say we will struggle this season, we have had two seasons over 60 wins and all of the horse’s ratings are quite high now, even with some moving on, the young horses have to catch up – they need time to develop,” Lui explained.
“I am expecting a lower number this year, maybe, but fingers crossed,” he added.
Looking ahead to Sunday’s (5 September) season-opening fixture at Sha Tin, Lui has the highly talented Lucky Patch (128lb) engaged for the Class 1 HKSAR Chief Executive’s Cup (1200m).
“He’s good, I think he will improve, a few races last season he just had bad luck having drawn wide, but he’s such an honest horse he always jumps to the front and he fights on,” Lui said.
The El Roca gelding is a three-time winner in Hong Kong, which includes a tidy two and a quarter length Class 1 triumph at the back-end of last term in the Hong Kong Racehorse Owners Association Trophy Handicap (1200m).
“He can show a good kick with the right run,” the handler said.
The five-year-old stepped up for the first two legs of last season’s Four-Year-Old Classic Series, finishing outside of the placings in each run.
Lui isn’t ruling out a chance at running the bay in the 2021 Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m), should his progress and rating improve.
“It all depends on how he improves but we could look at the Hong Kong International Races, that is, if he can improve,” Lui said.
Apprentice Jerry Chau is in the plate for the second time after guiding Lucky Patch to that end-of-season Class 1 victory in July; the young gun takes five pounds off his allotted weight and the duo will depart from gate 10 against 12 rivals.