After his devastating win in last month’s Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile, hometown hero Golden Sixty pleased his connections at Sha Tin yesterday morning (Tuesday, 12 January) with a trial in typical fashion ahead of the Group 1 Stewards’ Cup (1600m) on Sunday, 24 January.
“I’m happy with his trial, in the trial you can relax him – he doesn’t show much, he never does,” trainer Francis Lui said.
The son of Medaglia d’Oro went through his first barrier trial of the new year under his own steam, travelling wide throughout before crossing the line fourth, while the Caspar Fownes-trained Southern Legend went home best in a time of 1m 11.73s with stablemate Rise High just behind him.
Lui outlined the brilliant five-year-old’s programme for the near future, including a potential step back up to 2000m for the first time since his thrilling BMW Hong Kong Derby success last year in next month’s Group 1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup, where he may square off with reigning Hong Kong Horse of the Year, Exultant.
“Stewards’ Cup first and then maybe next month’s Gold Cup,” Lui said, all but ruling out an overseas tilt this year: “Not this season (to going overseas) but that’s another plan.”
The bay will seek back-to-back Group 1 victories in Sunday week’s HK$12 million feature in what will be his fifth run this term as he shoots for his 12th consecutive win after surpassing the great Beauty Generation’s 10 Hong Kong wins in a row last month.
“Sometimes you have to worry that he doesn’t race too much, there aren’t many races for him so he’s fresh – Vincent (Ho) said he was a bit fresh this morning.” Lui said.
Lui was pleased with the Australian-bred’s wellbeing and he remains buoyant of a positive result in 12 days’ time.
“The way he has won his last few races – he can win,” Lui said.
Rise High satisfies Soumillon
Rise High took yet another step forward on his comeback trial at Sha Tin yesterday (Tuesday, 12 January) with another solid trial effort as he eyes a return in next Sunday’s Group 1 Stewards’ Cup (1600m), his first run for over a year.
The French-bred seven-year-old – who has twice placed at Group 1 level – crossed the line second with a fast-closing effort to fellow Caspar Fownes’ trainee Southern Legend, much to the satisfaction of 10-time French champion Christophe Soumillon, who was in the plate.
“It was very nice – easy all of the way and he quickened really well,” Soumillon said.
The Myboycharlie gelding returns for the first time in over 12 months following a left front tendon injury and will look to return to previous heights that saw him halt Beauty Generation’s win streak at 10.
“Caspar (Fownes) told me he loves the dirt and it was confirmed this morning that he is in good shape and that he has recovered well from his long rest.”
“He felt really well, the way he finished the last 400 metres was quite good,” the Belgian said.
Soumillon will partner the gelding in Sunday week’s Group 1 Stewards’ Cup (1600m) and will also pair with Wishful Thinker in the day’s other Group 1, the HK$12 million Centenary Sprint Cup (1200m).
The HK$12 million mile contest is also set to feature last year’s winner Waikuku, Champion’s Way, More Than This, Mighty Giant and Ka Ying Star.