Riveting Gr1 Action At Sha Tin On Sunday

Sha Tin first off at 07h00 on Sunday

Alert to the tactical challenges looming in a blockbuster HK$12 million Gr1 Stewards’ Cup at Sha Tin on Sunday, Vincent Ho will approach the pulsating showdown with Romantic Warrior and California Spangle with an open mind.

Hoping to further erase memories of shock defeat to Waikuku in the Stewards’ Cup last season, when Golden Sixty was attempting to equal Silent Witness’ record of 17 consecutive Hong Kong wins, Ho has full faith in Francis Lui’s champion.

Golden Sixty – top class! (Pic – HKJC)

“He felt really good Thursday morning (26 January) on the turf. He was very smooth and did everything well. He pulled up very well so he’s ready for the Group 1. I was happy with his trial as well, everything went smoothly,” Ho said.

“We’ll do our best. It’s exciting to have top horses competing together, so I’m really looking forward to it and I’ll definitely enjoy riding Golden Sixty.”

Drawn in barrier two and immediately flanked by California Spangle (gate three) and Romantic Warrior (four), Golden Sixty also faces Beauty Joy (one), Waikuku (five), Panfield (six) and Russian Emperor (seven) as he quests for a seventh Group 1 triumph and a 23rd career win.

Asked about likely tactics and the prospect of Golden Sixty again shadowing G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (1600m) conqueror California Spangle, while simultaneously attempting to gain a break on Romantic Warrior, Ho was non-committal.

“(I’ll ride him) wherever he is comfortable. He is now very relaxed, he also jumps well and he has the speed if I want him to be (closer). It’s very likely he’ll be behind the pace, between three to five (in running) would be ideal. Not too far back, obviously, but where he’s comfortable is most important,” Ho said, before reflecting on last year’s second to Waikuku.

“I didn’t have the record in mind, I focus each race by each race. Of course, you learn from your mistakes, but you don’t really look back that much.”

As the only jockey to ride Golden Sixty in a record-breaking career, Ho has the deepest attachment to the seven-year-old.

“The horse is like a family member to me. In the morning if I come to work, I go and visit him every time to see how he is. He’s definitely like a pet but, of course, he’s in the stable. I wish I had more time to do more stuff with him,” Ho said.

“Horses like this don’t stay forever and you have to cherish and enjoy every moment with him. When I work him or riding him in races, you have to enjoy those moments.”

With record prize money earnings of HK$122,850,600, Golden Sixty has competed at Gr1 level on nine occasions for six wins, two seconds and a third.

Underscoring the magnitude of this weekend’s contest, Russian Emperor’s jockey Harry Bentley said: “Really excited just to be part of this race, which is a massive match-up.

“It’s fantastic and to get on such a good horse is fantastic. A mile is probably less than his ideal distance but hopefully Zac won’t be too steady in front, but there’s no reason why he won’t run a big race.”

Sunday’s Sha Tin meeting starts with the Class 5 Giant Treasure Handicap (1650m, dirt) at 07h00.

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