Golden Sixty Triumphs in Epic Gold Cup Showdown
27 February 2023
Champion racehorse Golden Sixty (Medaglia d’Oro) brought the house down at Sha Tin on Sunday with one of the best performances of his legendary career, standing tall in a clash of the titans in the HK$12m Group One Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m).
Bought by trainer Francis Lui for $300,000 from Riversley Park’s draft at the 2017 Ready to Run Sale, the all-time great has amassed more than HK$136.5m (NZ$28.2m) for owner Stanley Chan. He has had 28 starts for 24 wins, eight of them at Group One level.
Golden Sixty’s bid for a second Gold Cup on Sunday brought an eagerly anticipated showdown with Romantic Warrior (Acclamation), who was previously undefeated and untouchable at the race’s 2000-metre distance. His four previous victories at the trip included sensational performances in the Group One Hong Kong Cup and QEII Cup.
Romantic Warrior was poised to pounce again in the big one on Sunday, settling close to the pace while Golden Sixty and his regular partner Vincent Ho stayed on his back and never let him out of their sights.
Romantic Warrior went for gold coming up to the home turn, surging forward with ominous ease and then taking control in the straight. But then Ho went to work on Golden Sixty and the gap began to slowly close.
The final 200 metres brought the two-horse war the crowd had been hoping for, and Golden Sixty’s champion qualities shone through as he finished over the top of Romantic Warrior to score by a head. The incredible race ended up with a time to match, stopping the clock at 1:59.98.
“To be honest, I expected the other horse would have beaten us, but of course, I just do my best on Golden Sixty without hurting him too much,” Ho said. “He’s got a great heart and he’s always trying his best – sometimes over his own limit – so I don’t want to overdo it.
“He was very relaxed today. I even had to ask him a little to keep up today in the back straight and, of course, I had another great horse to follow through and ask for the full effort at the 200.”
Having already won last month’s Group One Stewards’ Cup (1600m), Golden Sixty now has the opportunity to become only the second horse in history – and the first since 1994 – to complete Hong Kong’s Triple Crown. The third and final leg is the Group One Champions & Chater Cup (2400m) on May 28.
“We’ll see,” Lui said. “We have time to consider it because there is a long way to go. It is one of the options we have.
“I’m very happy. In my lifetime, I think this is the best horse, and I don’t think I can have another one. You can’t expect another one.”
The other Karaka graduate in Sunday’s field was Money Catcher (NZ) (Ferlax), who tried to lead all the way and fought gallantly down the straight to finish a close third. Purchased for only $13,000 from the 2018 Karaka May Sale, and then $60,000 from the 2019 Ready to Run Sale, Money Catcher has earned HK$16.2m – the equivalent of more than NZ$3.3m.
|Mr F Lui (Hong Kong)
|Medaglia d’Oro – Gaudeamus
|Lot 136, 2017 Ready to Run Sale, $300,000