G60 Seeks Redemption Against Budding Stars in Stewards’ Cup

Revenge is squarely on the mind of reigning Hong Kong Horse of the Year Golden Sixty (Aus) (Medaglia d’Oro) as he faces one of his stiffest tests to date in Sunday’s G1 Stewards’ Cup at Sha Tin Racecourse.

Having suffered a shock defeat at the hands of the re-opposing Waikuku (Ire) (Harbour Watch {Ire}) when in search of a record-equalling 17th consecutive victory in last year’s Stewards’ Cup, the 7-year-old enters this race with another chip on his shoulder, having failed to reel in loose-on-the-lead California Spangle (Ire) (Starspangledbanner {Aus}) when attempting the three-peat last time in the G1 Longines Hong Kong Mile Dec. 12.

The task at hand is made trickier still by the presence of the once-beaten Romantic Warrior (Ire) (Acclamation {GB}), who is cutting back to the mile after decimating his opposition in the G1 Longines Hong Kong Cup going 2000 metres last month. But jockey Vincent Ho, who has been aboard Golden Sixty in each of his 26 career starts–22 of those victorious–is relishing every last opportunity to ride a horse of this calibre.

“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.”

In what figures a tactical affair where decision making will be at a premium, Zac Purton will put California Spangle on the engine, try to slow the pace as much as possible and try to hold off his two chief adversaries. But he is well aware that there is little margin for error.

“A small, little thing that happens at some stage of the race might be the defining moment for the result, so we all have to be on our game,” Purton, a five-time Hong Kong champion jockey, said. “More importantly, all the horses look like they’re on their game and they’re fit. It’s still early on in their preparation, so none of them are going to be over the top. We just hope it’s going to be a good race.”

Last year’s BMW Hong Kong Derby hero, Romantic Warrior is going for a unique Group 1 treble, having won the G1 FWD QE II Cup and the Hong Kong Cup. Win or lose, he makes his next start back at 10 furlongs in the G1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup and it will be interesting to see how he fits with top-class milers over a trip that is possibly short of his best. His human connections are not lacking for confidence.

“We have some confidence. It’s not a big field–just seven horses–so the horse can stay behind California Spangle and we have some confidence that we can beat him,” said trainer Danny Shum Chap-shing. “He’s in really good form, so I have confidence in him.”

The supporting feature is the Hong Kong Classic Mile, won last year by Romantic Warrior. Packing Treadmill (Aus) (Manhattan Rain {Aus}) could jump a lukewarm favourite for Purton and Golden Sixty’s trainer Francis Lui, with Class 1 winner Keefy (Aus) (All Too Hard {Aus}) and Sweet Encounter (NZ) (Toronado {Ire})–to be ridden by Ryan Moore for John Size–also taking market support.

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