Home Trio Goes For More Champions Day Glory

With a horse population that numbers around 1200, Hong Kong proudly boasts four of the top six horses in the latest Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings (WBRR), each of which will be warm items Sunday when Sha Tin Racecourse plays host to its second-biggest day of international racing annually, the FWD Champions Day program.

Of the quartet, Golden Sixty (Aus) (Medaglia d’Oro) sits just behind Equinox (Jpn) (Kitasan Black {Jpn}) at the top of the heap and looks to make history when he goes in search of a third straight success in the G1 FWD Champions Mile. After being thrwarted in one such pursuit by the re-opposing and WBRR #6 California Spangle (Ire) (Starspangledbanner {Aus}) in the G1 Longines Hong Kong Mile in December, Hong Kong’s all-time leading money spinner turned the tables in the G1 Stewards’ Cup in January and beat Romantic Warrior (Ire) (Acclamation {GB})–joint-fourth in the rankings–at his best game in the G1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m) the following month. The connections of Golden Sixty passed on an attempt at desert riches in the G1 Dubai Turf in favour of the Champions Mile and there is no lack of optimism in his camp.

“I don’t feel any pressure, the pressure before the race is that I hope he can win, always,” said trainer Francis Lui. “Every time we plan, we do it after the race and my future plan is another Hong Kong Mile in December.”

While Golden Sixty will be a short-priced favourite in a race that also includes G1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas hero Aegon (NZ) (Sacred Falls {NZ}) and BMW Hong Kong Derby hero Voyage  Bubble (Aus) (Deep Field {Aus}), Romantic Warrior has something to prove in defence of his title in last year’s G1 FWD QE II Cup over the metric mile and a quarter. Last year’s Derby winner was an eye-catching in adding the G1 Longines Hong Kong Cup on international day in December, but he was a battling second in the Stewards’ Cup and could not sprint with Golden Sixty in the Gold Cup. Sunday’s race is anything but a ‘gimme’, given the presence of last-out G1 Longines Queen Elizabeth S. winner Dubai Honour (GB) (Pride of Dubai {Aus}). Victorious in the G1 Ranvet S. prior to that, he was a close fourth to Japan’s Loves Only You (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) in the 2021 Hong Kong Cup and is a giant threat Sunday.

The QE II Cup has gone to Japan three of the last six years and the nation sends across a typically strong contingent this weekend. Geraldina (Jpn), a daughter of former Champions Mile winner Maurice (Jpn) and fellow Japanese Horse of the Year Gentildonna (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}), defeated her peers in Japan’s G1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup and was a sound third to Equinox in the G1 Arima Kinen. She should strip fitter for a better-than-it-looks sixth behind Jack d’Or (Jpn) (Maurice {Jpn}) in the G1 Osaka Hai last time. The progressive Prognosis (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) was a fast-finishing winner of the G2 Kinko Sho Mar. 12 and has the services of Zac Purton, while Danon the Kid (Jpn) (Just A Way {Jpn}) was runner-up in last year’s Hong Kong Cup and exits a narrowly beaten third in the Osaka Hai.

Wellington (Aus) (All Too Hard {Aus}) goes for back-to-back wins in the G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize, but will fill a supporting role against the in-form Lucky Sweynesse (NZ) (Sweynesse {Aus}), who shares fourth in the WBRR with Romantic Warrior. Disappointed for a clear run when sixth to Wellington in the G1 Longines Hong Kong Sprint, he enters this test on a four-race winning streak, a stretch that also includes the G1 Centenary Sprint Cup and G1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup. Pending the results from this weekend, he could travel to Japan for the G1 Yasuda Kinen for his next appearance.

Adding a bit of intrigue to the Chairman’s are Sight Success (Aus) (Magnus {Aus}) and Duke Wai (NZ) (Per Incanto), a creditable fourth and fifth, respectively, in the G1 Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan Mar. 25.

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