One of the final big international race meets of the calendar year was staged in Sha Tin over the weekend of December 10, with international stars in action looking to win huge cash prizes on track.
The action at Sha Tin kick starts a huge winter of flat racing overseas, with many of the stars that were in action on track likely to be among those targeted at prestigious meetings in the Middle East in early 2024.
However, one of the stunning winners on an action-packed night in Hong Kong came in the form of Golden Sixty, who roared to success to claim victory in the Hong Kong Mile. But, has his victory continued his legacy on track?
Golden Sixty Bests Talented Field
Golden Sixty was outlined as the clear market leader for the G1 Hong Kong Mile at Sha Tin, as he looked to continue his dominant sequence of victories on the turf. He was excellent once again for connections, as he kept finding more down the home stretch to land victory by over a length from 30/1 outsider Voyage Bubble.
The eight-year-old always appeared to be the most likely winner of the race, as he beat the talented field into submission with ease before stretching clear of the field. Namur appeared to be one of his more eye-catching rivals in the Mile, but the Japanese-trained runner could only finish second after finishing a further length behind runner-up Voyage Bubble.
Legendary Record Continues
There have been few more exciting horses to compete in Hong Kong throughout history than Golden Sixty, as the eight-year-old has now won 26 of his 30 starts under rules. His record in stakes company is also staggering, as he has won 17 from 20 appearances, and he is yet to finish outside the first three. Golden Sixty has been named the Hong Kong Horse of the Year on three occasions, and he has won over HK$165 million in prize money.
His success at Sha Tin is clear for all to see, as he has won some staggering races at the track. Among those was his third victory in the Hong Kong Gold Cup in February, which broke the record for the most wins by a single horse in Hong Kong racing history.
His 2023 season has continued to amaze, as he won the Mile after previously landed successes in the Champions Mile and the Stewards Cup. A good pick for anyone engaging in pari-mutuel wagering, Golden Sixty broke the record for the most prize earnings in the world, breaking the purse picked up by Australian wonder-mare Winx.
Romantic Warrior Lands Hong Kong Cup Glory
The feature race on the card at Sha Tin over the weekend came in the form of the Hong Kong Cup, which boasted a purse of over £2 million for the winning runner. It was the race of the night for many, with Romantic Warrior edging out Luxembourg by a short head to claim victory.
The five-year-old was also narrowly ahead of Hishi Iguazu, who was a fast-finishing runner from Japan. Connections for Luxembourg were ultimately left hugely disappointed after missing out on the prestigious Group 1 behind the pre-race favorite.
However, the success of Romantic Warrior continued his excellent record on the track in 2023. The runner has previously landed a narrow success in the G1 Cox Plate in Australia in late October, and he has now landed victories in six races from ten starts in stakes company.
He also held many close finishes behind Golden Sixty at Sha Tin earlier in the season after finishing second in both the G1 Hong Kong Gold Cup and G1 Stewards Cup. A rematch of the latter could be on the cards for connections in early 2024.
Junko Holds On To Hong Kong Vase Success
The stakes action kicked off at Sha Tin with the G1 Hong Kong Vase on Sunday, which boasted a very deep selection of fillies and mares. However, it was to be Andre Fabre-trained Junko that landed victory in the prestigious race to pick up prize money of over £1.4 million. The four-year-old took the lead inside the final furlong and was able to stay on to finish clear by over a length.
Japanese-trained Zeffiro finished in second, and she took second in the final stages. However, she was no match for the winner. Warm Heart enjoyed a strong run at the Breeders’ Cup in November for Aidan O’Brien, but she faded in the closing stages to settle for third.
It was an extremely disappointing effort by the pre-race favorite, as Lebensstil was the last of the eight finishers, despite being well backed before the off. The three-year-old filly eventually finished over 12 lengths behind the winner.