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Golden Sixty out to make more history and kick off farewell tour in perfect style

Hong Kong racing fans will hold their collective breath at Sha Tin on Sunday when the city’s most successful horse, Golden Sixty, graces the city’s biggest race day for the final time.

In a perfect world, the magnificent miler steams to a third Group One Hong Kong Mile victory on the first stop of a season-long farewell.

But one alternative – that it could be the last time punters see Golden Sixty on a racetrack – is wedged firmly in the minds of many.

Owner Stanley Chan Ka-leung’s plan is for Golden Sixty to run in Sunday’s Hong Kong Mile and January’s Stewards’ Cup before a fitting farewell in April’s Champions Mile.

First, though, in his fourth Longines Hong Kong International Races (HKIR) appearance, the ageing legend must show he retains the appetite and ability to compete with the best.

If Golden Sixty wins a third Hong Kong Mile, he will join Good Ba Ba as a three-time HKIR and Mile winner, although he cannot match that sensational galloper’s hat-trick following his loss to California Spangle last year.

Tony Cruz’s California Spangle – to be ridden by Christophe Soumillon for the first time – fronts up again and is joined by Beauty Eternal in leading the local opposition to Golden Sixty, while there are also five Japanese gallopers, Aidan O’Brien’s Cairo and Andre Fabre’s Tribalist for the three-time Horse of the Year to contend with.

Then there is the fact he will have to make history by winning off a 224-day break, that he has drawn the widest gate of his career – barrier 14 of 14 – and that, at eight years old, he is far from a spring chicken.

Chan, trainer Francis Lui Kin-wai and jockey Vincent Ho Chak-yiu are banking on their superstar’s freshness being able to get the job done – he’s never lost a race first up.

Victory would mean a record-extending 26th career win and 10th Group One success, and he would become the first Hong Kong horse to tick over HK$150 million in prize money.

While Golden Sixty is the main attraction, Hong Kong racing fans have three genuine local superstars to cheer for at Sha Tin on Sunday.

In a race featuring fantastic British speedster Highfield Princess, Lucky Sweynesse is out to become the only galloper to win Hong Kong’s four Group One sprints in the same calendar year.

Romantic Warrior will look to join California Memory as a two-time winner of the city’s richest race, the HK$36 million Group One Hong Kong Cup (2,000m), himself ticking over HK$100 million in prize money if he can finish in the top six.

Danny Shum Chap-shing’s reigning Cup champion faces a plethora of stars, including returning Japanese gun Prognosis and O’Brien’s heavy hitter Luxembourg, while the Group One Hong Kong Vase (2,400m) looks certain to head overseas, such is the strength of the international raiders, even allowing for West Wind Blows coming out of the stamina test at the last minute.

Joao Moreira rides likely Vase favourite Lebensstil, who is one of three Japanese gallopers bidding to give their country a fourth win in the race in five years, while O’Brien’s Warm Heart – with World’s Best Jockey Award winner Ryan Moore aboard – adds star power to the contest.


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