Golden Sixty heads BMW Hong Kong Derby selected runners

Golden Sixty lands the Hong Kong Classic Cup in style.

By David Morgan, Hong Kong Jockey Club

Hong Kong’s star four-year-old Golden Sixty heads 14 selected runners for the HK$20 million BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) at Sha Tin Racecourse on Sunday, 22 March.

The brilliant galloper has so far dominated the Four-Year-Old Classic Series with impressive wins in the first two legs, the Hong Kong Classic Mile (1600m) and the Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m), under jockey Vincent Ho.

Should Golden Sixty win the BMW Hong Kong Derby, the Francis Lui-trained galloper would become only the second horse to triumph in all three races in the Series, following Rapper Dragon’s history-making clean-sweep in 2017.

The Hong Kong Derby was first contested in 1873 and is restricted to four-year-olds, offering once-in-a-lifetime glory to the victor. Past winners this century include the top-class champions Vengeance Of Rain (2005), Viva Pataca (2006), Ambitious Dragon (2011), Designs On Rome (2014) and Werther (2016).

Mr. Andrew Harding, the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Executive Director of Racing, said: “The BMW Hong Kong Derby is a champion-making race, a once-in-a-lifetime challenge that always excites and inspires. Year after year, it is the race that produces our future stars and this season’s eagerly-anticipated edition is framed to continue that legacy.”

“Golden Sixty’s dazzling victories in the first two legs of the Four-Year-Old Classic Series mean that we head into the BMW Hong Kong Derby daring to expect not only the coronation of a star four-year-old, but also the rise of a future champion. However, there are few certainties in sport, and, with the likes of More Than This, Champion’s Way, Enjoying and other talented rivals in opposition, Francis Lui’s galloper will certainly have to produce his very best if he is to repeat Rapper Dragon’s so far unique feat of winning all three legs in the Series.”

Golden Sixty bossed his peers in the Hong Kong Classic Mile with an easy length and a quarter success. He then overcame a troubled preparation and traffic problems in the run as he sprinted home a half-length winner of the Hong Kong Classic Cup. The latter win took the Medaglia D’Oro gelding’s career record to nine wins from 10 starts but in the Derby his stamina will be tested at a mile and a quarter for the first time.

The Australian-bred is again set to face his stablemate More Than This, unbeaten in Britain pre-import and successful in his first three runs this term before closing late for second in the Hong Kong Classic Mile. The talented gelding ran on to take third in the Hong Kong Classic Cup.

More Than This is one of the major contenders in this year’s BMW Hong Kong Derby.

Meanwhile, Champion’s Way was a fine second in the Classic Cup, having placed third in the Classic Mile. John Size’s charge was the top-rated three-year-old in Hong Kong last season, having capped a six-win campaign with a G3 win at a mile, and has blossomed in his last two runs after a tepid start to the current season.

Champion’s Way was last season’s Champion Griffin and is peaking through this year’s Four-Year-Old Classic Series.

While Lui is chasing a first Derby win, Size is already a three-time winner thanks to Fay Fay (2012), Luger (2015) and Ping Hai Star (2018).

John Moore has trained more Hong Kong Derby winners than anyone with six on the board (1995 Makarpura Star, 2006 Viva Pataca, 2009 Collection, 2014 Designs On Rome, 2016 Werther, 2017 Rapper Dragon) and his main hope this time is Enjoying. The two-time Australian G2 winner was an eye-catching fourth in the Classic Cup and is expected to relish any extra distance. Moore also has the smart French-bred Savvy Nine going forward.

Stepping into the Series for the final skirmish is the South American import Butterfield. The chestnut, a two-time G1 winner in Brazil, was disqualified after also ‘winning’ the G1 Jockey Club de Sao Paulo (2000m).

The Danny Shum-trained contender opened his Hong Kong account at the fifth attempt when successful in a competitive 1800m Class 2 Handicap last time and heads into the Derby having sidestepped the first two legs of the Series.

Butterfield defeated in that Class 2 his fellow Derby selections Columbus County, Super Oasis, Enjoying and Amazing Beats.

The Caspar Fownes-trained Columbus County, third in the G2 Waikato Guineas (2000m) pre-import, followed his second to Butterfield with a nose runner-up finish last time behind Listed Tasmanian Derby (2200m) victor Amazing Beats, trained by Paul O’Sullivan.

Super Oasis was again on the scene in that contest and will represent last year’s winning trainer Frankie Lor. The gelding landed the G2 Avondale Guineas (2100m) in New Zealand and was third in the G1 Australian Derby (2400m) last year.

Lor’s other contenders are Decrypt and Reliable Team. The former had top-flight form in Europe last term, having placed third in the G1 Irish 2000 Guineas (1600m). The grey was found wanting in the Classic Mile but was a close second in a 1400m Class 2 handicap last time.

Reliable Team has won four of his 10 starts and although only 10th in the Hong Kong Classic Cup, the grey has proven to be a smart galloper.

Alongside Butterfield, the Shum stable has a second selected runner in the shape of Playa Del Puente, seventh in the Classic Mile and fifth in the Classic Cup.

Tony Cruz could saddle two runners on the day: Private Secretary, a 2240m Listed winner in England last year, made an eye-catching winning debut in Class 2 at Happy Valley in December but has been beaten in two starts since, including when ninth in the Classic Cup; Star Performance was fifth in the Classic Mile.

The race, which is limited to 14 runners, has three reserves: World Famous, Hello Daddy and Champion Supreme

Author: iRace