Jockey Matthew Chadwick believes that The Golden Age is heading the right way to develop into a BMW Hong Kong Derby contender, with the four-year-old set to continue his progression towards the March feature in Wednesday night’s (31 January) Class 2 Siu Sai Wan Handicap (1650m) at Happy Valley.
The Golden Age (129lb), a Group 3 winner in France when named Kontrastat, has come of age this term for trainer Tony Cruz with two strong Class 2 wins at Happy Valley and a second in the G3 January Cup Handicap (1800m) at the city track last start.
“He’s been racing really well,” Chadwick said at Sha Tin on Tuesday morning (30 January). “It’s only been three weeks since his last run and he hasn’t had a trial in between, so the step back to 1650m doesn’t appear a problem. He seems to handle both 1650m and 1800m pretty well, and he is more relaxed this preparation. From the inside gate, I should be right up close and if nothing takes him on, he should be hard to run down.”
Free-wheeling out in front has been The Golden Age’s game this season, but Chadwick said he would be happy to sit behind horses if pressure came from his outside.
“There are a couple of horses that could take me on, including his old stablemate Happy Spirit,” the rider said. “If he or Solar Hei Hei come across, then I think my horse is versatile enough to settle in behind. He relaxes well in the mornings now, so I don’t see it as a major problem.”
Cruz indicated that The Golden Age would head towards the BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) on 18 March, with a possible run in the Hong Kong Classic Cup or a 1650m Class 1 at Happy Valley in mid-February before that.
“It’s a different form line, but he’s racing well, so he deserves his chance,” Chadwick said. “I assume he will end up heading that way in the end.”