Declaring Golden Sixty the equal of the most outstanding milers in recent Hong Kong history, Zac Purton has warned against being too conscious of the glamour galloper in Sunday’s G1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin.
Purton will partner Tony Cruz’s reigning Horse of the Year Exultant in an intriguing clash with Golden Sixty, who is bearing down on a 13th successive win, third G1 triumph and 16th victory from 17 starts.
Typically realistic, the four-time Champion Jockey concedes Exultant’s chances of adding a second Hong Kong Gold Cup are not as imposing as when the gelding was at his peak, observing the seven-year-old is yet to return to peak levels this season.
“I think he was going better last year than what he is this year,” Purton said.
“He just seems to have come off his peak a little bit, he’s still trying hard – he’s not quite getting into the straight and putting them to the sword like he was before.
“We’ll just ride our race on him and give him his chance and he’s certainly good enough, of course, and there’s younger horses coming through now and the older you get the harder it becomes.
Second to Glorious Dragon in the G3 Centenary Vase Handicap (1800m) on 31 January, Exultant is yet to win this season.
“I thought it was a good effort – the same horse last year would have won,” Purton said before addressing a possible change of riding tactics based on upsetting Golden Sixty.