Horse Racing
Minor setback sidelines Golden Sixty from 2024 G1 Stewards’ Cup

By Leo Schlink
29/12/2023 23:48

Golden Sixty forges to G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (1600m) victory.
Golden Sixty forges to G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (1600m) victory.

Golden Sixty will bypass the 2024 G1 Stewards’ Cup (1600m) at Sha Tin on 21 January after the champion miler presented with a minor leg issue on Wednesday (27 December).

Trainer Francis Lui said the record-breaking Golden Sixty – brilliant last-start winner of the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (1600m) on 10 December – would be restricted to trotting exercises over the next three to four weeks, ruling out a bid at a record-extending 11th international Group 1.

“We found, the day before yesterday (Wednesday) in the morning, a little bit of filling and a little bit of heat (in his front left leg). The vets did a check, a scan and an MRI – there’s nothing serious, but they sent a report to England,” Lui said.

“It’s very slight but, of course, for the safety side, we don’t want to push him because the race is only three weeks’ time.

“The vets said we can give him light trotting for three or four weeks and progressively we can check on him. The issue is just inside the pastern on his front left leg.”

Winner of the Stewards’ Cup in 2021 and 2023, Golden Sixty was beaten in the 2022 edition by Waikuku when attempting to match Silent Witness’ Hong Kong record of 17 successive victories.

Hong Kong’s champion, Golden Sixty has won 10 Group 1s, 26 of 30 starts and a record HK$165.85 million in earnings.

Hugh Bowman logs first victory since returning from injury.

At Happy Valley on Friday night (29 December), Hugh Bowman posted his first win since suffering injuries after a race fall on 11 November when Caspar Fownes-trained Valhalla landed the Class 5 Nam Long Shan Handicap (1200m).

“It didn’t take long, but it’s nice to get the support and it’s nice to be back,” Bowman said, who has recovered from shoulder and spinal injuries. “I’ve still got a bit of work to do to get to where I want to be.

“I was out for a long time so it’s good to be back and good to be on the board.”

Fownes notched a double when Lyrical Motion won the second section of the Class 4 Pat Sin Leng Handicap (1200m) under Alexis Badel.

Super Baby provided Luke Ferraris with a belated 22nd birthday present when Mark Newnham’s galloper won the first section of the Class 4 Middle Gap Handicap (1650m).

“It’s a nice present, Mark’s team is going well and I’m extremely grateful for the support,” Ferraris said after the South African slotted his 16th victory for the season.

The outsider of the field, Green Laser broke through for his first Hong Kong success in the Class 5 Tung Wan Shan Handicap (2200m) for Chris So and Keith Yeung. Last approaching the 600m, the seven-year-old, who won at Group 3 level in South Africa in 2020, triumphed at his 24th Hong Kong start.

Green Laser scores a remarkable win at the Valley.

Alfred Chan posted his second win of the season when Tony Cruz-trained Atomic Beauty swept to victory in the second section of the Class 4 Middle Gap Handicap (1650m) before Ernest Feeling continued his strong run of form with his third win in four starts by snaring the first section of the Class 4 Pat Sin Leng Handicap (1200m).

The gelding provided the first leg of a brace for Jamie Richards, who also scored with Armour Eagle in the Class 3 High West Handicap (1200m).

“It’s been a good night for the stable,” Richards said. “Hopefully we can carry the momentum into the new year. All credit to James (McDonald) on Armour Eagle – it was a beautiful ride – and Antoine did a good job on Ernest Feeling.”

David Hayes and Lyle Hewitson combined to close the meeting in style with Star Contact, who cruised to victory in the Class 3 Pak Tam Au Handicap (1650m). Now a three-time course and distance winner, Star Contact provided Hayes with his 14th success of the campaign.

Hong Kong racing continues at Sha Tin on Monday (1 January) for the New Year’s Day meeting and the running of the G3 Chinese Club Challenge Cup Handicap (1400m).