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Owner Stanley Chan admits no feeling of the usual pre-race nerves as his champion, Golden Sixty, and his phenomenal exploits face yet another enthralling twist in Sunday’s (10 December) HK$32 million G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (1600m) at Sha Tin.
Returning after a 224-day break between runs, his longest spell ever, Golden Sixty has to defy the widest of 14 barriers – a stall that has returned three winners in the 32-year history of the race after Additional Risk (1991) and Catalan Opening (1997), who won when the contest was run as the Hong Kong International Bowl (1400m), and Beauty Flash (2010), who prevailed under the race's current conditions.
This weekend's LONGINES Hong Kong Mile will be Golden Sixty's third last appearance in competition and his last chance to capture a record-tying third win in the race, with his career set to conclude after the 2024 HK$13 million G1 Stewards' Cup (1600m) on 21 January and 2024 HK$22 million G1 FWD Champions Mile (1600m) on 28 April.
"He's won all of the important races in Hong Kong across the last few years, so what can I expect from him? Hopefully he can keep good health and after these three races I will send him to Japan for retirement," Chan said.
Golden Sixty – celebrated as the 'Pride of Hong Kong' – has repeatedly defied doubters throughout his career, several times overcoming obstacles such as fitness and stamina queries, while the pre-race chatter at Sha Tin suggests he'll have to draw out his brilliant best if he is to beat rivals from Hong Kong, Japan, Ireland, France and Singapore.
Trained by Francis Lui, Golden Sixty is the city's only 25-time winner, most prolific Group 1 winner (nine), highest prize money earner and only consecutive three-time Hong Kong Horse of the Year (2020/21, 2021/22 & 2022/23) – records Chan could never have imagined, even in his wildest dreams.
"No, I didn't expect it. This horse was chosen by Francis Lui, even when he chose the horse at the time, I can't imagine he expected this result," Chan said.
No eight-year-old has ever won the LONGINES Hong Kong Mile, while Able One (2011) is the oldest and sole nine-year-old to be victorious. Good Ba Ba is currently the only three-time winner of the race, triumphing in 2007, 2008 and 2009.
Golden Sixty will retire in Japan. A short plane ride for Chan, Lui, jockey Vincent Ho and Golden Sixty's legion of fans in Hong Kong to visit one of the city's greatest champions of all time.