Golden Sixty came from last to first as he won a thrilling edition of the BMW Hong Kong Derby by just a neck from outsider Playa Del Puente at Sha Tin.
Golden Sixty was sent off 6-4 favourite to become just the second horse to complete Hong Kong’s four-year-old Classic Series – and extend his winning sequence to seven, and career record to 10 out of 11.
But Francis Lui’s gelding was shuffled well back in the pack early on under Vincent Ho, and was last of the 14-runner field after the halfway point as he moved up to 10 furlongs for the first time.
As the fast early pace slackened, Blake Shinn took Playa Del Puente five lengths clear into the straight.
Ho had begun his move on Golden Sixty, though – and despite having to run wide off the bend, it was clear they were the only dangers to the 50-1 shot.
Golden Sixty duly produced a remarkable late surge to mow down the leader just in time and therefore repeat the feat of Rapper Dragon back in 2017 by winning all three legs of the series.
Ho insisted afterwards that he was “not too worried” – even when Playa Del Puente moved so far clear – and described Golden Sixty as a “superstar”.
He said: “It’s amazing. The horse was really fit – it’s very difficult to come from behind like that.
“It’s an amazing feeling to be able to win all four-year-old Classics – he’s a superstar, for sure.
“I wasn’t too worried. I know he can produce a very good turn of foot, and he’d relaxed really well in the race.
“When I saw the winning post, I knew I should be able to get him.”
Playa Del Puente, formerly trained by Mick Halford in County Kildare, nonetheless also ran a remarkable race to defy his huge odds in a race run behind closed doors during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Golden Sixty’s stablemate and nearest market rival More Than This finished a further two and a half lengths back in third.
Lui was winning the Derby for the first time after 25 years as a trainer.
He said: “Round the bend, they slowed down the pace and that’s why the other horse was able to run away, but Golden Sixty showed excellent acceleration. I was worried but I could see Golden Sixty was trying very hard.
“It’s not easy (to win the Derby). I’m very happy – I have to say thank you to my stable team.”
Lui will now look to FWD Champions Day on April 26 for Golden Sixty, with options in the FWD Champions Mile over a mile and FWD QEII Cup over 10 furlongs.