Russian Emperor Defeats Golden Sixty in HK Gold Cup – BloodHorse.com

Persistent rain and wet turf scrambled the results in dual group 1 races Feb. 20 at Sha Tin Racecourse as Golden Sixty suffered his second straight defeat after 16 consecutive wins and Waikuku, his last-out conqueror, also came up short.

The upsets emphasized a generally gloomy day as COVID-19 pandemic restrictions kept all but essential personnel away from the races.

Russian Emperor  emerged as a 4 1/4-length winner of the trouble-plagued Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (G1), skipping over 2,000 meters (about 1 1/4 miles) of yielding turf with a clear trip while Golden Sixty struggled over the heavy going and endured traffic problems.

Russian Emperor, a 5-year-old Galileo  gelding, and Golden Sixty, by Medaglia d’Oro  , raced together at the back of the field through the early furlongs. Jockey Blake Shinn positioned Russian Emperor outside his rival—a fortunate placing as Golden Sixty was forced out wide to avoid a horse in distress near the end of the backstretch run.

From that point, a gap opened for Russian Emperor while Vincent Ho had to take Golden Sixty widest of all. Unaccustomed to anything but good turf, the reigning Hong Kong Horse of the Year couldn’t make much headway and finished third, 1 1/4 lengths back of long shot Savvy Nine.

— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) February 20, 2022

Russian Emperor, owned by Mike Cheung Shun Ching, completed the distance in 2:04.11.

Douglas Whyte, Hong Kong’s all-time jockey leader with 1,813 wins, picked up his second group 1 training win. He also conditions Savvy Nine. Whyte gave the weather a nod in the outcome of the Gold Cup but gave most credit to his horse.

Blake Shinn is now a two-time Group 1 winning rider in Hong Kong
Photo: Hong Kong Jockey Club

Blake Shinn celebrates aboard Russian Emperor after their win in the Hong Kong Gold Cup

“I’ve ridden here for 22-23 years as a jockey and when this light rain is about it’s when you notice the true difference in the track,” Whyte said.

“When there’s that heavy rain, it runs right through the track and drains. This light rain makes a difference and Russian Emperor was there to lap it up.”

Ho cited the traffic issues for Golden Sixty’s difficulties.

“I had to go past one or two because (Zac) Purton’s horse (More Than This) was dropping back and I had no choice but to come out and the winner just made up ground on the inside,” Ho said.

“The conditions, for sure, played a part. He still ran well. It was a good effort,” Ho added.

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The Gold Cup had issues from before the start to after the finish. Columbus County was scratched before the race on veterinary orders and Panfield, who virtually stopped in the stretch, was flagged for further medical vetting before any future entry will be allowed.

Sky Darci, the reigning BMW Hong Kong Derby winner, was pulled up and diagnosed with an injury to his left hind fetlock. His condition was not immediately announced.

Golden Sixty’s long winning streak was ended Jan. 23 when he finished second to Waikuku in the Stewards’ Cup (G1) and Waikuku was the favorite in Sunday’s first group 1 event, the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup (G1) at 1,400 meters (about seven furlongs). He also was victimized by traffic.

Wellington revels in the wet
Photo: Hong Kong Jockey Club

Wellington captures the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup at Sha Tin Racecourse

At mid-stretch, jockey Purton found himself on the rail behind rivals and pinned by another and could only wait as Wellington, with a clear run, got to the front and kept going. Ka Ying Star also got clear sailing and was up for second as Waikuku settled for third. The final time was 1:23.53.

Wellington, a 5-year-old All Too Hard  gelding owned by Mr. and Mrs. Michael Cheng Wing On and Jeffrey Cheng Man Cheong, picked up his second group 1 victory, following the Chairman’s Sprint Prize (G1) at the end of last season. Trainer Richard Gibson said the horse will stick around Hong Kong to defend that title.

“This year, things haven’t gone quite right for him,” Gibson said. “We fancied our chances today and the horse delivered.”

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