A tribute to Golden Sixty
Pride of Hong Kong and an equine legend.
In winning Longine’s Hong Kong mile last Sunday, 10 December 2023, Golden Sixty (AUS) joined Good Ba Ba (USA) as the only three times winner of this race, however, Golden Sixty did more than that. He took his overall record to 30 starts for 26 wins, two seconds and one third – a record which only champions can achieve because included in this record are 13 starts at G1 level. Sunday’s win was his 10th at this level, and he has been placed at his other three. Golden Sixty has never unplaced at G1 level.
Last Sunday’s win capped a stellar year for this great gelding in which he set record after record and sealed his place as a legend of the turf. Earlier in 2023, on 26 February when winning the Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m) G1 for the second time, he recorded his 24th win in Hong Kong. This broke a record for the greatest number of wins on a Hong Kong racetrack. This record had stood for 85 years, going back to the late 1930’s when a total of 23 wins was achieved. Moreover, in this race he defeated the Cox Plate winner Romantic Warrior by a neck. These two stars of Hong Kong racing have now clashed on two occasions and Golden Sixty has triumphed each time. Thirty-one days earlier on 29 January, Golden Sixty beat Romantic Warrior by a length over a mile at G1 level.
At his next start on 30 April, Golden Sixty won his third consecutive Champions Mile and the prizemoney he won took him past Winx as holder of the world title for the racehorse that has won the most prizemoney. From 43 starts (37 wins and three placings), Winx had amassed AUD $26,451,175 (her three unplaced runs were one at G1 level and two at G2 level). This win took Golden Sixty’s tally to about AUD $28,518,000.
At the end of his 7YO career on 14 July, Golden Sixty became the first horse in history to be crowned Horse of the Year a third consecutive time. He was also crowned Hong Kong’s Champion Miler for the third consecutive year. His mile record after Sunday is now 16 starts for 14 wins and two seconds.
Last Sunday, 10 December, Golden Sixty resumed from a spell and by winning he maintained a perfect first up record of seven from seven. More importantly, this win took his prizemoney total to HKD $165,854,625, or in excess of AUD $32 million, which widened the gap between Winx and himself.
The mark of a great champion miler is, as a rule, the acceleration the animal is able to exhibit from the 400m to 200m mark, and Golden Sixty is no exception as the times below show. He put his opposition to the sword at the 400m mark on Sunday, showing devastating acceleration running this section in 10.68 seconds. He has run similar times in past mile races for this sectional as indicated below:
- 20 November 2022: 10.72 (11.30 final 200m 33.26 final 600m)
- 23 January 2022: 10.56 (11.43, 33.15) in defeat off a very slow pace
- 21 November 2021: 10.57 (11.35, 32.86)
- 24 January 2021: 10.73 (11.44, 33.22)
The acceleration shown by Golden Sixty is very much reminiscent of that great miler / middle distance champion Ambitious Dragon, who clocked in two group mile wins:
- 29 January 2012: 10.69 (11.57, 33.65)
- 6 May 2012 10.68: (11.34, 33.35)
The reader will note that based on these times Golden Sixty is the superior performer in terms of “turn of foot” and final 200m and 600m times.
In the 2023 calendar year Golden Sixty raced four times for four wins, and these wins established new and higher levels of excellence, as has been detailed above, for a horse racing in Hong Kong. He is now the benchmark upon which any future horse aspiring to be a champion of Hong Kong racing has to be measured.
Golden Sixty was foaled on 14 October 2015. He was the sixth foal of the broodmare Gaudeamus (USA) (1998). Asco International Pty Ltd imported her to Australia in foal to Pivotal (Great Britain) when she was three years old. Gaudeamus is Latin for “let us rejoice”, and that is precisely what the owner of Golden Sixty, Stanley Chan Ka Leung, has been doing en route to his bank while we who enjoy and take delight in the rare thrill and excitement of witnessing the career of a true champion unravelling now celebrate our good fortune.
During Gaudeamus’ breeding career in Australia, she was only once covered by Medaglio D’Oro (USA) (1999), whose stud fee was then $55,000. The product of this mating was Golden Sixty. It was a fortuitous mating because earlier in 2015 a son on Medaglio D’Oro, Vancouver, had won the Golden Slipper. It is worth noting that Asco International still owns Gaudeamus and a 2YO filly out of her named Golden Millions (sired by Vancouver, making her a three-quarter sister to Golden Sixty). She has yet to race.
The colt by Medaglio D’Oro x Gaudeamus was sold at the 2017 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale for AUD $120,000 to a New Zealand bloodstock company. He was taken across the Tasman and was prepared for the November Ready to Run Sale at Karaka. It was there that Hong Kong trainer Francis Lui spotted him and bought him for NZD $300,000. Did this bloodstock company make a quick profit or has it suffered a loss? The colt was then gelded. What is of interest is that Golden Sixty was not raced as a 2YO. In fact, he did not race until he was an Autumn 3YO on 31 March 2019 and then only had three other starts at that age. This probably explains why he is still winning at G1 level as an 8YO. Because he is an 8YO, the question arises whether 2023 will be the high water mark of his career and can he sustain so high a level through 2024? On the other hand, he has had 13 fewer starts than Winx and he still may have “petrol in the tank”.
Although Golden Sixty bears the suffix (AUS) it must not be forgotten that both parents bear a different suffix (USA) – the same as Good Ba Ba. Nevertheless, Golden Sixty deserves to be ranked high up on the list of the best horses ever bred in Australia, probably in the top 10.
When one encounters such a champion, one is led to investigate his pedigree to see if there are clues to his greatness. Do the sire’s bloodlines match or blend with the dam’s as an explanation of his superiority? This is certainly the case with Golden Sixty. The first thing one notices is that his third dam is by the champion Damascus (USA) (1964) (31 starts for 21 wins and seven placings). On Medaglio D’Oro’s side, his dam was sired by Bailjumper (1974), a son of DAMASCUS. On either side of Golden Sixty’s pedigree there is a male strain of Damascus counterbalanced by a female strain. There is a popular school of thought amongst theorists on mating racehorses that this is the ideal balance.
The second dam of Golden Sixty is by another champion Seattle Slew (1974) (17 starts for 14 wins and two placings), who won the American Triple Crown and did not taste defeat until he was a 4YO. This cross, Medaglio D’Oro over a mare with the blood of Seattle Slew or his half-brother Lomond (1980), has proven to be highly successful, resulting in 12 other black type winners apart from Golden Sixty.
Gaudeamus was by Distorted Humour (1993), a son of Forty Niner (1985). What is now important is not the racing record of these two stallions but how well mares containing their bloodlines have done when mated with Medaglio D’Oro:
- Elate (2014), a dual G1 winning daughter of that sire, was out of a mare by Distorted Humour. Her second dam was by A.P. Indy, a son of Seattle Slew. This is the cross that has produced Golden Sixty.
- Risk Taking (2018), a G3 winner in USA, is by Medaglio D’Oro from a Distorted Humour mare and his second dam is by a son of Damascus.
- Songbird (2013), a multiple G1 winning daughter of Medaglio d’Oro, is from a mare by another son of Forty Niner.
- Rachel Alexandra was the USA Horse of the Year in 2009. She won the Kentucky Oaks (G1) and then took on the males in the second leg of the Triple Crown – the Preakness St – and defeated them. She was the first female for 85 years to do that. She also won three other G1 races. She is bred along the same lines as Golden Sixty and has basic elements of Elate’s pedigree. Her dam is by Roar (1993), also by a son of Forty Niner. The dam line of Roar is the same as Poker (1963), who sired the dam of Seattle Slew.
It is clear from this analysis that Golden Sixty is no genetic freak but was bred on a cross which had the potential to produce a G1 performer.