Hong Kong’s latest superstar Golden Sixty stretched his unbeaten run to 12 in the Stewards’ Cup at Sha Tin.
However, Francis Lui’s five-year-old was made to pull out all the stops to add a second Group One to his record.
Dropped out as he usually is by Vincent Ho, he began his customary late surge early in the straight, but on this occasion the response was not quite as electric as it has been in the past.
While Golden Sixty was charging down the outside, neither Ka Ying Star nor Southern Legend were prepared to give an inch.
Golden Sixty got to within a neck and for a few strides it looked as if his winning run was about to come to an end as he could not get his head in front.
Champions need tenacity as well as class, though, and Golden Sixty forged ahead close home to beat Southern Legend by a head.
“They went pretty slow all the way, actually, so he was a little keen and he was pulling a little bit and then everyone sprinted home,” said Ho.
“I knew I would still get there, but it was quite close.
“The saddle slipped back a little bit at the 300 (metre mark) but it was still OK, but it was not as comfortable for me and Golden Sixty, of course.
“But top athletes, top horses need to overcome all kinds of different circumstances.”
Liu said: “I was a bit worried. The pace was a bit slow. I feel OK now after the race.”
The Hong Kong Gold Cup – the second leg of the Triple Crown – is likely to be Golden Sixty’s next race.
“We’ll just see how he recovers,” Lui said.
Sprinter Silent Witness currently holds the record for the longest winning streak in Hong Kong. He was beaten by Bullish Luck after 17 straight wins.