Golden Sixty was made to pull out all the stops to notch a fourth successive Group One triumph in the FWD Champions Mile at Sha Tin.
Hong Kong’s latest superstar was chasing a 17th victory overall for trainer Francis Lui and jockey Vincent Ho, but his two most recent wins had not been completely straightforward.
The five-year-old’s saddle slipped when holding on by a head to win the Stewards Cup in January, while he just prevailed by a short-head from Furore on his most recent appearance in the 10-furlong Hong Kong Gold Cup.
Returning to a mile, Golden Sixty was a hot favourite to extend his winning streak – and looked set to score decisively after sweeping to the front early in the home straight.
However, More Than This built up a head of steam in the final furlong and in the end there was just a head between the pair at the line.
Ho said: “He has never been chased and we learnt today that he still can fight when something chases him, not just when he is doing the chasing, which is good.
“That was amazing (to have a crowd), a big thanks to all the fans today who came out, it makes such a difference, the atmosphere and everything is so much different.
“It’s been a good season, seven races for Golden Sixty and I’m happy for him to win this, hopefully he will have a break now until next season, he had a couple of tough runs these past two.”
Ho completed a big-race double in the following FWD QEII Cup aboard Loves Only You.
Yoshito Yahagi’s mare led home a Japanese one-two-three-four in the Group One contest, with Glory Vase finishing second, Daring Tact third and Kiseki fourth.
Daring Tact – winner of the Fillies’ Triple Crown in her homeland in 2020 – was a hot favourite, but had to make do with minor honours behind Loves Only You, who was last seen finishing third to John and Thady Gosden’s Mishriff in the Dubai Sheema Classic.
“I can’t describe it,” Ho said of his big-race double.
“I don’t dare to look back until the finish line, but she was amazing. I’m grateful that the Japanese connections asked me to ride her.
“The QEII Cup is one of my dream goals as well as the Derby and the December internationals, a QEII win means a lot.
“It’s amazing today with Golden Sixty and Loves Only You. It’s definitely one of the highlights, I’ll enjoy it for sure.”
The other Group One prize on the card, the Chairman’s Sprint, went to Richard Gibson’s Wellington, with Alexis Badel the winning rider.
A total of 5,179 people were in attendance at Sha Tin, and Gibson was thrilled to see his charge triumph in front of a crowd.
He said: “It’s fantastic to see the fans back today and I’m just delighted for the owners. They were one of the first owners in my stable when I came here. They’ve been very loyal and supportive and it’s a great satisfaction to source and deliver such a great horse.”