With Golden Sixty sidelined, door opens for Voyage Bubble
Golden Sixty's domination of Hong Kong's mile ranks will take a pause on Jan. 21. The winner of eight out of the last 10 Group 1 races run over a mile at Sha Tin, Hong Kong's champion will bypass the HK $13 million Stewards' Cup (G1) due to a rare setback, opening the door for one of his rivals to win the first Group 1 mile race run in Hong Kong without his presence since mid-2020.
Second in the Hong Kong Mile (G1) last month, Voyage Bubble has taken another forward step as a five-year-old following setbacks and his shock 45-1 Hong Kong Derby success last season for trainer Ricky Yiu.
"He's doing really, really well. It seems as though he has never had a race. He'll race in the Stewards' Cup on the 21st of January," Yiu said.
🏆BMW Hong Kong Derby 2023— 𝙒𝙤𝙧𝙡𝙙𝙍𝙖𝙘𝙞𝙣𝙜 (@WorldRacing1) March 19, 2023
2000m, 24.000.000 HKD, for 4yo
🇭🇰 Sha Tin
Voyage Bubble (AUS)
(4G Deep Field - Raheights, by Rahy)
J :A. Badel
T :P.-F. Yiu
O :Sunshine and Moonlight Syndicate
🥉 Beauty Eternal (Starspangledbanner) pic.twitter.com/HFwHsPUt3d
Voyage Bubble has five wins from 14 starts, twice prevailing over the mile. He beat home runners from Hong Kong, Japan, Ireland, France and Singapore in the Hong Kong Mile, tenaciously posting a career-best run behind Golden Sixty.
"I expect there'll be a lot more entries with Golden Sixty not running in the Stewards' Cup. It'll be a very interesting race for Voyage Bubble to see how he performs again, but he does keep improving – he is a magnificent horse," Yiu said.
Beauty Eternal, Beauty Joy and Encountered – all defeated by Golden Sixty and Voyage Bubble in December – are likely to contest the Stewards' Cup, just like California Spangle, who has been unplaced across his past three starts.
James McDonald has been booked to ride Voyage Bubble in the Stewards' Cup.
Looking to Happy Valley's fixture on Thursday, Yiu saddles the three-time winning Excellent Fighter in the Class 3 Sea Eagle Handicap. Excellent Fighter has returned this campaign to finish 11th and third. He breaks from barrier 7 with jockey Andrea Atzeni up.
"He's trialed a few times at Happy Valley and it's about time I gave him a go. He's been disappointing so far this season, but I think he will perform again," Yiu said.
A cracking Class 2 Albatross Handicap closes the midweek card, featuring Son Pak Fu, who aims for a hat-trick of wins with Jerry Chau for trainer Benno Yung.
"This season he has kept improving, which is a good sign for him. He's in good form now and he's always competitive, even in Class 2," Yung said.