Accustomed to major race success, Yuga Kawada and Kiyoshi Hagiwara will lay siege to Golden Sixty’s G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (1600m) crown with Danon Kingly at Sha Tin on Sunday (12 December), carrying immense respect for the defending champion.
Hagiwara, who successfully campaigned Normcore in the 2020 G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m), has great confidence in G1 Yasuda Kinen (1600m) winner Danon Kingly, but he also holds tremendous admiration for Golden Sixty.
“I’ve had the pleasure of watching Golden Sixty’s races and he’s exceptionally strong,” Hagiwara said from Tokyo. “Regarding Danon Kingly, the horse is in good condition and you would like him to show his best on the day and, with that, hope he’ll be at the finish.”
Pointing to Danon Kingly’s superior record on good or firm ground – six wins and four placings from 13 starts – Hagiwara is encouraged by Hong Kong’s dry weather and the likelihood of a good track on Sunday.
“In regards to Danon Kingly and Hong Kong, I thought the horse would be suited to good ground and having the experience and seen the ground in Hong Kong (previously), I thought the horse was a good match for here,” Hagiwara said.
Hagiwara retains Kawada as the striking five-year-old’s rider despite engaging Zac Purton last season aboard Normcore.
“In regards to the jockey, Kawada has had great success riding Danon Kingly and obviously has a great relationship with the horse so, in order to get the horse’s best, we wanted to stick with Kawada who, up until now has had great results with the horse,” he said.
Kawada hopes to add more lustre to an already imposing 2021 haul capped by LONGINES Hong Kong Cup contender Loves Only You’s Breeders’ Cup triumph.
“I’ve had a well-enough year overall,” he said modestly. “I’ve had some obviously big-race results but, overall, I’m looking to improve and I would like to get a more winners in Japan but, on the big stage, I’m very happy with the year.”
Kawada believes Danon Kingly has the attributes to contend at the weekend.
“He’s had excellent form in Japan this year with the win and a second. I’ve been impressed not just with the results but the way the horse has handled himself,” Kawada said.
“I haven’t sat on the horse in Hong Kong yet. I will ride him on Friday just to get a feeling for the horse and where he’s at but so far everything is going to plan and I look forward to seeing the horse show his exceptional ability this weekend.
“I’ll focus on my own position in the race, but I’ll wait and see how the race unfolds and based on that, I would just like Danon Kingly to get into his own rhythm. If the horse can get in his own rhythm, that’s when he shows his best. He’s quite versatile if he can get a nice rhythm, so a specific position within the race isn’t a big concern or focus at the moment.”
Apart from Danon Kingly and Loves Only You, Kawada will take the reins on defending LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) champion Danon Smash.
“He obviously had a fantastic result winning this race here last year. He’s had some very good runs in Japan this year. Last start, he wasn’t quite able to show his best but I’m very confident going into this Sunday and very much looking forward to riding the horse and hoping he can show his best,” Kawada said.