Gibson spins Great Stories
Richard Gibson has already exceeded his own expectations in his rookie season and his import Great Stories similarly out-did himself in his local debut, overcoming a host of idiosyncrasies in an impressive display.
Gibson said he just wanted to scrape by the minimum performance criteria of 13 wins in his first term, but he has rocketed past that benchmark and reached 25 victories yesterday with the first horse he purchased to bring to Hong Kong.
'To be honest, it was such an unknown coming here and my biggest concern was getting the minimum amount of winners,' he said. 'It worried me that I wasn't going to be able to do it, so anything else is a bonus.'
Great Stories, a smart-looking northern hemisphere three-year-old, should ensure at least a few more wins, with the trainer predicting they are more likely to come next season.
'He is a tricky horse, and we've taken a very long time before giving him his first run ... he arrived in August,' Gibson said. 'He had very good Irish form and is a very exciting prospect for next season, but we're not in a rush with him. You could see in the run that he is green and learning his job. I thought his acceleration was very impressive.'
Olivier Doleuze surprisingly got the light-mouthed youngster to settle back on the fence, but the Frenchman said racing manners were the least of his concerns with a nervous individual whose troubles include not liking to 'walk underneath things'.
That poses problems when heading through the underpass onto the Sha Tin training tracks in the morning, or into the barriers pre-race.
'The stable has done so well, he is very complicated,' Doleuze said. 'When there is something above him he gets very upset, he doesn't like to pass under a bridge, or go into his stable.
'He is a very nice horse, but he is not an easy ride. He has a bit of a manner but he has potential, he is only young and has true quality.'
Doleuze said a 1,700m Happy Valley trial, where he gave Great Stories his head and let him stride to a big lead, may have taken the edge off his hard-going ways.
'He has such a big action, that you're always on his mouth,' explained Doleuze.
'Every gallop you give him you're always trying to slow him, so last time he trialled, I just let him roll ... he trialled OK and in the last 200m he just gave up. That settled him a bit I think and today he was OK.'
'It's good for him to win, but I think Richard will give him a long time and next season he can be a nice horse.'