After recent wins for young guns Cordyceps Six and Navas Two, trainer Richard Gibson heads into Wednesday’s Happy Valley card full of confidence.
Gibson has had three winners in the past three weeks, taking his seasonal tally to eight, and he feels the second half of the season will feature continued improvement.
“I called it at the beginning of the year,” Gibson said. “We’ve got 20 young horses this year, so I knew that after January we would be in a much stronger position.”
While he has some exciting young talent to unleash, it’s some of Gibson’s stalwarts who are in action at the Valley on Wednesday and the trainer feels Heart Conquered is the pick over Turin Warrior with both in action in the Class Three Hong Kong Park Handicap (1,000m).
“Heart Conquered has been a very consistent performer,” Gibson said. “He’s now down off his lowest rating and he’s been very competitive without winning. I expect him to run a similar race.”
Gibson has another couple of runners in the Class Three Kowloon Park Handicap (1,200m) in Gold Chest and Equilibrium Turbo and his runners are at vastly different stages of their career.
Richard Gibson’s Wellington delivers on potential to land Chairman’s Sprint Prize
“Gold Chest is another consistent type and he’s come down in the ratings,” Gibson said. “He’s towards the end of his career but he can still be competitive off this rating.
“Equilibrium Turbo is a young horse and has had a few gate issues but he trialled well last week and is another who should be competitive off this mark.”
Full Power has saluted twice in 23 starts for Gibson. He represents the trainer in the Class Four Morse Park Handicap (1,800m) but has found things difficult since suffering an injury towards the end of last season.
“He had knee surgery and has struggled to find his form but he’s going up in distance which should suit, so I hope he’ll run some sort of race,” Gibson said.
Go Ballistic makes his second start for Gibson in the Class Five Shan Kwong Road Park Handicap (2,200m) and the trainer plans to use different tactics after learning plenty from the galloper’s first run for the stable.
“I think I made a mistake in riding him too far forward last time,” Gibson said. “He’s better suited to Class Five, we’ll sit and wait and hopefully finish strong.”
The trainer has two of the best young horses in Hong Kong in his care and was thrilled with the win of Cordyceps Six at Sha Tin last time.
“He’s the best three-year-old in [Hong Kong] and to win four races at this stage of his three-year-old career is rare in Hong Kong,” Gibson said.
“The programme insists that we must now try him over 1,200m, as there’s nothing in the immediate future over five furlongs. Blake [Shinn] is confident he’ll get that trip but I have reservations.”
Gibson was also effusive in his praise of Navas Two, who completed a hat-trick at Sha Tin last month.
“Aside from Romantic Warrior, he’s the best four-year-old private purchase in [Hong Kong] at the moment,” Gibson said. “He’s won his last three starts and goes again over a mile next week and has every confidence of the stable.”
One of Gibson’s older stars is Wellington and the Group One winner has had a quiet start to the season.
“He’s had a slow start this season,” Gibson said. “I don’t think he was 100 per cent ready for his first start, the Hong Kong Sprint was just a mess of a race with all those fallers and it’s clear to see he was unlucky in running on his last start.”
Wellington will step up to 1,400m for his next target in the Group One Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup.
“There’s a question mark over the trip but at this stage of his career we’re comfortable giving it a go,” Gibson said.