Any doubts over whether Wellington is the best sprinter in Hong Kong have been dispelled after he showed another stunning turn of foot to take down the Group Two Sprint Cup (1,200m) at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Richard Gibson’s stable star was fully 10 lengths behind the pacesetter Kurpany as the field turned into the straight but he unleashed his afterburners as soon as he was asked by jockey Alexis Badel to pass most of the field up the Sha Tin straight and beat Sight Success by a neck, with favourite Master Eight a length back in third.
The statistics were against Wellington, with those towards the head of the market failing in this race in the past few years, and Gibson admitted to being concerned when reading about the trend as part of his morning routine.
“I had a very nasty breakfast this morning,” Gibson said. “I choked on my cornflakes when I read in print that Wellington cannot win, so luckily I’ll have a more relaxing dinner this evening.
“It was a shock to start my morning with such a statement and it’s good these horses are proving experts wrong every time.
“I suppose the journalist was right, the stats are against us in these races and the horse had never run well on the B track, so there were some pre-race nerves, but the horse had been training so well and he showed a lot of class and ability.”
Already a dual Group One winner after victories in the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup in February and last season’s Chairman’s Sprint Prize, Wellington’s first Group Two success took his record to nine wins in 15 starts and his career earnings to more than HK$28 million.
While others may have doubted his sprinter, Gibson was always confident of Wellington’s standing.
“He’s been the best sprinter in Hong Kong for some time,” Gibson said. “He’s carrying quite a big penalty today and I thought he showed some class and style once again.”
With Gibson admitting to being frustrated by an inability to travel and take on some of the world’s best sprinters with Wellington as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, there is only one race left on the agenda this season and the trainer is confident that his horse will remain in good form ahead of his final assignment.
“These horses need very little training,” Gibson said. “I’ll just try to keep him in good shape and with a smile on his face.
“We’re in Hong Kong, so the programme dictates that the last race of his season will be [the Group One Chairman’s Sprint Prize] in three weeks.”
Wellington storms to second Group One win in Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup
Wellington had drifted to $5.4 before the off with plenty of support coming for proven Group One performer Hot King Prawn and rising star Master Eight, who both went off shorter in the market.
The gallant grey Hot King Prawn held every chance turning into the straight but was blitzed by Wellington and finished fifth, while there were no apparent excuses for the heavily-backed Master Eight.
He jumped with more speed than usual under Joao Moreira and was seemingly in the perfect position tracking the speed behind perennial pacesetter Kurpany but he was passed first by runner-up Sight Success and had no answers for the tremendous finishing kick of the mighty Wellington.