He may have only a couple of runners on Champions Day at Sha Tin on Sunday, but trainer Richard Gibson has one of the best and one of the most promising.
In dual Group One winner Wellington, Gibson has a horse at the peak of his powers and the trainer is confident the five-year-old remains in good form ahead of the Group One Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1,200m) after winning the Group Two Sprint Cup just three weeks ago.
“It’s been a very straightforward and easy run in since the last race and I’m just hoping he’s got enough petrol left in the tank for the end of the season,” Gibson said.
“We only did one prep run going into the international races so I’m really happy with his form and the horse is thriving at the moment.”
With victory over most of this weekend’s rivals already under his belt, Gibson is worried more about how the race is run rather than any of his competition.
“The biggest danger would be tempo and track conditions, that’s my only anxiety going into the race. The previous race he was carrying a penalty and this time it’s fixed weights, so that’s in his favour.”
Along with Russian Emperor, Wellington is officially rated the joint third-best horse in Hong Kong behind Golden Sixty and Waikuku and, while some may not give the sprinter the credit he deserves, Gibson has no doubt where he ranks among the horses to have passed through his hands.
“He’s right up there with the best I’ve trained,” Gibson said. “He’s a very fast racehorse and he has performed at the highest level for the past two seasons.
“As long as he keeps on winning I don’t really care what’s written pre-race or post-race. It’s all about the horse’s performance.
“He’s now a multiple Group One winner and he’s one of the best sprinters in Hong Kong. The only thing that is important is the race result, nothing else.”
While Wellington has already proved himself at the highest level, Gibson’s other runner on the card Cordyceps Six is rapidly rising through the ranks and victory in the Class Two Silent Witness Handicap (1,200m) would result in the three-year-old verging on Group class.
‘He’s been the best sprinter in HK for some time’: Wellington delivers again
Already a five-time winner in Hong Kong, Gibson was at first surprised by the young sprinter’s success at the track as he shows next to nothing in the mornings.
“He’s been an interesting horse to train because his trackwork is very poor but he makes his statement on raceday,” Gibson said.
“He’s gone through the ranks really smoothly in Hong Kong and for a three-year-old to have already won five races, that’s very rare and wouldn’t have happened for many years.
“We’ve got plans for the horse and he can continue to improve in rating. I prefer horses to do it on the track and do it for everyone to see, but the stats show you it’s an exceptional achievement for a three-year-old to have won so many and I’m certain he can win some more.”
Cordyceps Six has been partnered by Blake Shinn in his past two victories and Gibson was not tempted to switch to a new jockey despite the Australian announcing last week that he plans to leave Hong Kong at the end of the season.
“Blake’s ridden the horse exceptionally well,” Gibson said. “He’s got a lot of faith in this horse and we’re delighted to use his services for as long as possible.”