Wellington took his place among some of Hong Kong’s great sprinters when landing his second Group One Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1,200m) at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Richard Gibson’s speedball became only the fifth horse since 1990 to win back-to-back runnings of the Chairman’s Sprint Prize, joining Quicken Away, Mr Vitality, Silent Witness and Lucky Nine.
Wellington defeated Computer Patch by an easy length and a quarter and Gibson was delighted with the win, ranking Wellington as one of the best sprinters in training anywhere on the planet.
“He’s one of the top sprinters in the world,” Gibson said. “It’s difficult to win these big Group One races back-to-back. He’s done it and it’s a great achievement.”
Heading into the race, Gibson was confident that everything had gone to plan and admitted he would have been disappointed had Wellington failed to salute.
“I’ve been pinching myself for the last three weeks,” Gibson said. “The horse was ready three weeks ago and I was waking up every morning and saying to myself ‘what can go wrong?’.
“It was all going far too smooth but that was because of the athleticism of the horse and the faith we’ve got in the jockey and the team behind us.
“Going into the race, I thought we had the best horse so I would have been very disappointed if I wasn’t in this position after the race. It was a matter of getting our plans right and the prep had gone so well.
“I must say well done to his groom, she has such a wonderful relationship with the horse, as does his exercise rider. We’ve got a lot of confidence in him – we knew if we ticked the boxes today, he’d get the job done.
Gibson is no stranger to training top sprinters and knows exactly what the attributes are that set the five-year-old apart from his peers.
“The horse has got such mental strength. It’s rare for a sprinter to be so calm before a race,” the trainer said.
“I think what makes him different is that he can turn on this power like a flick of a switch. Alexis [Badel] ticks all the boxes and I thought he gave him a wonderfully good ride today.”
While in different times an international raid on Royal Ascot may have been considered, Gibson won’t head down that route this year and the galloper has had his final start of the season.
“Covid changes every two weeks,” he said. “It just seems too difficult. We’ve had such a wonderful season with the horse and we’ve now got plenty of time to sit down with the owners and have a chat.”
This year’s Chairman’s Sprint Prize result mirrored the 2021 running, with Wellington again leading home last year’s placed horses Computer Patch and Sky Field.
‘He’s been the best sprinter in HK for some time’: Wellington delivers again
Computer Patch bounced right back to form in his third start for trainer Jimmy Ting Koon-ho, who was achieving his best Group One result with this runner-up finish.
Jockey Matthew Chadwick finished one spot off the winner’s enclosure for the second time at the highest level this season following Savvy Nine’s effort in the Gold Cup.
Sky Field’s third-placed finish means he has finished in the top four in his five Group One races.