Cordyceps Six announced himself as a potential sprint superstar on Sunday, producing an electric victory in the Group Three Sha Tin Vase (1,200m).
The Richard Gibson-trained youngster was competing at Group level for the first time in his nascent career but he still carried the faith of Hong Kong’s punters as he was sent off at just $2.55 against some of the city’s most established top-line sprinters, including Group One winners Sky Field and Hot King Prawn.
With regular rider Blake Shinn unable to make the weight of 113 pounds, Cordyceps Six was partnered by Alexis Badel – who has formed a tremendous partnership with another Gibson star in Wellington – and the Frenchman had his mount well positioned in midfield early.
Halfway down the straight, Cordyceps Six had plenty to do as fellow lightweight Nervous Witness kicked clear from the front but the exciting three-year-old showed a blistering turn of foot to close the gap and get up by a neck.
Gibson, who was accompanied at the races by his daughter Camille, now has another horse to tackle top Group races and was delighted with the victory.
“I said to my daughter before the race that it was going to be tight but I didn’t wish it was going to be that tight,” Gibson said.
“It was a wonderful ride from Alexis and I’ve got a special word for my staff because this horse was very tricky before the race.
“He [sweats] in the paddock and they did a really good job today. He was a bit calmer than in his previous start so a big high-five to the guys.
“It’s pretty rare for a top racehorse to be so [sweaty] pre-race, I can’t think of one that I’ve ever trained, and he gets very upset before a race and it’s only when he gets out on the track that he starts to relax better.”
With a second sprint star to add to the mix, Gibson will have a task on his hands if he wants to keep Wellington and Cordyceps Six apart next season but the trainer admits he is lucky to have such a problem.
“I’m pretty relaxed about it. We’ll see how they go and see how he matures,” Gibson said. “I haven’t spoken to Alexis yet but Blake Shinn was always sure that this guy would get 1,400m, so we’ll see how we go. It’s a nice problem to have.
“It’s very rare that three-year-olds do that at this time. As a stable, we’re very proud of our big-race record.
“There are very few stables in Hong Kong with our Group record, we looked at the stats and we’re in the top three. That’s where we want to stay and be even stronger next season.”
The 2022-23 campaign is shaping up to be another big one for Gibson but he will not be planning any targets.
“I never plot,” Gibson said. “I’m the opposite of other trainers in Hong Kong that plot months and months ahead.”