By Daryl Timms
Richard Gibson is confident Wellington is back to full health after recovering from a lameness issue and is primed for a big performance in the HK$24 million G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) at Sha Tin on Sunday (11 December).
Unable to produce trademark acceleration when sixth behind Lucky Sweynesse in the G2 BOCHK Private Banking Jockey Club Sprint (1200m) on 20 November, Wellington has overcome lameness in his right hind leg ahead of this weekend’s assignment.
“The horse pulled up lame, he’s a very expressive horse so he doesn’t need much to get him off his game. I think if he was a footballer, he would be like Ronaldo – so, when he gets a little thing, he rolls around and pretends it hurts, but it doesn’t really,” Gibson said at Sha Tin on Tuesday (6 December).
“We’re looking forward to the race.”
Wellington pleased Gibson with his recovery from a gallop at Sha Tin on Monday (5 December), when he clocked 48.6s (25.3 23.3) over 800m to dispel fitness doubts.
“I think more importantly was how he recovered from that work. Yesterday afternoon, when we came back to check the horse, it was very important that he had done the full recovery and it’s all systems go,” the Englishman said.
“He was on the track this morning, messing around, playing about – so, we’re really looking forward to the race on Sunday.”
Champion British jockey Ryan Moore replaces Alexis Badel after the Frenchman was injured in a recent fall in a turn of events which has left Gibson with mixed emotions. Badel has been aboard Wellington in eight of the gelding’s 11 wins.
“I have strong feelings for Alexis Badel. It’s a very big day for him to miss. He’s got a very good relationship with Wellington. He understands the horse very well, so my thoughts are with him but obviously delighted to call on Ryan’s expertise and experience for the big one,” said Gibson, who is also represented by Cordyceps Six in the LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint.
“He (Cordyceps Six) did race well last time. He’s only four, but his times are getting better. What he’s achieved already in his short career is exceptional and this will be the horse I’ll be crossing my fingers for at the barrier draw because I’d like a better gate for this horse.
“He’ll need some barrier draw help – if we’re drawn out wide again, it will be tough for him. If we get lucky and draw a good gate, I think he play his role.”
This weekend’s HK$110 million LONGINES Hong Kong International Races features four Group 1 races: HK$34 million G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m), HK$30 million G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (1600m), HK$24 million G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) and HK$22 million G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m).