Long regarded as one of the fastest horses Richard Gibson has handled, Wellington took a crucial step towards elite sprint contests with emphatic success in the Class 1 Lantau Island Handicap (1200m), downing a string of renowned rivals – including the world’s second-ranked sprinter Hot King Prawn – at Sha Tin on Saturday (13 March).
While Gibson repeatedly pointed to the favourable handicap conditions of the contest where Hot King Prawn (133lb), a last-start G1 winner, had to concede 20 pounds to Wellington, the sheer quality of the winning performance was measured in the margin and overall and sectional times.
Given time to settle by Frenchman Alexis Badel, the son of Australian sire All Too Hard scorched over the final 400m in 21.62s to surge past leader Computer Patch to salute by one and a quarter lengths with another emerging talent Sky Field a further neck back in third.
Wellington’s overall time of 1m 07.80s equalled Sacred Kingdom’s 2007 record for Class 1 1200m contests at Sha Tin.
Hot King Prawn, who is ranked the second-highest sprinter in the current LONGINES World’s Best Racehorse Rankings behind Nature Strip, finished fifth under his hefty weight as Wellington vindicated Gibson’s faith.
“Until you run against the very best there is always a doubt but if we were going to try our luck against the very best it was today because we had a big advantage in the handicap,” the Englishman said.