Trainer Richard Gibson today (Sunday, 25 April) claimed a second HK$18 million G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) at Sha Tin with potentially outstanding four-year-old Wellington as Japan’s race favourite Danon Smash performed below expectations.
The Australian-bred gelding, a PPG (Privately Purchased Griffin) for Mr and Mrs Michael Cheng Wing On and Jeffrey Cheng Man Cheong, was the least experienced runner in the 13-horse field; contesting a G1 for the first time and ridden by Hong Kong-based Frenchman Alexis Badel who had not previously ridden in any FWD Champions Day G1 races.
Wellington scored his seventh win from just ten starts and his sixth from seven starts at the course and distance as he added to Gibson’s previous success with Gold-Fun in 2015.
Wellington produced a powerful finish from midfield, running his last 400 metres in a sizzling 21.66secs, to overhaul the front-runner Computer Patch who had been sweetly rated by Matthew Chadwick. The winning margin was a decisive one and a half lengths with the same gap to third-placed Sky Field under Blake Shinn.
Gibson’s charge, the 23rd Australian-bred winner, became just the fourth four-year-old to win the coveted, now a Group 1 prize – following Silent Witness (2004), Sacred Kingdom (2008) and Ivictory (2018).
The trainer will now afford the horse the opportunity to match the Hong Kong sprinting icons Silent Witness and Sacred Kingdom by aiming at the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) – a race twice won by each of the former stars after Chairman’s Sprint Prize success.