Hong Kong’s former champion sprinter Wellington appeared in good shape on Tuesday morning ahead of his reappearance in the HK$5.35 million Gr2 BOCHK Private Banking Jockey Club Sprint on 19 November at Sha Tin.
Now housed with trainer Jamie Richards, Wellington tuned up smartly on the Sha Tin dirt under jockey Alexis Badel.
The seven-year-old worked nicely throughout the run, steadily making ground to cross the line in third position behind California Spangle and Celestial Colours, respectively, with the former clocking 1m 10.11s for the 1200m practice run.
“I thought he trialled well. He obviously drew out wide and got caught wide, but I think it was pretty normal, like one of his trials from last season, so he seems to be in good shape. He’s had a little bit of a quiet time since he arrived back down from Conghua,” Richards said.
The winner of four Group 1s and 12 races overall for former trainer Richard Gibson, Wellington will aim to defend his crown in the HK$26 million Gr1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint on 10 December at Sha Tin’s HK$118 million LONGINES Hong Kong International Races.
“He felt great. He was relaxed, he showed me that he was happy to try hard and he did everything by himself. He seems pretty fit actually, so it was a good trial,” Badel said.
Badel has won three Group 1 races atop Wellington and will ride the gelding in the BOCHK Private Banking Jockey Club Sprint.
On the day, he will also partner Five G Patch in the HK$5.35 million Gr2 BOCHK Jockey Club Cup (2000m) and Voyage Bubble in the HK$5.35 million Gr2 BOCHK Private Wealth Jockey Club Mile (1600m).
Wellington has earned HK$63.52 million for connections, while his latest effort saw him finish down the track in the Gr1 Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Stakes (1200m) at Royal Ascot in June.
The horse has since spent nearly two months at Conghua, which is the first time across his career that he has made the journey to the world-class racing and training facility.
“We just wanted to try something different with him (sending him to Conghua) post his trip to Ascot. It’s always a little bit of an unknown when horses come back from travelling, whether they’re the same horse or not. At this stage everything seems to be going well with him and hopefully he can turn up and run a good race next Sunday,” Richards said.
Victorious first-up in the HK$5.35 million Gr2 Sha Tin Trophy Handicap, California Spangle will chase a 12th win at his 20th start in the BOCHK Private Wealth Jockey Club Mile after working under jockey Hugh Bowman for trainer Tony Cruz.
“He felt great. He was much more enthusiastic in the trial than when he was in the trial leading up to his first-up run, so I take encouragement from that.
“I let him do a bit more than he did that day as well and he pulled up in better shape, but he does have the benefit of a race under his belt and a pretty solid one at that, so we’re looking forward to the Group 2 race,” Bowman said.
Bowman will partner California Spangle in Sunday week’s contest, while he’ll also renew a partnership with Russian Emperor in the BOCHK Jockey Club Cup for trainer Douglas Whyte.
Fellow Cruz trainee Beauty Joy worked in the same trial on Tuesday under Matthew Chadwick, finishing in eighth position behind Packing Treadmill.