Wellington’s Gr1 Prospects Raised After Bowl Knockout

Gr2 Premier Bowl Handicap at Sha Tin on Sunday

Cementing his reputation as Hong Kong’s premier sprinter, Wellington has emphatically showcased his Gr1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint claims in December with a dazzling performance to win the Gr2 Premier Bowl Handicap over 1200m at Sha Tin on Sunday.

Resuming with 135lb under Alexis Badel, Hong Kong’s Champion Sprinter laid waste to 11-lighter weighted rivals in a searing 1m 07.78s – a time which compares favourably to Sacred Kingdom’s course record of 1m 07.50s, set in 2007 – in a display which rightly drew superlatives from Badel and trainer Richard Gibson.

Alexis Badel salutes as Wellington storms home (Pic – HKJC)

Tracking the favourite Lucky Sweynesse (124lb) before emerging from the eventual runners-up’s slipstream to prevail by a length, Wellington notched his 11th win from 17 starts as 2021 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint victor Sky Field (131lb) rocketed from the tail of the field to finish third in a race-best final 800m of 43.71s.

Hong Kong’s key contender for the HK$24 million G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m), Wellington gave Frenchman Badel the final and most treasured leg of a treble.

“Perfect – The question mark with older horses is always to feel good, to be healthy. That’s the main key,” Badel said after slotting his eighth win on Wellington.

“He’s got the quality and that’s proven. He’s outstanding. The way he began from the gates today was amazing. He’s so professional, so mature in his racing manners, so he’s a dream of a horse to ride.

“He’s now more mature. He’s got the ability that he’s always had but he’s more tractable now, he’s versatile – he does whatever you want. He’s just outstanding and he’s got that turn of foot that makes such a difference.”

For Gibson, Wellington’s dominant display was a bonus – and vindication of unwavering belief in the All Too Hard gelding.

“Obviously, we were the best horse in the race but could he carry the weight? To be really honest, I didn’t know but it had to be a good one to beat him today,” the Englishman said.

“Our big objective is December. We wanted to run today. It’s an added bonus that we won and we’re looking forward to the rest (of the season).

“He’s showed his class here now for two seasons and despite the big weight today, it’s a good sign for the rest of the season. I think the moment, I saw him jump I thought he was going to be hard to beat to be completely honest. He came out of the gates hungry and from that moment on, it was always a comfortable watch. I thought he was going to make it.

“I think the only thing that surprised me is the price (8/1). You’ve got the best horse in Hong Kong for two years over this trip and despite the weight, that price is extraordinary.”

Gibson plans to next start Wellington in the Gr2 BOCHK Private Banking Jockey Club Sprint (1200m) at Sha Tin on 20 November.

Hong Kong racing continues at Sha Tin on Wednesday night, 26 October.

  • Hong Kong Jockey Club

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