Trainer Richard Gibson backs Giant Treasure to hold his own in Classic Mile

History and the handicapper say Richard Gibson-trained Giant Treasure has it all to do in Sunday’s HK$8 million Hong Kong Classic Mile, but the grey’s handlers are putting their faith in flesh and blood rather than arithmetic.

Off a rating of just 83, Giant Treasure would struggle to make the field in most editions of the Classic Mile, let alone win. Since the turn of the century, 13 horses have made a Classic Mile field with a rating of less than 85 – seven of those in two runnings in 2000 and 2002 – and none has won, just one or two have been placed.

Gibson-trained Gold-Fun was the lowest-rated winner in that period, rated 91 two years ago when he carried the same Pan Sutong colours as Giant Treasure to hold off 81-rated Garlic Boy.

That result alone offers encouragement for the same management team on Sunday, but the low rating is something Gibson acknowledges, even if he refuses to be handcuffed by it.

“Of course, we thought about going towards the Derby a different way, through lesser races where he wouldn’t be badly handicapped like he is at level weights, but I thought this was the right path and I have no regrets about it,” Gibson said.

“It’s a very big challenge at the ratings, yes, and we must be going in as an outsider. But, for me, horses prove their worth by running and performing in Group One races.

“I think he’s good enough, but I don’t want to be a trainer talking a horse up before a big race. Giant Treasure has to create his own headlines and that’s why he’s running.”

Raced as Sea Defence for Roger Charlton in England, Giant Treasure won two of his four starts, minor races at 1,400m and 1,600m, which saw him arrive on a modest 73 handicap mark.

“He didn’t win anything special in England. He hasn’t been up against good performers, I just liked the manner he did things,” Gibson said.

“He’s a nice horse, a nice mover and, as a horseman, I thought there was everything to like about him. Now he has to live up to that in races.”

Douglas Whyte was on board Gold-Fun, one of two wins in the race for the South African great who also engineered a huge upset with Tiber in 2004, beating Hong Kong Mile winner and long odds-on favourite Lucky Owners.

“It seems an open, complicated race this year – a race where we’re all going to know a lot more afterwards about some of the horses going around,” said Whyte. “Obviously, my horse Giant Treasure isn’t well placed at the official ratings, while Divine Calling is placed to win it, but my horse is very raw and new. Every race brings him on and this might be the race to bring him on the most and show he is up to the best of his age.

“I don’t think he could have done more or done it better in his two runs, in the circumstances, and the mile won’t trouble him.”



Stable Stars