Wellington looks to join elite club with LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint triumph
Looking to leave a delayed start to his campaign and fitness queries in his wake, Wellington pleased Alexis Badel at Sha Tin this morning (Friday, 3 December) as he gears up for Sunday week’s (12 December) G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) and the opportunity of joining elite company.
Initially engaged to run in 17 October’s G2 Premier Bowl Handicap (1200m), Wellington was found to be lame and he subsequently made his seasonal return in last month’s G2 BOCHK Private Banking Jockey Club Sprint (1200m), finishing seventh.
But, if successful at the end-of-year HK$100 million showcase in nine days’ time, Wellington will join an elite club of only Fairy King Prawn (1999), Silent Witness (2004) and Beat The Clock (2019) as conquerors of the Chairman’s Sprint Prize and Hong Kong Sprint in the same calendar year.
“He gave me a good feel today as he was off the track for a long time, so he needed that first run to get him back to a better shape. I’m expecting improvement from him, he trialled well and delivered a strong finish this morning,” Badel said.
The bay extended down the outer in impressive fashion on the dirt after easing to the rear early on, pricking his ears through the line to grab first position under a hard hold by Badel in 1m 01.87s.
“Today was good, hopefully he pulls up great but he gave me a nice feel, he was strong and sharp so I’m very happy,” Badel said.
Badel is expecting an improved Wellington to step out for the HK$24 million test.
“We know he is a top horse in Hong Kong, we’re just looking for some improvement following his first run – he should be back to a better shape now, so let’s see on the big day what he can do,” Badel said.
Two starts ago at his final run of last season in April, the 121-rater (in Hong Kong) charged to a comfortable win in the 2021 G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m).
“It’s all about his preparation – it wasn’t ideal but he’s been off the track for a while and we knew he didn’t go to the races quite fit but I thought it was a good effort,” Badel said.
The five-year-old bay was defeated by three lengths first-up this term after surging wide on the turn for home. He advanced through his gears smoothly from there.
“I thought he ran a decent race, he should be back to a better shape and show improvement,” Badel said.
Success aboard Wellington would give Badel his first taste of LONGINES Hong Kong International Races exaltation.
“He’s a very honest horse, he’s very well behaved, he has his own personality but he’s a very talented horse – he’s a dream of a horse,” Badel said.
His trainer – Richard Gibson – will aim for a fourth success at the LONGINES Hong Kong International Races following the heroics of Doctor Dino and Akeed Mofeed.