French Success at Sha Tin (Hong Kong)
28 April 2021
French jockey Alexis Badel and former French trainer Richard Gibson landed the biggest prizemoney of their careers when Wellington (All Too Hard) won the G1 FWD Chairman’s Sprint (1200m) at Sha Tin in Hong Kong on Sunday.
For Badel (Champion Apprentice in France in 2007 and on his fourth riding permit in Hong Kong) this was not only his first ride at the prestigious FWD Meeting but also his first Group One victory in Hong Kong, more than justifying his decision to commit to remain in the Territory for the entire racing season (September 2020-July 2021).
Having put in a poor performance in the Group Two trial race three weeks earlier when having no luck in the race, Wellington was perfectly positioned by Badel in this contest and coming to the final 300m he switched to the centre of the course making up three lengths on the leader. In so doing he recorded a very quick sectional for the final 400m of 21.66 seconds racing away to score by one and a half lengths over Sky Field. After the race Badel said:
‘He had a perfect trip. The horse was much more relaxed than last time. Honestly, the draw last time was a bit difficult, and the ground was faster as well, so it was difficult for me to relax the horse without giving ground. Today, I had the perfect race, just close to the pace and more relaxed and when I put a little bit of pressure on my horse, he responded very well. To me, he's a top-class horse and he just proved it today’.
Wellington, a four-year-old, was the least experienced horse in the race and has now won seven of his ten Hong Kong starts. His record over the 1200m journey is six from seven. Post victory the jockey stated:
‘It's definitely a fantastic moment because I’ve known this horse since last season, and he's been great to me. He gave me a lot of winners and I feel just so happy and blessed to be back on him because it's never easy to jump on a good horse here and win a big race like that. It's fantastic and I'm glad for Richard Gibson, his trainer, because he's been very good to me. He gave me a lot of support since my first season here and it's fantastic to deliver in such a big day.
For Gibson, this was his second win of the race having scored with Gold Fun in 2015. He said ‘It's fantastic to see the fans back today and I'm just delighted for the owners. They were one of the first owners in my stable when I came here. They've been very loyal and supportive and it's a great satisfaction to source and deliver such a great horse. He came from Australia, and he was sourced from the trials. I always thought we would probably get to the winning enclosure, but the road is a little bit rocky, life's never easy but it's great to get there in the end.’
‘It's great for Hong Kong and the punters who have been able to return to the racetrack and for the connections of Wellington who have trusted me since I moved here. He (Wellington) arrived at my place after a few trials in Australia and we thought he was good, but the way has been able to get to the top has been not easy. I will now spell him and bring him back for the Group One sprint at the International Meeting in December.’
For the winner, first prize was worth 18.42 million Hong Kong dollars (€ 1.18m). Wellington was purchased at the Magic Millions sales on the Gold Coast in Australia for A$70,000 (44,800 €). His sprinting bloodline is strong being by All Too Hard making him a half-brother of the undefeated champion Black Caviar. All Too Hard won four Group One races. As a stallion has recorded fourteen Group winners including four Group One contests. This is the first foal of the dam (Mihiri). She won four sprints and was placed in the G2 Breeders Classic.
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