Royal Ascot is ‘on the table’ for Wellington

Last season’s champion sprinter could be the first Hong Kong horse to race at the June meeting in seven years as connections consider overseas options.

The G1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes is under strong consideration for Hong Kong's Wellington. (Photo by Kenneth Chan)

David Morgan

Chief Journalist


Wellington might well be on his way to Royal Ascot in June if he maintains his form through the G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize at Sha Tin at the end of this month.

“For the first time in Wellington’s career, we are considering Royal Ascot and that option is still on the table,” the six-year-old’s trainer Richard Gibson told Asian Racing Report.

The G1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes is the race being looked at for the four-time Group 1 winner, who would be the first Hong Kong horse to head to the Royal meeting since 2016 when the same trainer’s top-class sprinter-miler Gold-Fun was runner-up, beaten only a neck, in the same six-furlong sprint.

“He’s a better and younger horse than Gold-Fun who was very unlucky not to win one,” Gibson continued.


Gold-Fun and Cristophe Soumillon ahead of the G1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes of 2016. (Photo by Julian Herbert/Getty Images)

Wellington was crowned Hong Kong’s champion sprinter last season after claiming a second successive win in the Chairman’s Sprint Prize, but since winning the Hong Kong Sprint in December, Gibson’s charge has been surpassed by the rising force that is Lucky Sweynesse.

Since the turn-of-the-year, Lucky Sweynesse has beaten Wellington into second in the G1 Centenary Sprint Cup, third in the G1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup and second in last weekend’s G2 Sprint Cup.  

“Let’s be honest, Lucky Sweynesse is two years younger and half a length better, and has been described by the CEO of the Hong Kong Jockey Club as the world’s best sprinter. So, if that’s the case, we’re pretty darn close to the world’s best,” Gibson said.

The Englishman noted that while the focus for Wellington has until now been Hong Kong’s lucrative domestic prizes, Covid restrictions, now discontinued, had also been a factor in the sprinter not travelling overseas earlier in his career.

And connections have been buoyed by the performances of Hong Kong’s two representatives in the G1 Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan in March: Sight Success and Duke Wai, both rated several pounds inferior to Wellington, finished fourth and fifth in that race, within a length and a half of the winner.

“I thought the performances of the Hong Kong sprinters in Dubai were encouraging,” Gibson added. “They are fourth, fifth and sixth choice in Hong Kong and they were still able to compete at that sort of level internationally.”




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