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Richards hopes Wellington can end Lucky Sweynesse’s Hong Kong sprint reign

January 26, 2024 at 3:08:52 AM

Jamie Richards is optimistic Wellington can defy Lucky Sweynesse’s growing domination when the decorated pair clash in the HK$13 million G1 Centenary Sprint Cup (1200m) at Sha Tin on Sunday (28 January).

Jamie Richards is optimistic Wellington can defy Lucky Sweynesse’s growing domination when the decorated pair clash in the HK$13 million G1 Centenary Sprint Cup (1200m) at Sha Tin on Sunday (28 January).

Wellington has had his colours lowered on six successive occasions by Lucky Sweynesse – the world’s highest-rated sprinter – since his 2022 G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) triumph and Richards concedes the seven-year-old faces a familiar challenge this weekend.

Wellington has accumulated two seconds and four thirds behind Lucky Sweynesse with the only interruption to the pattern coming when the gelding travelled to Royal Ascot last June and finished 10th in the G1 Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Stakes (1200m).

The four-time Group 1 winner’s most recent outing yielded a stout third behind Lucky Sweynesse in the 2023 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint before he was sent to Conghua to freshen up.

“Wellington is good. He’s had an easy time since the international sprint. He went up to Conghua, he trialled nicely the other day, everything seems to be in order with him. So, hopefully with a bit of luck, he can be a nice chance,” Richards said.

“When he came back from England, we gave him a bit of a break and he was second-up into the international sprint, he’s now fully fit and ready to go now. He’s been pretty well within himself and I’m happy with the horse.

“Obviously, it will be very hard to beat Lucky Sweynesse but hopefully with a bit of luck we can still be a chance.”

Wellington is making only his third start for Richards, who inherited the gun sprinter from Richard Gibson when the Englishman decided to stop training at the end of the 2022/23 season.

“Wellington has got a few niggles, he’s a seven-year-old but he was very well managed before he got to my stable. You’ve got to take him along a bit quietly – he’s a horse who’s got his own personality and his own quirks but I’m happy with where he’s at and how he’s going,” said Richards, who celebrated a double at Sha Tin on Wednesday night (24 January).

Wellington will face 12 rivals in the Centenary Sprint Cup, including Lucky Sweynesse, Sight Success, Courier Wonder, Lucky With You, Victor The Winner, Duke Wai, Taj Dragon, Super Wealthy, Packing Treadmill, Whizz Kid, Flying Ace and Son Pak Fu, with each runner assigned 126lb.

Lucky Sweynesse won the 2023 Centenary Sprint Cup from barrier eight and will step away under Zac Purton on Sunday from gate five, while Wellington jumps from barrier six under Hugh Bowman.

The Centenary Sprint Cup is the first leg of the Hong Kong Speed Series, which also includes the HK$13 million G1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup (1400m) on 10 March and the HK$22 million G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) on 28 April.

Sunday’s (28 January) 10-race card at Sha Tin starts with the Class 4 Fu Tai Handicap (2000m) at 1pm.

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