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Richard Gibson: Trainer talks racing in Hong Kong and Sunday at Sha Tin

Exclusive interview with the British trainer in Hong Kong

Since arriving in Hong Kong in 2011, trainer Richard Gibson has made his mark with numerous top-level wins from the likes of Gold-Fun, Akeed Mofeed and Giant Treasure.

Previously, Gibson, 49, had operated in Europe where his leading light was multiple Group 1-winner Doctor Dino, who interestingly is the sire of leading jumpers La Bague Au Roi, Sharjah and Sceau Royal.

With a big day of racing coming up at Sha Tin on Sunday, we spoke to Gibson about life in Hong Kong and his prospects of landing a winner or two.

How has the season being going for your stable so far?

It’s going good for us this season and this weekend is one of the key ones of the whole season. We had the two biggest races of the season in Happy Valley on Wednesday and we had a winner and a close second in the other one.

This weekend we have two horses running in two different Group 1s, so it’s an exciting time and the horses are in top order as well which is great.

Racing at Sha Tin, where Richard has two runners on Super Sunday.

When assessing a horse’s chance to doing well in Hong Kong, what tops your list?

The number one thing horses need to succeed in Hong Kong is to have the adaptability to racing on fast tracks. The surfaces here are very hard compared to anywhere else in the world and they have to be able to handle that.

The other factor horses need is speed and the ability to get into and hold a good position in a race.

Coral columnist Martin Harley highlighted the key role the stalls play in Hong Kong races. Why are they so important to races in Hong Kong?

The stalls are hugely important. It might sound strange to European punters, but any power horse who is able to get out of the stalls half a length or so in front of the horse inside them has a massive advantage out here.

Jockeys are important in this too and that’s why Joao Moreira and Zac Purton are so prolific; they are elite gate-jumpers and have such skill in getting horses out and into position. That’s particularly the case with Moreira, he’s quite incredible at the stalls.

Magic man Joao Moreira, a regular rider in Hong Kong.

And do you then feel domestic jockeys have a big advantage over jockeys from elsewhere?

European jockeys are widely recognised in Hong Kong as being poor gate-jumpers and liable to give away ground at the stalls. Even the greatest jockeys in Europe have very poor records getting out of the gate and into a good position.

Looking at the racing itself, how do you rate Gold Chest’s chances in the Hong Kong Classic Cup (9.15am)?

Gold Chest goes for us in the 1,800 metre race, which is the middle leg of our Triple Crown out here. The next leg is the Hong Kong Derby where we match the best private purchases with the best horses raised here.

He was a good horse in Europe (when running at Naval Intelligence) and he put in a better performance last time. The trip should be more to his liking. He’s a nice horse.

How important is it to get things right with your purchases from abroad?

Hugely. Recruitment is one of the things we’re judged on out here as well as the performances of the horses on the track.

We’ve done well with the likes of Akeed Mofeed, Giant Treasure and Gold-Fun and they are examples of horses we have bought well and done well with too.

Gold Mount goes in the Hong Kong Gold Cup (8.05am). What do you think of the race?

It’s an excellent race. Exultant, who won the Hong Kong Vase in December, takes on Pakistan Star and the two brothers Time Warp and Glorious Forever. It’s rare in racing to have brothers competing against each other at the top level and both having to have to run the same way i.e. aggressively from the front, to succeed otherwise they can’t win.

Our horse has a bit of ground to make up on those but he’s a good horse out here and has been training well for this race.

Exultant gets up to win the Hong Kong Vase

You are taking on the brilliant Beauty Generation with Rattan in the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup (7.30am). Do you think you have any prospects to defeating him?

We’re all up against it taking on Beauty Generation. He’s the best miler in the world and one of the best horses to have ever come out of Hong Kong.

I’m running a 1,400m specialist against him in Rattan and I’m hoping we might be able to catch him out dropping back in trip. It’s a tall order but we’ll give it a shot and see what we can do.

And, finally, you have three other runners on the Sha Tin card. Which of them stands out for you?

We have three other runners on the card and hopefully they can all put in good performances.

Of them, I think Sunshine Universe (5.30am) looks the best of them. He was a good winner at the track last time and I think he has the capability of running well again as he’s unexposed at this trip.

Please Note: The Sha Tin Pools will be available on the International Tote page from 4am on Sunday morning. The first race from Sha Tin is off at 5am.

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