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Cordyceps Six transferred from Richard Gibson to Francis Lui and withdrawn from Group One

The field for the Group One Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1,200m) is down to eight after the withdrawal of Cordyceps Six following a stable change on Monday.

In a move that was first touted a few months ago, owner Catherina Yim Wai-ling has taken Cordyceps Six off trainer Richard Gibson, electing to shift the four-year-old to the care of Francis Lui Kin-wai.

The move was confirmed on Monday, and with Jockey Club rules stipulating a horse cannot race for 14 days after switching stables, Cordyceps Six will not get his chance in Sunday’s feature sprint.

The son of Star Turn raced 20 times for Gibson for six wins – including a Group Three – and more than HK$11 million in prize money.

The 108-rated Cordyceps Six slots in behind the mighty Golden Sixty, who tackles Sunday’s Group One Champions Mile, as the second-highest-rated galloper in Lui’s stable.

With the Chairman’s Sprint Prize the last elite-level dash of the 2022-23 season, Cordyceps Six’s options for the remainder of the campaign are limited, with Lui likely to set his sights on the gelding’s defence of his Group Three Sha Tin Vase (1,200m) crown on June 4.

While disappointed to lose Cordyceps Six, Gibson will still have a significant presence in the Chairman’s Sprint Prize thanks to four-time Group One winner Wellington, who is shooting for a third consecutive victory in the race.

Wellington was last seen when second to Lucky Sweynesse in the Group Two Sprint Cup (1,200m) on April 9 and Gibson was happy with the six-year-old’s 800m workout under race day jockey Alexis Badel on Monday morning.

“Wellington galloped this morning and it was very encouraging. We’re happy and looking forward to Sunday,” he said.

Lucky Sweynesse also worked over 800m on Monday morning and jockey Zac Purton is pleased with the Manfred Man Ka-leung-trained four-year-old ahead of his crack at a third Group One success.

“He’s going well. He ticks over quite nicely. He just does his job in the mornings. It looks like it’s a suitable race for him and hopefully he can draw well, and more importantly, get out of the gates cleanly,” Purton said.

While Wellington’s biggest competition will again come from Lucky Sweynesse, there is an international flavour to the race thanks to Britain’s Flaming Rib and Japanese raider Aguri.

Trained by Takayuki Yasuda, who won two Hong Kong Sprints with the great Lord Kanaloa, Aguri and his stablemate Danon The Kid – who forms part of a three-pronged Japanese assault on the Group One QE II Cup (2,000m) – are settling in nicely after arriving in Hong Kong on Thursday.

“Both worked with a half-gallop for 800m respectively [on Sunday], so they just had a hand-walk this morning,” said assistant trainer Keiichiro Yasuda.

“Their appetites have come back to normal, and both of them are getting used to the new surroundings here. I think they’re in good form. They’ll work on the all-weather track tomorrow.”

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