Focus Asia

All Too Hard’s sprint king Wellington cements crown as Vinery stallion goes from strength to strength in Hong Kong

Victory for Wellington in Sunday’s Sprint Cup (Gr 2, 1200m) at Sha Tin further cemented the five-year-old’s position as Hong Kong’s top sprinter, an accolade that sees him continue to fly the flag for Vinery Stud’s All Too Hard (Casino Prince), whose burgeoning reputation among Hong Kong buyers gathers apace.

All Too Hard sits seventh in this season’s Hong Kong sire premiership, with seven winners from 13 runners, but it is his headline act Wellington that sees the drive in demand for his progeny which makes the stallion one of the most sought after in Hong Kong.

Wellington, who won his breakthrough Group 1 in April last year with success in the Chairman’s Sprint Prize (Gr 1, 1200m), added the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup (Gr 1, 1400m) in February, defeating veteran campaigners Waikuku (Harbour Watch) and Ka Ying Star (Cityscape), while on Sunday he proved his status as Hong Kong’s best sprinter in seeing off the up-and-coming challenge to the throne of Sight Success (Magnus) and Master Eight (Oamaru Force) and will now bid to retain his Chairman’s Sprint Prize crown in a fortnight.

As the southern hemisphere yearling sales season rolls on to Inglis Easter, which concludes today, Vinery Stud’s Adam White was under no illusions as to the commercial opportunities which are forthcoming with All Too Hard’s success in Hong Kong.

“It’s important to us, he’s a serious sprinter over there. It obviously brings the All Too Hard colts into the Hong Kong market which is an important market for us. All the breeders which have supported us are reaping the rewards with that at the moment,” White told Asia Bloodstock News.

“Having won a Group 1 over there last year and another Group 1 win this year, he’s backed it up with a nice win on the weekend which is fantastic.”

The lucrative consequences of Wellington’s success for All Too Hard is borne out in this year’s yearling sales, which have thus far seen four yearlings by the stallion snapped up by Hong Kong buyers, at an average of $147,500 (his average at yearling sales in Australia this year is $92,333), while private purchase imports have seen a further four horses enter the thoroughbred population in Hong Kong since Wellington’s first Group 1 triumph, with the stallion currently possessing 13 runners in the jurisdiction.

Fuelled in part by buyers from Hong Kong, All Too Hard’s average yearling sale price has increased from $64,784 in 2020.

Those PPs entering Hong Kong over the last year include Bondi Stakes (1600m) runner-up Keefy and Hardtoexplain, a maiden winner at Morphettville in August who, now named Buzzinga, was dominant in winning on his Hong Kong debut for Tony Cruz on the Derby undercard just over two weeks ago.The four-year-old is one of four winners for All Too Hard since the start of March.

Indeed, Hong Kong has been fertile ground for the stallion from the outset, with the extended time afforded to All Too Hard’s offspring seeing them flourish, Wellington a case in point. This through a period where his early crops in Australia were perceived to be more precocious horses than what was in fact the case; his first crop yielding 47 runners for ten winners.

A $70,000 yearling from the 2018 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale, Wellington was withdrawn from his two-year-old auction and imported to Hong Kong in 2019, winning his first three starts in Hong Kong having made his debut as a three-year-old in January 2020.

“In the first couple of crops, his progeny have got such great attitudes, and it led to the trainers thinking they were ready when perhaps they weren’t quite,” White said.

“But after those first couple of crops they were given the time they needed and we are seeing the results of that.

“You hope that they can be successful there because that market is so important for our industry, so we’re always mindful of that, certainly in the early days when a few got picked up yearlings and got a few winners early in his career, as they did with Wellington.”

Another to hit the ground running in Hong Kong for All Too Hard was the stallion’s first winner, Alacri, who won on debut and now has five wins to his name, with his latest coming just last month as a seven-year-old when he won a Class 3 event over 1000 metres at Sha Tin for trainer Ricky Yiu.

And it is that longevity and versatility that further sees All Too Hard’s popularity in Hong Kong proliferate. On the same Sha Tin card on March 12, fellow seven-year-old Shanghai Dragon struck for his fourth win in Hong Kong in the Class 4 race over 1800 metres.

In Australia, his Group 1 winners Behemoth, who won the Memsie Stakes (Gr 1, 1400m) and Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (Gr 1, 1400m) at five, and Forbidden Love have flourished with age.

“If there’s one thing about All Too Hard, you get so many seasons out of them,” White said. “You see Wellington in Hong Kong, Forbidden Love and Behemoth here, they’ve been racing at a high level for a number of seasons now.

“He’s certainly having a great run over there and the buying market that has that Hong Kong interest are pulling the All Too Hards out because of it.”