Hungry Badel eyes career century in Hong Kong, plots G2 Sprint Cup triumph with Wellington
March 31, 2021, 3:32:44 AM
Alexis Badel enters Wednesday's (31 March) nine-race all-dirt event at Sha Tin just one win short of his 100th career victory in Hong Kong, and the Frenchman is ready to hit the plateau as he trains for a rematch with Righteous Doctrine (115lb) in a hot version of the Class 2 Cuckoo Handicap (1650m).
Badel, who is comfortably rooted in the top five this season, has thrived through March with seven victories, taking his number to 42 as he nears the end of his first full season in Hong Kong.
“I'm pleased with this season – it's going pretty well,” Badel said. “I'm never satisfied; I still want to grow and do more, so I can only be grateful for the help I've received so far. “I hope it persists – it will be amazing to have 100 winners soon.”
The 31-year-mounts old's finish in the finale atop Righteous Theology for trainer Michael Chang, a French import with three Hong Kong wins to his credit, twice on the dirt over 1800m.
“It seems to be a tough race, but when Michael (Chang) asked me to ride the horse, I immediately agreed because he is a really good dirt horse,” Badel said.
The HK$2.2 million feature race pits top-class dirt performers Kings Shield (133lb), Mysterious State (132lb), Majestic Artist (124lb), and Red Desert (122lb) among 10 others, while the rising Hongkong Great (116lb) moves up in grade.
“The horse is getting older, so I just hope he will give it his all tomorrow night; he has the rating, he gets in sun, and he's drawn good, so he shouldn't have any excuses,” Badel said.
Badel boards the six-year-old son of Siyouni for the fourth time since pairing him to a third and second-place finish on the dirt last season.
The Frenchman ran the galloper on dirt about a fortnight ago, coming ninth out of ten competitors.
“I tried him out once, and he was fine,” Badel said. The pair will exit gate two tomorrow evening.
Although Badel's career century in Hong Kong approaches, he has his sights set on a HK$4.5 million G2 Sprint Cup (1200m) victory at Sha Tin on Monday, 5 April, as he and Wellington look to resume their climb through Hong Kong's sprinting ranks.
“I think he is a very good horse, and I always thought he was a top-class horse,” Badel said of the All Too Hard colt.
Last time out, the talented gelding equaled Sacred Kingdom's 2007 Class 1 record over 1200m at Sha Tin, clocking 1m 07.80s to defeat G1 champion Hot King Prawn into eighth, while fellow young guns Computer Patch, Sky Field, and Winning Dreamer filled second to fourth.
“He's always been a great horse, and I couldn't ride him when I left Hong Kong – I'm just glad to be back on him.”
“I rode him on his debut, and he has the change of foot that really good horses have,” Badel said.
The Richard Gibson-trained rider is one of 14 entrants in the competition, which also includes Classique Legend, Sky Field, Winning Dreamer, and Computer Patch.
Karis Teetan, the season's top dirt rider, is looking for more money.
Karis Teetan's ten wins on the Sha Tin dirt this season are unrivaled, and the 'Mauritian Magician' hopes to add to his tally tomorrow evening with eight rides, including the mount on Little Thunder in the Class 5 Tern Handicap (1200m).
The Australian-bred is a one-time winner in Hong Kong, competing over this course and distance in Class 4 last season, but has since fallen to the bottom grade with three successive placings this year.
“I don't think it's a particularly strong race, and I thought his run last week at the Valley looked really positive – I think he'll have a chance,” Teetan said.
After finishing third over 1000m at Happy Valley last Wednesday, the Hussonet gelding goes on a seven-day layoff (24 March).
“I thought his run last week was fine – he is on the fast back up so I'm sure the horse must be feeling well for Tony (Millard) to back him up but he's won on the dirt before and he manages it well,” the Mauritian said.
With six victories this season, Joao Moreira and Jerry Chau are tied for second on the dirt, while Zac Purton has five.
Teetan will also compete in the Level 3 Mesia Handicap (1200m) for trainer Jimmy Ting. The chestnut was a near-winner two starts back before finishing third last time out.
“I think he enjoys running on the dirt – he trialed well on it, so it was time to run him on the surface, and he seems to be loving it right now,” Teetan said.
“I think the horse is in very good shape; he's keeping his condition, and with the fence, I think we'll have a nice run,” he said.
Teetan will get the leg up on Holy Heart (114lb) for trainer Francis Lui in the night's top class affair, the Class 2 Cuckoo handicap (1650m), in a bid to overtake a host of Hong Kong's supreme dirt talents.
“He comes in with a nice little weight, which will support him because it's a long race with Elusive State, and you have to admire him when he gets to the dirt, but I think he can finish strongly with the light weight and a good pace,” Teetan said.
In the finale, champion jockey Zac Purton will ride Glorious Artist for trainer Frankie Lor, bypassing stablemate Kings Shield, whom he won earlier this season.
“I just feel that Kings Shield has lost his way a little bit – I know it's difficult to tell how he's doing on the grass because he's a totally different horse on the dirt, but the last time I rode him on the dirt, his result was not what it should have been, and I keep it in the back of my mind.
“I also believe there would be some friction in this race, some competition for the lead, so I choose to ride a horse that is better weighted and can sit off on a high speed,” Purton said.
Glorious Artist will be 9lb lighter than Kings Shield and will leave from Gate 9. The Irish-bred Zoffany gelding typically sits at the front, while Kings Shield's three Hong Kong victories have all come from the lead.
“He still has the class to win the race, so hopefully I will just stay in the right place and get the job done,” Purton said.
Glorious Artist is a two-time winner this term and has been commuting to and from Conghua since November.
“He trialed well at Conghua; he can come from behind, but if there is a fast pace, it would be great if he could finish off for prize money or win,” Lor said.
Earlier on the bill, Purton will look to extend his flawless record aboard Coolceleb to three wins for trainer Benno Yung in the third section of the Class 4 Robin Handicap (1200m), while in the second section of the Class 4 Robin Handicap (1200m), he will partner debutant Sunny Delight for trainer Danny Shum.
Wednesday's (March 31) nine-race all-dirt card at Sha Tin gets underway at 6.45 p.m. with the Class 5 Tern Handicap (1200m).