French jockey Alexis Badel continued his astonishing record of landing long-shot winners with a double that would have returned more than $9,000 for a $10 all-up outlay at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Badel’s 15 winners during his two stints at Sha Tin have come at an average odds of 22-1 and the lightweight rider set a new personal high when Chater Thunder paid $608 for a minimum $10 bet.
Badel then completed his brace when blinkers sparked Radiant Steed to a big win that returned $151 for each $10 invested.
“I always go out there and be positive,” Badel said, with all but two of his eight winners during this winter stint starting double-figure odds.
“The things about racing here is that it is always close, so I always feel like I have a chance. I was more confident than the odds showed today. Anything can happen in Hong Kong.”
Badel’s current tenure started slow – he rode just two winners in the first month – but he believes that a more concerted effort to spend time watching replays has resulted in a turnaround.
“The day before a raceday I am watching at least 100 replays, it’s very important,” he said. “Of course, I watch replays in France, but in Hong Kong it is a question of detail. It doesn’t guarantee you will be successful but if you don’t watch them then you know that everybody else is.
“Every jockey is doing this, so I have to and I take it very seriously. It also wasn’t easy to start this time as I didn’t have the club agent and I had to do the bookings myself. I am feeling more confident more and it’s good to be part of the scene.”
Jockey Douglas Whyte told trainer David Ferraris he felt Chater Thunder would appreciate a step up to 1,650m on the dirt after riding the four-year-old on the surface last start but it was Badel who reaped the benefits when Whyte chose to ride rival Grand Harbour.
“The horse gave me a fantastic feeling when I rode him at trackwork during the week and I really liked the step up in distance for him,” Badel said.
Badel had ridden Radiant Steed first-up this season but was presented with a “different horse” when he was legged aboard by trainer Richard Gibson.
“That’s what Richard told me, that he is a different horse with blinkers on, and he was right,” Badel said.