Alexis Badel wasted no time affirming his decision to make a full-time move to Hong Kong, taking out the Class One HKSAR Chief Executive’s Cup (1,200m) with Danny Shum Chap-shing’s Perfect Match.
The popular Frenchman showed he was a natural fit in four short-term stints in the jurisdiction – winning 57 races – and he looked right at home as he took out the feature on the opening day of the season at Sha Tin.
In this city, the best way to put your name up in lights is by winning big races, so it bodes well for Badel’s future.
“It’s a perfect start,” said Badel, who had eight rides for the day and also finished second on Super Red Dragon in the third race.
“Danny has been great, giving me the opportunity to win on this horse last season and he called me quite early to book the ride and I need to thank him for that.
“The horse gave me a fantastic feeling in the trial and he proved it – he was strong through the line.
“I just have to stay humble because it is a long season. I will try to keep doing the right things and be kind and positive.”
While it was the ideal result, the race itself didn’t go exactly to plan as Perfect Match ($8) was trapped three-wide without cover throughout.
Despite covering extra ground, the talented five-year-old found an extra gear in the straight, coming away to win by a length and a half, with Jolly Banner ($39) and Victoriam ($14) filling the placings. The $3.40 favourite Computer Patch was fourth.
“I couldn’t find the fence and I was unable to challenge Amazing Star but the horse relaxed and I gave him a chance and he responded really well,” said Badel, who is now three-from-three aboard the son of Not A Single Doubt.
Perfect Match has now improved his record to eight wins from 16 starts and will now boast a rating of around 110, meaning Shum will be forced to aim higher.
“He was very good today,” the trainer said. “I plan on running him in the [Group Two] Jockey Club Sprint in November and then hopefully target the [Group One] Hong Kong Sprint.”
Speaking of exceptional records, Shum is building an imposing one in the HKSAR Chief Executive’s Cup – winning four of the past five with Perfect Match following in the footsteps of Regency Legend (2019), Season’s Bloom (2017) and Lucky Year (2016).
The 60-year-old has a habit of getting his horses up and running early and it continues to pay dividends.
“It’s hard to say why I’ve won this race so many times,” Shum said. “I just try to get my horses fit and firing early. Fingers crossed it continues.”