Alexis Badel may have been a man in demand during his short-term winter stint last season but the Frenchman knows he is back to square one this season as he embarks on his first full season in Hong Kong.
Badel could do no wrong last season, racking up 26 winners in 257 rides, making it his best short-term stint in Hong Kong but has been slightly slower away this term with just two winners next to his name.
Adapting to the pressures that come with riding a full season in Hong Kong, Badel wants to set himself up by making the right decisions early in the piece.
“I think it will take a bit of time to pick up the good rides and build the strong relationships,” he said.
“Every choice you take, a wrong one or a good one will affect you for weeks so I am trying my hardest to make the right decisions.”
Coming at the start of the season, Badel believes it has been a different process selecting horses to ride to what he would normally do.
“I have to say that the biggest difference I saw was when you are booking horses at the beginning of the season, you have no form to speak of,” he said.
“It is a different exercise for me because every time I picked up a good ride, something better came out and beat it. The horses didn’t have the same level of fitness so you can expect some surprises.
“In these circumstances, the exercise of choosing the rides is different to what I was used to when I come in November.
“When you come in November, I watch the replays three to four weeks out and when you ask for a horse, you know it will be fit or close to winning a race.
“When you start from the beginning of the season, they are all at the same level.”
With six meetings under his belt, Badel believes his form can only improve going forward.
Heading to Sha Tin on Sunday, Badel has nine rides, including Douglas Whyte’s Super Wealthy who he won three in a row on last season.
“It gets clearer meeting after meeting, this has been the difference for me this season,” he said.
“When you are here for the whole season, it is a long way to the finish, it is a staying race, not a sprint so you need to think clearly and think about the future. I feel very comfortable with where I am at.
“I quite like my book this week, I think it is a matter of time getting those really strong bookings so I am slowly getting there.
“Even if you did well in short-term contracts here in the past, you start from the very beginning each year, that’s just the rule.”
He also rides the likes of Aurora Pegasus, Fast Most Furious and Wonder Express.