Alexis Badel continued his excellent Happy Valley form on Sunday, bookending the annual daytime meeting with Virtus Star and Golden Dash.
The talented Frenchman has ridden winners at each of the past six cards at the iconic city circuit and now boasts 11 victories for the term to put him in sixth place in the jockeys’ championship.
With Joao Moreira, Matthew Chadwick and apprentice Jerry Chau Chun-lok suspended, Badel narrowed his focus to ensure he had a good book for the meeting.
“I had a strong card before the races – I really worked hard on it to find the good rides and I’ve had great support,” he said. “I’m really glad I was able to deliver.”
After four short-term stints in Hong Kong, Badel is enjoying his first season as a full-time rider and has been ticking along nicely.
“The competition is very difficult, it’s very tough here. Everybody knows it is very competitive so you don’t have to make many mistakes to miss out on winners,” he said. “I’m just working hard, trying to improve, staying positive and being patient.”
The Danny Shum Chap-shing-trained Golden Dash secured his first Class Two victory in the feature of the day, the Fenwick Handicap (1,200m).
Despite being trapped three-wide throughout, the six-year-old still had something left in the tank for the finish, edging out Shining Gem with favourite Highland Fortune back in third.
“He’s a nice horse. He’s one I was looking for with a light weight in this type of race,” Badel said. “He doesn’t like being stuck between horses – he probably gives his best when he’s a bit wide so that happened and he was able to hit the line strongly.”
The son of Snitzel has always shown ability but has battled through a host of issues, which have limited him to just 16 starts across four seasons.
But his trainer thinks there is still more in store if he can keep him healthy.
“He ran a good race, I think he’ll only go up five points, so if he stays on song, I think he can win again,” Shum said. “This is his best course and distance.
“We just need to be careful with him, he’d bled once and has had a suspensory injury, so giving him a little time between runs is probably better. I have to look after him.”
The Frankie Lor Fu-chuen-trained Virtus Star made it back-to-back wins when he took out the opening event, the Class Five O’Brien Handicap (1,650m).
Badel was aboard for his maiden win last month and he looks to have gone on with it, rallying strongly down the middle of the track to beat Treasure Chest and Bulb Elite.
“He has improved a lot since the first time I rode him,” Badel said. “He’s probably more confident and his form is good.”