Alexis Badel had no qualms about interrupting Chris So Wai-yin’s dinner he was that keen to secure the ride on Harmony And Rich at Happy Valley on Wednesday night.
As soon as the Frenchman heard Zac Purton, who had ridden the smart four-year-old in his two starts this season, would miss this meeting after being hit with a careless riding ban, he was straight on the phone to So.
The two had combined for a winner earlier that day – Saturday, November 14 – when Badel lifted Super Red Dragon home and the jockey was hoping to strike while the iron was hot.
“He called me straight away – as soon as he found out Zac was suspended,” So said. “I was out for dinner and he asked if he could have the ride – of course I said yes.”
Harmony And Rich, who won two races in the Australian state of New South Wales when known as Enforcement, is yet to break his Hong Kong maiden but he is knocking on the door.
The son of I Am Invincible has placed in four of his six starts – finishing fourth and fifth in the other two – all over 1,000m.
But luck hasn’t really been on his side so far, particularly when it comes to barriers.
In his four previous runs at Happy Valley, he’s drawn gates nine, eight, nine and 11 and has come up with eight again for the Class Three Fleming Handicap (1,000m).
“I was really hoping he got a good draw, his form is there already – he’s ready to win,” said So, who sits in sixth spot on the trainers’ championship with 12 victories. “At Happy Valley, the most important thing is the draw. He just hasn’t had much luck this season.”
His form this campaign suggests a win isn’t far away, with a narrow fourth to Explosive Witness first-up – a horse who has gone on to salute in Class Two – and a second to in-form sprinter We The South last time out.
The trainer believes it is just a matter of time before things fall into place for him.
“The first start this season a few horses killed each other up front and even last time he ran well, but he just needs some luck,” So said. “He performed well last season and this year he should be a lot better.”
On paper, the pace in this race looks to be hot again with We The South, who Harmony And Rich meets five pounds better, Handsome Bo Bo, Moment Of Power, Flying Genius and Wild West Wing all capable of pushing forward.
But perhaps the most intriguing runner is the Caspar Fownes-trained Propice, who makes his Hong Kong debut after winning a Listed race at Flemington in Australia when called Ilovemyself.
He sports the colours made famous by Absolute Champion and Exultant, impressing when second to subsequent winner Harmony N Blessed in a recent barrier trial.
Propice has drawn barrier four and has the services of Karis Teetan, while the Fownes stable is airborne at the moment with 30 winners for the term – 10 more than his nearest rival, Frankie Lor Fu-chuen.
Harmony And Rich is one of six runners on the card for So, who will also saddle up Lunar Zephyr, Happy Time, Goodluck Goodluck, Divine Unicorn and Divine Regulus.