As star jockeys Pierre-Charles Boudot and Mickael Barzalona jet into Hong Kong for international week, the three French riders already at Sha Tin issued a reminder to their compatriots about the challenge in front of them as they each picked up wins on Sunday.

It’s the first time the French connection of Alexis Badel, Antoine Hamelin and Tony Piccone have all saluted at the same meeting and it couldn’t have been more timely.

Boudot and Barzalona will compete against Badel in the International Jockeys’ Championship at Happy Valley on Wednesday while all five – plus Christophe Soumillon, who is Belgian but does most of his riding in France – will be in action at Sha Tin during the Hong Kong International Races on Sunday.

“We’ve fought for many years in France and now we fight in Hong Kong – it’s fun,” said Hamelin, who took out the opening race on Crown Avenue to give him his seventh victory of the term, to go with 31 placings.

“I’m very happy to get another winner, I’ve been very close – a lot of seconds – so it’s nice get there again.”

Piccone snared the second win of his campaign when Turf Brilliant claimed the fourth race while Badel went back-to-back on John Size’s smart sprinter Ping Hai Bravo in the Class Three Cameron Handicap (1,000m).

“It’s good because Antoine and Tony are both great jockeys and they deserve it,” said Badel, who now has 19 winners for the season.

“Obviously I was very happy to win for Mr Size on Ping Hai Bravo, he’s a lovely ride to pick up.”

For the second time in less than a month, Ping Hai Bravo unleashed a devastating finishing burst to rain on the parade of odds-on favourite Joyful Fortune.

After a dominant debut victory at the end of last season, David Hall’s talented young sprinter has failed to live up to the hype in both runs this campaign.

Alfred Chan snares much-needed winner at Sha Tin: ‘I keep asking myself whether I’m good enough’

With apprentice Jerry Chau Chun-lok aboard, Joyful Fortune dropped out badly after coming under pressure as a $1.60 favourite, eventually finishing 11th.

Hall could not offer stewards any explanation for the poor performance, saying the horse had done well since his first-up run and he expected him to run well.

But that didn’t take the shine off Ping Hai Bravo’s effort, who might have found his niche with two wins from two starts down the Sha Tin straight.

“He seems to be very happy at 1,000m,” Badel said. “He’s such a big horse, he’s got a lovely action and when he starts to get rolling, he’s unstoppable. Even so far back I was confident – I knew he was going to give me something.”

The win ensures the 31-year-old heads into Wednesday night’s contest full of confidence.

Even though he is proudly French, Badel can’t wait to fly the Bauhinia flag as he takes on some of his old foes – even if he won’t be able to socialise with Boudot and Barzalona, who will be isolated as part of the “racing bubble”.

“I’m very keen about the IJC – it’s a fantastic surprise to be able to represent Hong Kong, so I’m looking forward to it,” said Badel, who is also booked to ride Perfect Match (Sprint) and Mighty Giant (Mile) in the Group Ones on December 13.

“It will be nice to have the French atmosphere I know so well from home.”