Alexis Badel snared his second Group Three of the season on his way to a treble at Sha Tin on Sunday, with Tourbillon Diamond digging deep to take out the Sa Sa Ladies’ Purse (1,800m).
After a close third behind Panfield in the Group Two Sha Tin Trophy (1,600m) last month, the Danny Shum Chap-shing-trained five-year-old proved too good stepping up in trip after Badel settled him beautifully one out, one back.
“He showed brilliant speed out of the gates so I was almost able to lead the race, so it spread the field and it gave me the opportunity to slide the horse in behind Ka Ying Star,” Badel said of Tourbillon Diamond, who was Group One placed when racing as Eric The Eel in Australia.
“I had a very good race – smooth – and I [gave] the horse one chance to breathe and recover from the early part of the race and then he gave me a great turn of foot and he was very good to the line.
“He’s finally got back to his best form and we know he’s got a good turn of foot, he can break well and today I’m glad we had a smooth run.
“When you give him a chance and let him relax, he can stay a little bit longer and 113 [pounds] in the handicap is a big advantage and I’m lucky I’m light and can pick up rides like this.”
Badel eased Tourbillon Diamond out straightening for home and found himself in a willing battle before holding off Ka Ying Star – who travelled in second – by a short head, with long-time leader Reliable Team close behind in third ahead of Champion’s Way and a luckless Glorious Dragon.
It was Tourbillon Diamond’s second Hong Kong victory and first since he saluted over a mile in Class Two last December, with Shum to decide whether to push onto one of the Group Two features in a fortnight – either the Jockey Club Mile or the Jockey Club Cup (2,000m).
“I’m very happy, he’s a very consistent horse. This time he dropped him in a little bit and got cover and he ran better. I will see how he pulls up and I will talk to the owner. Also I will see whether [Badel] is free, I’ll assess everything and then we will decide what to do,” said the veteran trainer, adding that an appearance at Group One level at December’s Hong Kong International Races might be a bridge too far.
“I think he is OK in Group Two with the handicap but set weights is very difficult, we will see how we go.”
After piloting the Caspar Fownes-trained Super Kin home in the opener, Badel rung up a hat-trick of wins aboard Manfred Man Ka-leung’s Trillion Win in a dead-heat with Joao Moreira and the John Size-trained Fantastic Way in a thrilling Class Two Ahava Handicap (1,200m).
“He’s a very nice horse. He has stepped up to a good level. He’s getting more mature, he’s got good ability and I think he can still step up further,” said Badel, whose day was soured by a two-meeting ban and HK$30,000 fine for careless riding aboard Dr Winning in the second event.
“I thought I was third, I wasn’t sure if I could pass Zac [Purton aboard Lucky More] on the line because obviously it was very tight and I wasn’t sure about Joao.
“I didn’t want to lead the race but the pace wasn’t fast enough to get some cover and be smooth, so I decided to hold my spot on the inside and I tried to stay there as long as I could because he looks around when he hits the front.”
Man now has winners at the past eight meetings and admits he thought a shared result was the best-case scenario for Trillion Win.
“When I saw the photo I just hoped for a dead-heat, I didn’t think I could win. He makes me feel very surprised each race, he keeps improving. The weight compared to last start was five pounds more and the time was faster than his last run, so I’m very satisfied,” he said.
Fantastic Way’s win was the first of a double for Moreira and Size, who also took out the Class Three La Estephe Handicap (1,600m) with progressive four-year-old Master Delight.