Alexis Badel continued his hot feature-race run with victory aboard Tourbillon Diamond in the Group Three Premier Plate (1,800m) at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Badel, who is in the top five in the jockeys’ championship, has won eight of Hong Kong’s 31 Group races this season and has formed solid partnerships with star sprinter Wellington and Danny Shum Chap-shing’s Tourbillon Diamond.
The Frenchman may have faced a difficult choice going into the race as he had ridden favourite Turin Redsun in his past four races but the decision to stay loyal to Tourbillon Diamond paid handsome dividends when he came from the rear of the field to beat his old partner by a short-head.
This victory was Tourbillon Diamond’s second Group win of the season after victory in the Sa Sa Ladies’ Purse under Badel in November and the rider was full of praise for the horse’s performance under a heavy weight.
“Obviously the horse is very talented,” Badel said. “He’s very brave, he’s got a good heart and he’s a fantastic racehorse. He deserved a win like that. Carrying 132 [pounds] is very impressive.
“He began just OK, he can be a lot quicker away sometimes, so I based my tactic on the way he jumped and I thought the pace was good enough to settle in midfield.
“Obviously I decided to make my move a bit earlier, before the 600m, because I wanted to improve my position, but I didn’t want to be pushed out in a brutal way.
“I anticipated a little bit and improved my position very quickly without too much effort and I think that was the key.”
Badel has been delighted to get the mounts on some of Hong Kong’s better horses this season and has showed on plenty of occasions that he has the temperament to cope well with the added pressure of rides at the elite level.
“Yes, it’s great,” Badel said. “Obviously I’ve picked some good horses with a light weight and now today was a good occasion to prove that 132 [pounds] was not an issue.
“I’ve been very lucky with this horse and I’m very grateful for the support from Danny and also the owners. They have given me a lot of confidence.”
Shum was pleased with Badel’s ride and full of praise for Tourbillon Diamond, but he revealed he has plans to keep him away from his stable star come the Hong Kong International Races at the end of the year.
“He’s made over HK$17 million in prize money,” Shum said. “He always tries his best, he’s amazing.
“He likes Alexis and Alexis likes him as well. I won’t run him over 2,000m [in the Hong Kong Cup] and will probably go 2,400m [in the Hong Kong Vase] because I plan to run Romantic Warrior over 2,000m and he can’t beat him.”
It was a good afternoon for the trainer, who finished the final Group-race card of 2021-22 on a high when Secret Vision took out the Class Three Amethyst Handicap (1,600m).
Well backed before the off into $4.7, the four-year-old had run well to finish third in his past two starts and was given a good waiting ride by Harry Bentley.