Most within the Hong Kong racing fraternity were running on fumes at the end of last season and Alexis Badel was no different, with the Frenchman missing his family and – like everyone else – in desperate need of a break.
Fast forward a couple of months and the 32-year-old has his bounce back after a summer with family in France and having his wife Eva, who is due to give birth in four weeks, and daughter Rebecca back in Hong Kong with him.
“It was a much-needed break, very very important. Eva left Hong Kong early because of the restrictions, so she went back to France with our daughter Rebecca to see her family and Rebecca picked up a bit of French, so that was great,” Badel said.
Badel had five rides while in France “for fun” and while there were no winners, the chance to again team up with his mum Myriam Bollack-Badel was a clear highlight.
“It was funny because the horse went up in class and she was looking for a lightweight jockey so I was very happy to pick up the ride,” he said.
“It was great, unfortunately not a winner, but it was good to ride for her and catch up with my friends, family and colleagues in France. They’re a big part of my life.
“It’s a long season in Hong Kong and not seeing our families for two and a half years because of the restrictions was really tough.”
Onto more serious racetrack business and Badel kicks off his 2022-23 campaign with 10 rides at Sha Tin on Sunday, teaming up with one of his most reliable partners Trillion Win in the Class One HKSAR Chief Executive’s Cup (1,200m).
Badel has ridden Manfred Man Ka-leung’s six-year-old in his past 14 starts for three Class Two wins – which came in succession early last season – and a number of other strong showings.
“He’s a great horse, he’s got great ability. He’s got gate speed, he tries hard and I think he’s going to run very well,” Badel said.
Badel has also tasted success with John Size’s Power Koepp, who he rides in the Class Three Lantau Peak Handicap (1,200m).
Power Koepp won twice last term, finishing the campaign with a win and a second under Badel, and the Frenchman feels the four-year-old can improve his 78 rating this preparation.
“He’s getting more mature, more relaxed and more tractable and I’d like to think this season he is going to be able to win again,” he said.
“Whether it’s on Sunday I don’t know, after a break you can’t guarantee the horses are 100 per cent fit until they run, but he is certainly a horse with ability.”
Badel is also looking forward to riding Beauty Tycoon for Size, while Jumbo Fortune and Lucky Banner are also among his rides.