Horse Racing
Alexis Badel’s on the board and hunting more; Russian Emperor trials

By Declan Schuster
26/09/2023 12:51

Alexis Badel celebrates feature race success aboard Healthy Happy.
Alexis Badel celebrates feature race success aboard Healthy Happy.

Alexis Badel is off the mark for the new season and the flying Frenchman is chasing further momentum at Happy Valley on Wednesday night (27 September).

Winless across the term’s first four fixtures, Badel collected a double on Sunday (24 September) at Sha Tin, kicking off his pair with victory in the G3 Celebration Cup Handicap (1400m) aboard Healthy Happy before Happy Together sauntered to impressive success later on the card. Both victories came for trainer Frankie Lor.

“I’m very pleased that I won the Group 3 on Healthy Happy. The horse has been great to me and it’s just a matter of keep trying and try to find more momentum, staying away from injuries, suspensions and hopefully the ball starts to roll,” Badel said.

The winner of 202 races in Hong Kong, Badel endured a campaign of mixed returns in 2022/23, enduring injuries, disappointment and interruptions before emerging to claim the city’s most prestigious crown – the 2023 BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m).

“Everything is reset, you start with an unknown regarding the horses and everyone. It’s just about building nice momentum. Whatever the score is at the end of the season, if you can achieve winning the major races – where it’s so difficult like it is in Hong Kong – I think you can’t complain, it’s already a good achievement,” Badel said.

Medic Elite, Sunny Star, Oversubscribed, Round The Globe and A Americ Te Specso are Badel’s handful of rides tomorrow night at the city circuit.

Sunny Star scores in Class 2 at Happy Valley.

The 33-year-old has three wins aboard Sunny Star and reunites with the American-bred son of Flatter in the evening’s feature, the Class 3 HKEX Cup Handicap (1800m).

“He’s had a run this season, hopefully his fitness will improve. I haven’t sat on him for a while, but as far as I’m concerned the course and distance looks ideal for him,” Badel said.

Sunny Star steps away from gate eight for trainer Caspar Fownes, assigned 128lb against Natural Storm (135lb), Beautyverse (132lb), S J Tourbillon (126lb), Turin Mascot (125lb), Perfect Team (123lb), Majestic Victory (116lb) and Pegasus General (115lb).

Badel also partners Oversubscribed as David Hall’s speedster contests the Class 4 Melbourne Cup Tour Handicap (1200m) from barrier nine.

“He ran very well last start, he showed us that he keeps trying. Hopefully I can put him in the right spot and I’m sure he’ll hit the line strongly. 

“He likes to chase, you don’t have to hold him back but he’s not going to be involved in any pace, so he certainly finishes off races very well,” Badel said.

Russian Emperor stretches out at Sha Tin.
Russian Emperor stretches out at Sha Tin.

Earlier this morning (Tuesday, 26 September) at Sha Tin, Russian Emperor worked smoothly through his turf barrier trial under jockey Hugh Bowman for trainer Douglas Whyte.

“He was there to just have a hit-out, he’s a bit rusty and he’s getting back fitness-wise and mentally,” Whyte said.

The outstanding stayer of recent seasons returns next month in the G2 Sha Tin Trophy Handicap (1600m) on 15 October. He crossed the line at the tail of the field this morning.

“I’m very happy with his condition. He’s summered well, he’s moving nicely and those are probably the most important things with a horse who is getting on in age,” Whyte said.

Wednesday’s (27 September) nine-race fixture at Happy Valley kicks off at 6.45pm with the first section of the Class 5 Swallow Handicap (1650m).