Horse Racing
Voyage Bubble ticks over for BOCHK Private Wealth Jockey Club Mile return

By Declan Schuster
31/10/2023 13:40

Voyage Bubble will be back at the races in November.
Voyage Bubble will be back at the races in November.

Voyage Bubble’s long-awaited return to racing is looming large and jockey Alexis Badel is satisfied with the Deep Field gelding’s progression ahead of his HK$5.35 million G2 BOCHK Private Wealth Jockey Club Mile (1600m) test on 19 November at Sha Tin.

Requiring left knee surgery last May, Voyage Bubble hasn’t raced since he finished fourth behind Golden Sixty in April’s G1 FWD Champions Mile (1600m), which came one run after his 45/1 surprise victory in the BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) last March.

Voyage Bubble also won last season’s Hong Kong Classic Mile (1600m), the first leg of the Four-Year-Old Classic Series. He boasts five wins from 12 starts and HK$26.43 million in earnings for trainer Ricky Yiu as one of last season’s most improved talents.

He stepped out for a dirt trial in preparation this morning (Tuesday, 31 October) at Sha Tin over 1200m under Badel, while Golden Sixty, Beauty Eternal and Tuchel featured in the same hit-out.  

“He felt great. Action-wise he was fine and he showed that he felt comfortable, I think the trial was as good as it can possibly be – I was very pleased,” Badel said.

Voyage Bubble trials in readiness for his return.

Voyage Bubble stretched out just behind Beauty Eternal and Golden Sixty. Beauty Eternal crossed the line first in 1m 10.42s, while Golden Sixty was second.  

“He (Voyage Bubble) was as good as you could really expect. The horse jumped good, he showed good speed, he moved well and he showed that he was really happy to try and he hit the line strong enough,” Badel said.

Jockey Vincent Ho was all smiles following Golden Sixty’s second barrier trial leading up to his return as he aims to build on his record HK$147.93 million earnings.

“He went well, he was happy to be out there today. He was sharp out of the gates, he travelled very nicely and in the last 200 (metres) I asked him to build up a little bit, to at least work a bit – he can be a bit lazy in the morning.

“We just need to make sure he worked enough to go through the line and get his fitness up – I’m happy and pleased with his progress at the moment. He showed much improvement from his last trial,” Ho said.

Golden Sixty – Hong Kong’s current champion – has won nine Group 1 races and is a 25-time winner from 29 starts.

Golden Sixty (outside) hits the line at Sha Tin this morning.
Golden Sixty (outside) hits the line at Sha Tin this morning.

“Today he was much better. First trial he was a bit fat, today he was a lot better and he came back easy, nice and fresh. It was a good stretch out for him, which we needed him to do.

“It’s not easy to go straight to the (Hong Kong) International Races but it’s also not easy to go straight to the Group 2 because once he’s out there he tries very hard to win. We don’t want him to overdo it in November and make himself tired for December,” Ho said.

The Medaglia d’Oro gelding’s ultimate goal this season is a third G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (1600m) triumph for trainer Francis Lui and owner Stanley Chan.

Looking to more immediate targets, Badel will chase a fourth win aboard the Caspar Fownes-trained Kokushi Musou in the third section of the Class 4 Hing Wah Handicap (1200m) on Wednesday night (1 November) at Happy Valley.

“He’s a course and distance specialist. With top weight, the draw (one) will really help his chances to save ground and hopefully be in the right spot,” Badel said.

Badel takes eight rides tomorrow night including Legion Of Merit, who returns second-up in the Class 4 Fat Tseung Handicap (1650m) for trainer Chris So.

“I was lucky with the draw (one). I think it’s a pretty good setup for the horse as well, his first run was pretty good,” Badel said.

The Frenchman will partner Money Catcher in Sunday’s (5 November) HK$4.2 million G3 Sa Sa Ladies’ Purse Handicap (1800m) at Sha Tin. 

“He carries a bit of weight but the race seems to be open, I would say, he’s a quality horse. It’s just not the same weight to when he won last year, he was the bottom weight (115lb),” Badel said.

The New Zealand-bred won last year’s renewal for trainer Frankie Lor.

Wednesday’s (1 November) nine-race fixture at Happy Valley kicks off at 6.40pm with the Class 5 Bedford Handicap (1000m).