Horse Racing
Alexis Badel hopes for a Ping Hai Galaxy encore

By Leo Schlink
15/12/2023 11:47

Ping Hai Galaxy is chasing successive Sha Tin wins.
Ping Hai Galaxy is chasing successive Sha Tin wins.

With five winners from the past four Sha Tin meetings, Alexis Badel hopes Ping Hai Galaxy can extend the Frenchman’s productive streak when the veteran gelding contests the Class 2 Lukfook Jewellery Cup Handicap (1000m) at Sha Tin on Sunday (17 December).

One of Hong Kong’s fastest horses, Ping Hai Galaxy led throughout last start to land the Class 2 The Peninsula Golden Jubilee Challenge Cup Handicap (1200m) on Sha Tin’s dirt course on 3 December, defeating Flying Ace by a short head.

“He was great last time, that was a very good win,” Badel said. “He’s always been a very fast horse out of the gate, great early speed. He’s a lovely horse, strong body type, so I’m hoping he can carry on this way.

“I think he has the ability to do well over 1000 metres. It’s more about having the race that suits him – he likes to run free, he likes to do his own pace so if you can get him into a nice rhythm, I think he’s going to run well.”

Trained by John Size, Ping Hai Galaxy carried 126lb last start, but rises to 132lb when he faces Kurpany (135lb), Whizz Kid (128lb), We Are Hero (125lb), Astrologer (124lb), Carroll Street (120lb), Invincible Sage (120lb), Dream Winner (118lb), Wonder Kit (116lb) and Ima Single Man (115lb) in this weekend’s speed contest.

Invincible Sage has struck form with a vengeance with two wins in a row.
Invincible Sage has struck form with a vengeance with two wins in a row.

With a pair of Class 3 victories, David Hall’s Invincible Sage rises to Class 2 for the first time and will jump from barrier seven under six-time Hong Kong champion jockey Zac Purton.

“He seems fine, and we’ll find out how he handles Class 2 at the weekend,” Hall said. “He’s two from two, he’s ready, and the programme is there for him to run in that race. It’s a straight track 1000m again so let’s see what he’s made of.

“The Class 3 races are a bit shallow at the moment, but the Class 2 contests are a bigger hurdle to jump. He’s done what he’s had to do and he’s ready to go back to the races, so it’s good that he’s got this Class 2 1000 (metres) to do it.”

Hall will also saddle Ka Ying Victory in the Class 3 Lukfook Jewellery Beloved Collection Handicap (1200m) when the talented gelding clashes with Wunderbar, who is also unbeaten after two starts.

“His (Ka Ying Victory’s) trials have been good enough and he’s ready to go back to the races. He’s a three-year-old running in Class 3 and coming out of Griffin form, so it can be a bit questionable,” Hall said. “It looks like a strong race, so it will be interesting to see what he can do.”

Ka Ying Victory will be partnered by Purton, while Size-trained Wunderbar will be ridden by James McDonald.

“He (Wunderbar) is very promising, he gave me a beautiful feel. He feels like he’s very untapped and what he’s done so far, he just feels like he’s scratching the surface. He’s doing everything with plenty in hand – he’s got a bit up his sleeve from what he’s been doing,” McDonald said.

“This is a big step up, being six furlongs for the first time and facing some very tough, competitive horses but he’s got good potential and he’s very well educated.”

Keagan De Melo has 10 wins for the season.
Keagan De Melo has 10 wins for the season.

Unbeaten in two starts on Sha Tin’s dirt surface, Smokey Bear will attempt to provide Michael Chang with his stable’s sixth win of the season when he contests the Class 3 Lukfook Jewellery Goldstyle Handicap (1200m) under Keagan De Melo.

“He found a good field last time and he put them to bed quite easily, he’s on the improve on the dirt and you just don’t know how good he is yet. Maybe he can improve a little bit more – which I think he would have to – and we can see another good run,” the South African said.

“Hopefully he can make the step up in class. His work has been pretty good going into the race.”

Sunday’s (17 December) 10-race Sha Tin card starts with the Class 5 Lukfook Jewellery Hexicon Handicap (1400m) at 1pm.