The new year is off to a terrific start for Alexis Badel, who enjoyed his best day as a jockey in Hong Kong at Sha Tin on Friday thanks to Explosive Witness’ victory in the Group Three Bauhinia Sprint Trophy.
The popular Frenchman matched his career-best haul of three winners at a meeting – something he has accomplished five times – while the Caspar Fownes-trained speedster delivered him his second Group success in the jurisdiction.
New Year’s Day has been good to Badel recently – he’s had a winner four seasons in a row now – with Danny Shum Chap-shing’s duo Charity Grace and Namjong Sings putting the icing on the cake.
“I came to the races with a couple of good chances and it’s great to be able to deliver,” Badel said. “It’s brilliant [to win another Group race]. Of course it’s a huge advantage in Group Three handicap races when you can ride very light and still be in good form. I try to take advantage of it.”
Despite being just out of the handicap, the talented Explosive Witness continued his excellent form, notching his fourth victory from his past five starts in the 1,000m contest.
Odds-on favourite Computer Patch led the field up early but was the first horse beaten – eventually finishing last in the five-horse field – with Explosive Witness unleashing a withering finishing burst to edge out Stronger and last season’s winner Big Party.
“I tried to hold him a little bit and see how he could finish and he was able to give a very good turn of foot in the end,” Badel said.
“I could have led easily but I just wanted to give him a chance to show his best turn of foot at the end. I didn’t want to be the first one to press the button.”
While everything worked out well aboard Explosive Witness, things didn’t go quite to plan with Fat Turtle in the other feature on the card, the Group Three Chinese Club Challenge Cup (1,400m).
Badel was trying to ease out on Frankie Lor Fu-chuen’s six-year-old at the top of the straight when he copped a big check as part of the backwash from a bumping duel between Winning Dreamer, Kings Shield and Mighty Giant, which Vincent Ho Chak-yiu was suspended for.
Despite having his momentum halted, Fat Turtle rallied to finish fourth, just three and a half lengths off the winner Champion’s Way.
“He should’ve finished much closer – I was unlucky at the worst moment,” Badel said. “When Zac [Purton on Mighty Giant] moved out three-deep I tried to follow him because I knew he was going to kick hard and the horses in front were going to stop and then there was a big bump from the inside.
“It came suddenly and I’ve lost my chance at that stage. I just hope the horse is not injured but he’s been very strong late.”
Badel is hoping to take his good form into Wednesday night’s meeting at Happy Valley, where he will partner Harmony Victory in the Group Three January Cup – which he won with Simply Brilliant in 2019.
“I think this horse is going well at the moment, he’s a bit tricky because sometimes he can miss the jump,” he said. “But he seems to be in good form, he won a Class One with me last season so the distance will suit him.”