As champion apprentice in France and retained second rider to the Aga Khan, Alexis Badel has ridden plenty of champions on the track and on the gallops.
In dual Group One winner Wellington, the Frenchman knows he’s associated with a star and he can’t wait to get back aboard Richard Gibson’s talented sprinter in the Group One Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1,200m) next Sunday.
“He’s clearly one of the top horses I’ve ever ridden in my career,” Badel said. “He’s got that brilliant turn of foot, he can make up a lot of ground in a very short amount of time and that’s what the champions can do.
“He’s one of them, without doubt. No matter how many good horses I’ve ridden, the one thing they all have in common is the turn of foot. No matter what distance they run over, they can change speed very quickly.
“I know him well now and the horse is getting more mature. He’s probably in his best form
ever at the moment and that makes things a lot easier for the jockey.”
Wellington asserted his authority against some up-and-coming sprinters in the Group Two Sprint Cup (1,200m) last time and Badel was excited by that performance.
“It was amazing last time,” Badel said. “We came back to 1,200m against young horses carrying less weight. From a wide barrier I think the pace was set up for the horse and he won brilliantly.”
Badel is experiencing something of a lean spell, with Wellington one of just two winners from the past 12 meetings for the 32-year-old, but he is hopeful of a confidence-boosting win at Sha Tin on Saturday and it’s another Gibson-trained runner that could be his stand-out ride.
Emerging was a maiden winner in Britain before being sold to Hong Kong and he makes his debut in the Class Three Ma Kong Shan Handicap (1,400m) after showing ability in a couple of trials.
“I think he’s a promising horse, very young and progressive,” Badel said. “I liked the way he worked. I would describe him as a little immature at the moment so he will probably need this run to get into his best shape and to improve mentally.
“He certainly has ability and it’s just a matter of time until he performs well in Hong Kong. I expect him to run a good race. If it’s good enough to win, fantastic. If it’s not then I’m sure he’ll improve.”
Badel also jumps aboard All In Mind, who makes his first start for Caspar Fownes in the Class Three D’Aguilar Peak Handicap (1,200m) on the dirt.
“It seems like his trial was very impressive on the dirt under Blake Shinn,” Badel said. “I don’t really know the horse but I’ve been watching his videos and race replays and it feels like he should run a good race based on his trial.”
Badel is reunited with Sun Of Makfi in the Class Four Tai Tam Gap Handicap (1,650m) on the dirt and his mount appears to be working towards a win after runner-up finishes in his past two starts.
“He’s in good form at the moment, he’s got a good draw and we know that he’s going well on the dirt,” Badel said. “He’s not a big horse but he tries hard. With a bit of luck and a smooth race, he should go close.”
Badel has a full book of rides on Saturday, with Lotus Favorites also a chance in the Class Four Violet Hill Handicap (1,800m).
“He’s a nice, improving horse,” Badel said. “He’s not the easiest to ride but he’s getting closer and should hopefully be able to win a race this season. He’s had a recent second place with me and that was very encouraging. I hope he’ll improve and be competitive.”
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