Wellington catches the eye as LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint campaign beckons
Anticipated to return in Sunday week’s (23 October) HK$5 million G2 Premier Bowl Handicap (1200m) at Sha Tin, Wellington limbered up with an impressive barrier trial under Alexis Badel over 1200m on dirt this morning (Tuesday, 11 October).
“Yes, it was (very impressive). I came from far behind and the horse hit the line very strongly, he was very concentrated and he ran a very good trial,” Badel said.
Roughly 10 lengths off the leading horse upon turning for home, Wellington let rip late under the Frenchman, picking off rivals one-by-one this morning to cross the line in second position behind Reve Parisien who clocked 1m 09.93s for the effort.
Ahead of this morning’s trial, Wellington was full of himself – buzzing in Sha Tin’s sand ring as Badel linked with last season’s Hong Kong Champion Sprinter (2021/22).
“He’s always a bit funny when he’s fresh at the beginning of the season – I’m always very cautious because he can spin around very quickly,” Badel said.
Chasing victory in the HK$24 million G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m), Wellington closed out last campaign with setbacks in his wake and victory in this year’s G1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup (1400m), G2 Sprint Cup (1200m) and G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m), respectively.
“It’s hard to say (if he has shown more improvement) because he has a lot of personality, he’s not giving everything in the mornings so it’s hard to judge but he was very impressive last season during his races, so hopefully he can be at least as good as he was last season,” Badel said.
This weekend, Badel will reunite with Tourbillon Diamond in the HK$5 million G2 Oriental Watch Sha Tin Trophy Handicap (1600m).
Badel steered the 119-rater to a pair of Group 3 victories last season in the G3 Sa Sa Ladies’ Purse Handicap (1800m) and G3 Premier Plate Handicap (1800m).
“He’s been a great horse to me, I mean, he constantly pushes the limit. Every time we think that he has done his best he just keeps trying very hard, he’s such a genuine and honest horse, I think he should try very hard again,” Badel said.
Tourbillon Diamond is trained by Danny Shum and has banked HK$18.58 million for his connections.
“He’s a brilliant racehorse, he tries very hard. I think the race will be difficult but I know I can count on him,” Badel said.
Returning from a two-meeting suspension on Wednesday night (12 October) at Happy Valley, Badel takes eight rides out of a possible nine including Everyone’s Delight in the Class 2 Man Yiu Handicap (1650m).
“He used to run well fresh, I think, and he likes the track. He has a good draw and his trials have seemed good enough – I think he’s going to run a decent race,” Badel said.
Everyone’s Delight is one of two from trainer Frankie Lor in the race, who also saddles Fa Fa.
“He (Fa Fa) had his first start, finishing third and after that run he has improved. I think he has a very good chance (tomorrow night),” Lor said. “Usually after his first-up run he improves.”
Everyone’s Delight has drawn gate one and is a strong chance to take up the running tomorrow night.
Later on the card, Badel teams with the John Size-trained Touch Faith in the second section of the Class 4 Finance Street Handicap (1200m).
“He won quite well in Class 5 and he stepped up to Class 4 at the end of last season and he had a tough run but the horse was comfortable and he hit the line quite strongly, so I’m confident he should be improving enough to run a good race,” Badel said.
Touch Faith runs in the same silks as 2018 Hong Kong Classic Mile (1600m) winner Nothingilikemore for the Happy Corner Syndicate.
The Outreach galloper was caught wide upon turning for home last start but fought bravely to grab second behind Sugar Sugar who also returns first-up tomorrow night.
“I think so (to being competitive), it was a tough run last time and he (Touch Faith) did a good job, so hopefully he can repeat that performance with a smoother and easier run for him,” Badel said.
Wednesday’s (12 October) nine-race fixture at Happy Valley kicks off at 6.45pm with the second section of the Class 5 Pottinger Handicap (1000m).
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