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Happy Together steps up for Group 3 January Cup

January 10, 2024 at 3:37:49 AM

Alexis Badel is hoping to time it right aboard the rapidly rising Happy Together in Wednesday night’s (10 January) HK$4.2 million G3 January Cup Handicap (1800m).

Alexis Badel is hoping to time it right aboard the rapidly rising Happy Together in Wednesday night’s (10 January) HK$4.2 million G3 January Cup Handicap (1800m).

Amid a sparkling season with three wins from four starts, Happy Together continues to up the ante, enough so to warrant his shot at Happy Valley’s sole Group race with Badel confident he has found the key to unlocking even more success for the five-year-old.

“I learnt from my mistake two starts ago at Sha Tin. You need to preserve his turn of foot and you have to be a bit more patient – I didn’t make the same mistake twice and it was a good win last start,” Badel said. “He’s doing very well and he keeps improving.”

Trained by Frankie Lor, Happy Together will carry 115lb tomorrow. He most recently won a quality Class 2 at Happy Valley last month – his only race at the city circuit.

“To his credit, he has a good turn of foot. He can quicken well and he trialled well at Happy Valley when he was younger, so I was confident he was going to run a good race last time, as long as he could relax for me,” Badel said.

Happy Together tackles the Valley’s 1800m trip for the first time in the January Cup, while five-year-old’s boast a strong record with 13 wins in the race since it was first staged in 1999, including five out of the last six renewals.

“I’d prefer a good tempo – it’s easier for me. There’s no doubt he’s a nice horse and he’s in good form carrying no weight,” Badel said.

Happy Together meets Encountered (135lb), Money Catcher (134lb), Sword Point (126lb), Telecom Fighters (124lb), Tourbillon Diamond (118lb), Champion Dragon (117lb), Helene Feeling (115lb), Nimble Nimbus (115lb), Rising From Ashes (115lb), La City Blanche (115lb) and Berlin Tango (115lb) in the January Cup.

Lor and Badel combined to win the 2019 running with Simply Brilliant, who carried 114lb. Happy Together is one of three runners in the race for Lor, who also saddles Money Catcher and Sword Point.

“He’s good but this time he’ll carry 134 pounds,” Lor said of Money Catcher, who won the 2023 January Cup.

Sword Point was Group 2-placed two runs ago and pairs with Hugh Bowman this week.

“He’s good, I put Hugh Bowman on for last week’s gallop – he was happy,” Lor said.

La City Blanche contests his second Group 3 in Hong Kong in the January Cup. He finished third in November’s HK$4.2 million G3 Sa Sa Ladies’ Purse Handicap (1800m).

Karis Teetan will partner the bay – who has won once over 1800m at Happy Valley – from barrier one for Tony Cruz.

“He goes in with a light weight and he’s won at Happy Valley before. Last start he ran into some really big horses. I think going into the race with a light weight that he has a chance – he’s run well at the Valley before,” Teetan said. “If he gets the right run this week, then he’ll get his chance.”

Badel rides another swift improver at the city circuit. The Frenchman gets the leg-up on Healthy Healthy for trainer Pierre Ng in the Class 3 Causeway Handicap (1200m).

“He had a light weight last time but he’s the type of horse who is big enough to carry the weight, it isn’t a bother. He looks well and he’s recovered from his last run,” Ng said.

Russian Emperor, Senor Toba and Straight Arron have been entered to run in the QAT G1 H.H. The Amir Trophy (2400m), while Flaming Rabbit holds an entry for the QAT G2 Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Cup (1600m). Both races are run on 17 February at Al Rayyan in Qatar.

Straight Arron and Russian Emperor trialled at Sha Tin this morning (Tuesday, 9 January), finishing fifth and seventh, respectively. Lucky Sweynesse led the group home in 58.76s over 1000m on turf ahead of his HK$13 million G1 Centenary Sprint Cup (1200m) defence on 28 January.

Voyage Bubble was an eye-catching fifth in the final batch on dirt. The five-year-old next contests the HK$13 million G1 Stewards’ Cup (1600m) on 21 January at Sha Tin.

Beauty Eternal, Beauty Joy, California Spangle, Fantastic Treasure, Healthy Happy, Russian Emperor and Straight Arron also hold entries for the Stewards’ Cup.

Wednesday’s (10 January) eight-race fixture at Happy Valley commences at 7.10pm with the Class 5 Paterson Handicap (1000m).

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