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Red Lion claims Hong Kong Macau Trophy under inspired Badel ride

May 15, 2023 at 3:49:12 AM

Reprising memories of an inspired BMW Hong Kong Derby ride in March, Alexis Badel overturned convention from a wide barrier to secure the Class 1 Hong Kong Macau Trophy Handicap (1400m) on Red Lion at Sha Tin on Saturday (13 May).

Reprising memories of an inspired BMW Hong Kong Derby ride in March, Alexis Badel overturned convention from a wide barrier to secure the Class 1 Hong Kong Macau Trophy Handicap (1400m) on Red Lion at Sha Tin on Saturday (13 May).

Mirroring the icy tactics he displayed during Voyage Bubble’s improbable rise to Derby glory after covering ground from gate 14 on 19 March, unflappable Badel charted a winning passage from barrier 13 on a yielding track today, again choosing to course wide in search of better ground for the first 800m before striking decisively.

“It was very smooth. I had all the benefits of the wide gate to take as much time as I needed to come across and once I realised I could have a nice spot behind the leader away from the rail on the good ground, I just seized the opportunity to track the leader,” the Frenchman said.

“Entering the home straight, I thought Circuit Stellar was going way better on the rail so I cut the corner to follow him, knowing that my horse would really enjoy the soft ground – his action was pretty good. He was strong on the line, carrying the light weight (116lb) which was a huge advantage. He’s a horse in very good form.”

“He’s got plenty to offer, he’s much more relaxed than he used to be, he’s much more professional than he used to be and he’s going to be a nice horse next season.”

Red Lion downed stablemate and favourite Beauty Eternal by one and three-quarter lengths, while Circuit Stellar fought bravely to finish a further half length further back in 1m 22.96s as Hong Kong horses filled the first six positions with Out To Win crossing in seventh for Macau.

Size said: “He (Red Lion) drew the right gate for it and looked like he was going to have every possible chance before the start of the race after the rain came and the track started to deteriorate.”

Group photo at the Hong Kong Macau Trophy presentation ceremony. Chairman of The Hong Kong Jockey Club Mr Michael Lee (back row, first from right), Deputy Chairman of The Hong Kong Jockey Club Dr Eric Li (front row, fourth from right), Chairman of the Macau Jockey Club Ms Angela Leong (front row, third from right), The Hong Kong Jockey Club Stewards and CEO of The Hong Kong Jockey Club Mr Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges (back row, first from left) in attendance.
Referring to Beauty Eternal, the master trainer said: “He’s been very brave. He’s done a good job to get so close to the winner.”

Apprentice Ellis Wong slotted his first Hong Kong winner when Storm Legend swept from last to claim the second section of the Class 4 Friendship Bridge Handicap (1400m) for Caspar Fownes. Contesting only his sixth race in Hong Kong since returning from Australia, the unflappable 22-year-old Wong drew rich praise from Fownes.

“He’s (Wong) got a calm head on him and that might make him into a jockey because he doesn’t panic – he’s a bit of a dude that way,” Fownes said. “It’s a good result for the boy. He’s had only a handful of starts and to get a winner in Hong Kong – the toughest place in world, I’d say, to be racing – is a good start. He’s got a long way to go but we’ll just try to bring him along slowly and hopefully he’ll make it.”

Wong, who rode 88 winners in South Australia, said: “It’s really exciting to get my first winner, especially to win for my boss. I ride this horse every morning and it’s very exciting to win with this horse.”

Matthew Chadwick notched his 300th Sha Tin winner – and moved to within three wins of the 500 Hong Kong victory milestone – with success on Frankie Lor’s Super Highway in the first section of the Class 4 Macau-Taipa Bridge Handicap (1200m).

“I didn’t know (about the milestone), but it’s good. My career it’s always been stop and start and the momentum I was hoping to build up this season has sort of gone with my injury. I want to try and get on better horses, obviously, and in better grades. I want to keep performing.”

Lor maintained hopes of successive Hong Kong trainers’ championships when Flamingo Trillion provided a stable double with victory in the first section Class 4 Friendship Bridge Handicap (1400m) for Derek Leung.

Hugh Bowman slotted his 50th victory of the season when Tony Cruz-trained Brave Dreams ploughed through the going to clinch the Class 3 Taipa Handicap (1400m) before Vincent Ho and Francis Lui combined successfully with Universal Horizon in the Class 3 Coloane Handicap (1600m).

Chris So-trained veteran Pakistan Friend posted his third win over the course and distance with victory in the Class 5 Guia Hill Handicap (1800m) under a well-judged Zac Purton ride. The Hong Kong International Sale graduate’s previous triumph was in February, 2021.

Purton doubled his tally by triumphing in the second section of the Class 4 Macau-Taipa Bridge Handicap (1200m) aboard Pulsar Strider for Benno Yung before Dennis Yip struck with Sparkling Knight’s win in the Class 4 Sai Van Bridge Handicap (1000m).

Jerry Chau ignored the temptation to leave the rail in search of better ground and was rewarded with victory aboard Danny Shum’s Winner Method in the Class 3 Macau Handicap (1200m), defying charging rivals wider out on the course.

Hong Kong racing continues at Happy Valley on Wednesday evening (17 May).

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