After a superb first full-season in Hong Kong which encompassed Group 1 glory, jockey Alexis Badel is brimming with excitement ahead of Wellington’s return after partnering the star sprinter in a hit-out on the turf at Sha Tin yesterday.
“I’m definitely excited; I always knew he was a special horse and it’s good to see a horse like this achieve and perform at this level,” Badel said.
The affable Frenchman gained a maiden G1 success in Hong Kong aboard the speedster in last season’s Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m), defying Japan’s Danon Smash and 11 of Hong Kong’s best to claim the HK$18 million contest on FWD Champions Day (25 April).
Magic Milllions yearling sale graduate Wellington sporting the Kia Ora brand, picture HKJC
“I jumped him out from the 1800-metre start on the grass. It was an easy piece of work just after his break but the horse feels good, he’s ready to trial,” Badel said.
The 121-rater clocked 53.4s (26.2, 27.2) for the 800m gallop under Badel, who didn’t ask too much of the All Too Hard galloper throughout. “He’s always a nice horse to ride and his work was easy. Nothing too fast — just a nice stretch out,” the 31-year-old said.
Having notched 58 wins through last term, Badel’s brilliant first full term was bettered by only a handful of riders; he finished fifth in stakes money earned by his mounts on HK$101.92 million.
“He is definitely more mature. He’s a horse with a lot of personality. He’s always happy to be on the track,” Badel said.
Under the care of trainer Richard Gibson, Wellington boasts an impressive record of seven wins from 10 starts after making his debut in January, 2020.
“I’m very happy with him. He did his first turf jump out on Monday and I was happy with him. He’ll be trialling at Happy Valley next week,” Gibson said.
Pinpointing the G2 Premier Bowl Handicap (1200m) on Sunday 17 October as the five-year-old’s return run, Gibson is plotting a tilt on December’s G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) as his main target for the charge after his second tune-up run Sunday 21 November in the G2 BOCHK Wealth Management Jockey Club Sprint (1200m).
“He’ll run his two races to try and get him ready for the big one,” he outlined.