Badel seeks Hong Kong Classic Cup repeat, history sides against favourites

Declan Schuster

24/02/2022 15:32

Alexis Badel celebrates winning the 2021 Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m).
Alexis Badel celebrates winning the 2021 Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m).

Chasing successive wins in Sunday’s (27 February) HK$12 million Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m) at Sha Tin, Alexis Badel has armed himself with the ride on Turin Redsun – a progressive son of super stallion Dubawi – who seemingly floated below the radar until his eye-catching fourth in the Hong Kong Classic Mile (1600m) last month.

“He trialled well, I’m very happy to ride him and Douglas (Whyte) seems to be very confident with the horse – it seems like he is coming together at the right time, and I think it is a good ride to pick up,” Badel said. “I’m fully confident that the horse can be very competitive.”

Victorious in 2021 aboard Healthy Happy, Badel hops aboard the Whyte-trained Turin Redsun for the first time this weekend – eager to upstage better credentialed rivals such as Romantic Warrior and California Spangle – both of whom are expected to dominate the market in a contest that hasn’t been overly kind to favourites since its inception in 2006.

Three favourites have won the Hong Kong Classic Cup (known as the Hong Kong Derby Trial until 2010): Floral Pegasus (2007), Rapper Dragon (2017) and Golden Sixty (2020), while nine winners have returned double figure odds including It Has To Be You (2013) and Mission Tycoon (2019) who shocked at 125/1 and 91/1, respectively.

“It’s Hong Kong – you don’t think too much sometimes, you find a horse, or you find another one, then you get kicked off and you find another one – it’s like a circus but I am very happy to be sitting on a horse who looks competitive, and I will fight to win the race again,” Badel said.

Other long-priced winners of the Hong Kong Classic Cup include Thunder Fantasy (2015) at 22/1 and Healthy Happy (2021) at 21/1, while between 2009 when Unique Jewellery won at 11/1 and It Has To Be You in 2013 – no winner returned a dividend below than 9/1.

Turin Redsun closes for fourth in the Hong Kong Classic Mile.

Trained by Whyte – who is enjoying his hottest period as a handler with two Group 1s savoured – Turin Redsun is lightly raced in Hong Kong with only three runs under his belt after arriving from Great Britain as a two-time winner for John and Thady Gosden.

In his final run before export, the bay finished alongside subsequent Group 1 runner-up Dubai Honour in the Britannia Stakes (1600m) at Royal Ascot – who has since campaigned to Hong Kong to grab fourth behind Loves Only You in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin last December.

“Perfect (the distance of the race), Douglas is going very well with his stayers – he knows what to do and I am fully confident,” Badel said.

Regally bred, Turin Redsun is out of the mare Irish Rookie – who placed twice at Group 1 level in 2015, finishing second in the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches (1600m) and third in the Sun Chariot Stakes (1609m).

In preparation for Sunday, Turin Redsun trialled on the dirt nine days ago (Tuesday, 15 February) over 1200m at Sha Tin – clocking 1m 10.57s behind California Spangle who crossed the line first in 1m 09.96s.

Last weekend, Badel relished glory at the top-level aboard Wellington in the G1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup (1400m), while Whyte captured a one-two finish in the G1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m) thanks to Russian Emperor and Savvy Nine.

Sunday’s (27 February) 10-race fixture at Sha Tin kicks off at 1pm with the Class 5 Wo Che Handicap (2000m).

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