Alexis Badel is confident Happy Together has the qualities to contend strongly in the HK$4.075 million Chevalier Cup (1600m) at Sha Tin on Sunday when Frankie Lor’s talented gelding bids to extend impressive progress.
Unbeaten in two runs since joining Lor’s stable after the departure of his former trainer Richard Gibson, Happy Together has risen to a rating of 85 after starting the season as a 73-rater with successive victories in Class 3 and Class 2.
“It will be interesting to see how he (Happy Together) can compete against these higher-class horses who can quicken very fast – they’re able to do very fast sectionals – so I think it’s a real test and if he can keep up with those horses, it is a very good sign,” Badel said.
“I always believed that he is a quality horse and he proved already a while ago and the horse has continued to improve and he keeps doing what I thought he is capable of. The horse is pretty simple, he’s very versatile, he’s a very handy horse so hopefully I can put him in the right spot and he can hit the line.”
Happy Together will start from barrier two with only 115lb and will face 10 rivals headed by another regular Badel mount Red Lion (135lb) as well as Circuit Stellar (134lb), Running Glory (134lb), Telecom Fighters (133lb), Super Sunny Sing (130lb), The Golden Scenery (125lb), Bourbonaire (124lb), Spirited Express (123lb), Atullibigeal (118lb) and The Best Peach (118lb).
With three wins and two seconds from nine starts over Sha Tin’s 1600m course, Happy Together’s development has impressed Badel.
“He’s doing everything correctly so far, so I’m very pleased with him. His handicap situation is very favourable in this race, he’s a quality horse,” the Frenchman said.
Andrea Atzeni believes Danny Shum’s decision to unleash Packing Bole on Sha Tin’s dirt track will continue to pay off.
“He was very impressive last start. It was obviously his first run on the All Weather (but) we were actually very confident going into the race because he had trialled well,” Atzeni said reflecting on the bay’s three and three-quarter length romp on 25 October.
“He had obviously won on the grass before but the switch back to the All Weather seemed to really suit him and he was very impressive last time. Obviously, he goes up in the handicap (12lb to 128lb) but he couldn’t have done it any easier – he’s in good form.”
Keen to continue the form which landed him a Hong Kong career-high quartet last Sunday, Brenton Avdulla hopes Red Desert can press for successive victories.
Winless in 33 starts since his previous success in April, 2021, Red Desert posted a drought-breaking triumph under Avdulla on October 25.
“It was a good result for him. He had been knocking on the door for a long, long time and he was down right on that mark (124lb) where you expected him to win and he was able to get the job done. He’s come through and he’s trialled well in between and I’m looking forward to getting back on him.
“John has got him in really good order and he loves these conditions – 1200 (metres), dirt – he just goes up a little bit in weight (131lb) but I don’t think it will slow him down too much. He’s going to get his chance to jump, travel on the speed and run well again.”