Alexis Badel will never forget his victory aboard the Frankie Lor-trained Simply Brilliant in last year’s January Cup. The Frenchman hit the floor hard just a few strides after sealing a first Group race win in Hong Kong and limped through the post-race formalities while nursing his fractured wrist.
“The stewards even called me in and gave me two days and a HK$25,000 fine, so I was like this (holding my hand to my chest), pretty white and couldn’t walk. I knew something was wrong with the wrist,” he recalled.
Badel was back riding two weeks later, even though the doctor had told him he would be out of action for closer to two months, a span that would have overshot the end of his winter riding contract.
“When I went to see the doctor, he said I would be able to ride again in March, so I said, ‘Okay, I can fly back (to France) tomorrow!’ So he said to come after two weeks and we will cut the cast and we will see. He was pretty surprised because I wasn’t so sensitive, I was not able to trial horses two days before I returned to the races but I was okay for the Sunday, so I rushed myself a little bit. It was pretty painful.”
Badel suffered a more serious fall at Lion d’Angers in France in August and had a metal plate inserted into his fractured face.
“It’s ok now,” he said. “You think about it a little bit. You say ‘I don’t want to live this again’ but you just go forward. I don’t have any doubt and I don’t give myself the opportunity to have any doubt. I take the time I need to for recovery and then I will come back. I’m strong mentally.”
Simply Brilliant’s January Cup win was one of 10 for the rider during his third short-term Hong Kong contract and helped enhance his profile ahead of this season, which has seen him already bag 12 wins, two shy of his best return here.
“It was very important and hopefully the horse can do something similar (in the Group 3 January Cup Handicap (1800m) at Happy Valley tonight),” Badel said. “We already know Happy Valley and this trip suit him well. Based on his last run, it’s so-so, but the race before, in the Group 2, he ran a good race, he was relaxed and he hit the line pretty good.”
Simply Brilliant followed a sound fourth in the Group 2 Jockey Club Mile by finishing last of 10 in the Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile.
“Last time we went slow and the horse didn’t relax, he didn’t breathe and I was three-deep, no cover,” Badel said. “It’s very difficult in that case. Things didn’t go well because the field didn’t stretch and I was not able to cross. I had no options, so it’s a race to forget and hopefully he can do something better this time. Based on the second-to-last race, he should run well.”