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Already with three Group One victories on Wellington, Alexis Badel is hoping to increase the tally to four in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) at Sha Tin on Sunday (10 December) on the horse he describes as his game-changer.
The Frenchman suffered injuries in a race fall at Sha Tin a couple of weeks before last year's big sprint and watched from the sidelines as Ryan Moore guided the gelding to victory.
He admitted it was hard to watch the race but he wanted to be trackside to support the gelding's then trainer Richard Gibson and the owners.
But this time around Badel hopes it is his turn for glory as Wellington, now under the care of Jamie Richards, aims for back-to-back victories.
"I also wanted to go to the races to thank people for their support as I was badly injured," Badel said.
"It was still better than watching the race in the apartment, so it was a tough moment but you have to toughen-up but at the end of the day it's the life of being a jockey."
Badel suffered a dislocated and broken shoulder and a broken ankle which was repaired with surgery by inserting screws into it, but his medical team did everything possible to accelerate his return and he got him back riding quicker than expected.
"I was riding with a pin in my ankle I had to have it removed and I only had a few days to take it out and keep riding," he said.
Badel says Wellington is the best sprinter he has ridden and describes him as a superstar and real champion. He has ridden him in eight of his 12 wins.
"He has been a real game-changer in my Hong Kong career and I am grateful for everything he has given me," Badel said.
"He has been a great horse since day one."
In a field of 10 runners, Badel expects Wellington to run well after being placed third behind Lucky Sweynesse and Victor The Winner in last month's G2 BOCHK Private Banking Jockey Club Sprint (1200m) at Sha Tin.
He said as a seven-year-old, Wellington is ageing like everyone, but is drawn well.
"But it doesn't matter and he will take the benefits of his last run," Badel said. "I am pretty sure he is going to be right there."
With Japanese runner Jasper Krone and Victor The Winner both front runners, Badel said Wellington had a good turn of foot and he'd be handy in the run.
He said he would place Wellington where he was comfortable.
"He jumps well and I am going to ride the race that suits my horse," he said.
"I thought Lucky Sweynesse's last run was convincing and you can't take anything from him. Whether it is not the same Lucky Sweynesse, it doesn't really matter and I am going to ride Wellington the way I feel.
"He has improved his fitness from the last run and he can certainly do very well."
After riding a double at last Sunday's (3 December) Sha Tin meeting, Badel said he is in good shape and mentally relaxed.
Wellington has raced six times without winning since last December's sprint victory and finished 10 of 16 in the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Stakes (1200m) at Ascot before resuming with a third over 1200m at Sha Tin last month.
Badel also rides in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m) on Five G Patch and Champion Dragon in the LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m).
He said Five G Patch was certainly one of the good stayers in Hong Kong but didn't know if he was good enough against some of the more fancied runners.
Badel rode Champion Dragon to victory at his last start and said he was a horse in great form.