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Alexis Badel: Karma, irony and his winning John Wick Moment

Call it karma, call it irony, call it the script to a possible movie, but Sunday at Shatin was packed full of entertainment, action, and if on course, a kinda surreal horse opera starring jockey Alexis Badel and with a cameo by actor Donnie Yen.

Being on Lamma Island for lunch with friends and streaming Hong Kong BMW Derby day intermittently, my one takeaway was just how unpredictable life can be and how, against all odds, Jockey Alexis Badel, 33, was, quite correctly, dealt a winning hand.

For those who don’t follow horse racing, especially horse racing in Hong Kong which is followed like a religion by zealots often travelling in another dimension and pining for days of future past, the French jockey was hard done last week.

This was when, to add to the injuries and suspensions he’s working his way through, Alexis Badel was suddenly losing his best regular ride on Group One winning Wellington, which meant him unable to compete in the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup.

Ryan Moore, very possibly the best jockey in the world replaced him, but not even his brilliance could help Wellington finish better than third in the five horse field.

Karma struck in the very next race- the 2000 metre BMW Classic Derby- when those racing gods smiled on Alexis Badel.

This was when from an outside barrier, he and trainer Ricky Yiu changed strategies by not leading on the galloper.

Instead, the free-striding front runner and 46-1 outsider Voyage Bubble was settled off the pace with Badel producing his ride for a famous last to first win that ambushed everyone else.

Quite a few bubbles are said to have popped and burst after that win.

One can only presume that many connected with the other runners in the race, especially those favourites, were left replaying the race in their heads and left shaken and stirred and wondering what the hell had happened to the best laid plans.

It was almost a John Wick moment made more surreal by the presence on course of actor and BMW brand ambassador Donnie Yen, who appears in the latest and last instalment of the franchise alongside Keanu Reeves and Lance Reddick, 60, who we sadly lost a few days ago.

For Alexis Badel, the win on Voyage Bubble was sweet irony and exacting competitive retribution best served in a cool, calm, collected and dignified way that spoke volumes.

John Wick would have approved.



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