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World’s best riders set to do battle

Steve Bennett in News 2 Dec 2019
  • The world's best lock horns at Happy Valley
  • Can the local contingent regain the trophy?
International Jockey's Challenge - Hong Kong

It all happens on Wednesday night with the world’s best jockeys looking to win the title in the Hong Kong International Jockeys Championship.

A star-studded line-up from across the globe with match strides with each other as they battle it out at the Happy Valley circuit.

The HK$800,000 Longines International Jockey’s Championship (IJC) is an annual competition with 12 of the best riders from around the world competing in a four-race series during the Happy Valley meeting.

Points are awarded to the three placegetters in each race, with 12 points going to the winner, six points for finishing second while the third placegetter receives four points.

The jockey with the most points after the four races are completed, is declared the winner.


The line-up is made up of eight overseas riders and four local (Hong Kong-based) jockeys.

Heading the list of overseas riders in the reigning IJC Champion, Silvestre De Sousa who will be representing Britain again.

The Brazilian-born rider held up last year’s trophy in only his third Championship (finishing 2nd in 2017 and 4th in 2015).


Silvestre De Sousa - Reigning IJC Champion 

Another member of the British squad is two-time IJC winner Ryan Moore who has a resume as long as the Nile.

The three-time British Champion (2006, 2008, 2009), has amassed a total of 127 Group One successes in no less than 11 different countries and he will be hell-bent on striving for a third IJC title.

Representing Italy is three-time British Champion Frankie Dettori who will making his long-awaited return to IJC series after an eight-year absence.

The 48-year-old icon of the sport is also a three-time winner of IJC, claiming the trophy in 1999, 2001 and at his last attempt in 2011.

New Zealand-born James McDonald has been claimed by Australia and will represent the land down under in the series.

The 27-year-old is riding in career-best form and boasts victories in three Sydney Jockey Premierships (2013/14, 2015/16 and 2018/19) and has two premierships in New Zealand to his name as well (2008/09, 2010/11). 

He has made four previous appearances in the IJC where his best result was finishing 2nd in 2011.

Young Irish rider Colin Keane returns after finishing runner-up in the event last year and represents the land of the leprechaun again. 

The 25-year-old won the Irish Jockey’s Premiership in 2018 and more recently partnered the unbeaten juvenile Siskin to all four of his victories this year, including the Group One Phoenix Stakes.

Yuga Kawada will fly the Japanese flag as he makes his debut in the IJC.

The 34-year-old holds several glossy titles including the 2019 World All-Star Jockeys championship and he was team captain when winning the 2019 Shergar Cup. 

The Japanese rider also boasts 17 Group One victories in Japan and is one of only nine riders in JRA history to have won all five classic races – the Satsuki Sho (2,000 Guineas) 2008, the Yushun Himba (Oaks) 2012, the Kikuka Sho (St Leger) 2010, the Oka Sho (1,000 Guineas) 2014 and the Tokyo Yushun (Derby) 2016. 

Oisin Murphy is the third member of the British invasion where the 24-year-old will also be making his IJC debut.

He is the current British Champion jockey who rode no less than 220 winners during the season. He boasts 14 career Group One wins and has over 900 winners to his credit.

Representing France this year is Pierre-Charles Boudot who finished third in the challenge in 2017. He is a two-time winner of the French Jockey’s Championship (2015, 2016 D/H), and was this year’s winner of the Group One  Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on Waldgeist, one of seven Group One victories for him during the year.

The Hong Kong squad is a powerful one this year headed by arch-rivals (on the track), Zac Purton and Joao Moreira.


Zac Purton & Joao Moreira head the Hong Kong team

Australian-born Purton moved to Hong Kong in 2007 and he is the reigning Hong Kong Champion rider, winning his third jockey’s premiership last season. 

This will be his sixth IJC appearance, winning the title in 2017. 

Joao Moreira currently leads the Hong Kong jockey’s premiership with 41 winners and the Brazilian-born rider also boasts an extensive riding resume.

He has six IJC appearances behind him now, taking the title in 2012.

Known as the ‘Magic Man’, Moreira has three Hong Kong jockey titles (2014/15, 2015/16, 2016/17), having his run stopped by Zac Purton last season.

He also boasts four Singapore titles (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013) and is a two-time winner of the Brazilian Eclipse Award winner (2006/07, 2007/08).

Another member of the local team this year is the experienced Karis Teetan who currently sits third in the Jockey’s Premiership behind Moreira and Purton.

The Mauritian-born rider finished third in last season’s premiership with 52 winners and more recently secured his first Hong Kong Group One victory aboard Mr Stunning in the Longines Hong Kong Sprint.

Rounding off the local squad is Vincent Ho who made his way into the team at last week’s Happy Valley meeting where he rode a double on the night.

The 29-year-old rider was Hong Kong’s Champion Apprentice in season 2010/11, and won the 2019 Tony Cruz Award as Hong Kong’s leading (homegrown) rider.

This will be his third IJC appearance after finishing 3rd in last year’s series.

All the action unfolds on Wednesday night (December 4) at Happy Valley.


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World’s best riders set to do battle

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