Today the circus arrives in Hong Kong, with the main attraction being the Longines International Jockeys’ Championship (IJC) at Happy Valley.
Some of the greatest jockeys in the world will arrive at the inner-city track, battling it out for big bucks and a trophy, plus being acclaimed the best jockey in the world…just for a day.
For readers old enough to remember the 1978 Oscar-nominated movie ‘The Boys from Brazil’, it springs to mind when looking down at some of the jockeys taking part in the mini four-race championship series.
It must be a first in racing when Brazilian-born Silvestre De Sousa, Britain’s champion jockey, ‘Magic Man’ Joao Moreira, the king of Hong Kong racing, and teenage sensation, 18-year-old Leandro Henrique, crowned champion in his home territory as an apprentice last season, are all riding at the same race meeting.
Add the X-factor, with the likes of Ryan Moore, Australian Hugh Bowman, and Moreira again, three names commonly associated with the ‘world’s best jockey’ tag, and you can see why Hong Kong will come to a standstill for a few hours as the racing-mad locals support their favourite racing icons.
Moore is very popular with the local Hong Kong racegoers, and they will be hoping that he can add another IJC success to his CV, having won the title in 2010.
However, French jockey Pierre-Charles Boudot, who rode 300 winners last season, is the local favourite to be crowned champion for the day.
The Happy Valley card features nine races, and as the Australian gamblers say, “winners are grinners, whichever race they come from”.
The man to follow at the Valley must be trainer John Size.
The former nine-time Hong Kong champion trainer started the season slowly, but in the last six weeks his stable has been firing on all cylinders.
In fact, Size has saddled 11 winners and 21 places from his last 50 runners.
This is a staggering statistic in the ultra-competitive racing environment in Hong Kong.
Size saddles seven runners, of which half-a-dozen can be given leading chances.
INFINITY ENDEAVOUR in the United Kingdom Handicap (11.00am) and JOLLY BOUNTIFUL in leg two of the IJC (12.40pm) are both making their seasonal reappearances, but have shown enough encouragement both in track work and at recent trials to suggest they will be very hard to beat.
Moreira, who is aboard Infinity Endeavour, also teams up with Size on the well-handicapped MONEY BOY in the France Handicap (1.10pm).
This Australian-bred four-year-old took some time to acclimatize to conditions in Hong Kong, and despite winning last year, always looked on the weak side.
This season he has been steadily progressing, and his recent encouraging effort when dashing late, but just failing to catch rival Keep Moving, suggests he is now primed to visit the winners’ enclosure.
Newly-crowned Longines ‘Best Jockey in the World’ Hugh Bowman has the leg-up on another of Size’s fast improving contenders, in SIR REDALOT in the Japan Handicap (11.30am).
This race looks a difficult puzzle to solve, but Size can provide the answer with a horse that won his last start when not 100% fit, and is now in mint condition.
With the likes of Bank On Red and last-start winner Dinozzo also representing Size on the card, this could prove a red letter day for both the trainer and his legion of followers.
POINTERS - TODAY
Infinity Endeavour 11.00am Happy Valley
Sir Redalot e/w 11.30am Happy Valley
Jolly Bountiful 12.40pm Happy Valley
Money Boy 1.10pm Happy Valley