GET SET for the ‘Valley of the Kings’ extravaganza at Happy Valley on Wednesday, when a dozen of the best jockeys from around the world compete for the LONGINES International Jockeys’ Championship.
With nearly £50,000 going to the winning rider, in what is the most lucrative jockeys series prize in horse racing, it’s no wonder the likes of Ryan Moore, James McDonald, Mickael Barzalona and Yuga Kawada have jetted in to take part in the four-race series.
Points are allocated for the winner (12), second (6) and third (4) across the four races, and luck will also play an important role to determine the outright winner.
The UK are represented by former dual IJC winner Moore, Hollie Doyle, who rode a winner at this corresponding meeting last season, and her talented husband-to-be Tom Marquand.
Moore has a huge following with the racing enthusiasts in Hong Kong and is guaranteed to be one of the market leaders to pick up the coveted trophy once again.
On the ‘B’ course, low numbers have a decided advantage over their high drawn rivals and all four of Moore’s rides have been allocated good draws.
His best chance of success may come in the second leg of the International Jockeys’ Championship Handicap (12.40pm) over the extended mile, when he teams up with fast-improving AI ONE.
The New Zealand bred five-year-old has taken time to acclimatise to conditions in the territory, but showed he was close to his peak late last month when dashing fast and late down the home straight to chase home Yee Cheong Warrior.
On that occasion, after being dropped back to the tail from an awkward draw, he was only asked to pick up turning into the home straight and then raced widest of all before delivering his late challenge.
There is no doubt he would have gone close to winning had he been able to sit closer to the leaders from the off, and that form can be upgraded.
Marquand has been given an outstanding chance of following in his partner’s footsteps by riding his first winner in Hong Kong when he partners talented AWESOME TREASURE in the first leg of the International Jockeys’ Championship Handicap (12.10pm) over five furlongs.
The son of Charm Spirit has always been highly regarded in the David Hayes stable and produced an encouraging introduction when caught close home by the more experienced Gracylove over six furlongs at Sha Tin in October.
Having been an eye-catcher in a recent trial at the tricky city circuit and looking like he had improved plenty on his debut run, he is going to be hard to catch against rivals who all appear to be rated up to their best.
Awesome Treasure 12.10pm Happy Valley
Ai One 12.40pm Happy Valley