The racing world’s eyes will be on Hong Kong this week for two of the biggest meetings in the far east at Happy Valley and Sha Tin.
Sunday’s Hong Kong International Races card features four Group 1 contests and sees a whole host of familiar names from the UK and Europe.
Prior to that, the International Jockeys’ Championship will pit the best of those based in Hong Kong against a number of international raiders.
What is the International Jockeys’ Championships?
Taking place during Wednesday’s Happy Valley meeting, 12 riders from all around the world will compete to get their hands on the trophy landed by Hong Kong-based Mauritian Karis Teeetan 12 months ago.
Each of the dozen riders will pick up points for winning or placing in each of the designated International Jockeys’ Championship races, from the fourth race on the card until race eight at 2:10pm (omitting race six).
There’s 12 points for the win, six for second and four for coming third. The jockey with the most points after the four important races will be crowned champion.
Which jockeys are making the trip to Hong Kong?
Competing against six jockeys who call Hong Kong home are six international raiders. French riders Pierre Charles Boudout and Mickael Barzalona will make the trip east, while a quartet of British riders will join them, namely;
Ryan Moore landed the prize in 2010 and shared it with two others in 2009. He has ridden in 13 of the last 14 International Jockeys’ Championship and has by far the most experience of the competition of all the Brits heading to Hong Kong.
William Buick finished second in the UK Jockeys Championship behind Oisin Murphy in what was a particularly successful flat campaign on home soil. He’s twice ridden in the event, but not since 2012 when he finished a disappointing ninth.
Tom Marquand has had a stellar season at home, riding the St Leger winner Galileo Chrome and landing a winner on British Champions Day. He’ll be hoping to continue his successes when travelling overseas having become ‘Aussie Tom’ when guiding Addeybb to victory in Australia earlier this year.
Last but by no means least Hollie Doyle completes the quartet of Brits. What a season she has had - from breaking her own records for winners ridden, to being nominated for the Sports Personality Of The Year Award, an International Jockeys’ Championship title would be the cherry on the cake.
British-based jockeys have won three of these events in the last decades, so it would be no surprise if we were to witness another victory for the UK brigade.
Which rides should we look out for?
Each of the Brits has four rides in the competition, with some looking more likely to bring them home 12 points than others.
Here’s who we think is their most likely helper to success.
Horse: Grateful Heart
Race: 2:10pm (Race 8)
While he has a couple of decent chances of success, Moore’s strongest winning possibility looks to come in the final race of the competition on board Danny Shum’s Grateful Heart. The Australian-bred sprinter has turned a corner in his four-year-old season, winning his last two in good style over course and distance. The form of the first of those has been confirmed with the second and third finishing in the frame next time, so with a plum draw he could be on for the hat-trick.
Horse: Happy Good Guy
Race: 12:10pm (Race 4)
Ricky Yui’s charge probably isn’t the most talented of Buick’s rides on the night, but the race he contests isn’t the deepest affair. He drops into a Class 4 event and back to a trip that looks likely to suit better. The son of Zoustar has a win and four placings to his name over the 1000m track at Happy Valley from eight visits. He’s been sent off big odds on his last two runs but hasn;t been disgraced and this looks more suitable.
Race: 12:10pm (Race 5)
Having done well upped in trip this season, it’s hard to see Marquand’s second International Jockeys Championship ride being out of the frame. He’s been derailed by horror draws on his last two course and distance runs but still showed enough to finish fourth and second on those occasions. He’s got a better starting berth this time, and comes into this in good nick, better off at the weights with the re-opposing Play Wise who was one length ahead when the pair met over course and distance earlier this term
Horse: Sunny Lad
Race: 1:40pm (Race 7)
Doyle’s mount in the penultimate leg of the competition is a horse well and truly on the up. He relished a step up in distance when landing a course and distance event in decent style last time out to secure his first win in Hong Kong. It was no surprise to see him improve for the step up to 1600m having scored twice for John Gosden over a mile last season. He’s been raised six ranking points and is in a stronger race here, but he’s hard to dismiss.
Where can you watch and bet on the International Jockeys’ Championship?
You can bet on every race in the International Jockeys’ Championship and Happy Valley’s wider card on the Tote.
Furthermore, the Hong Kong Placepot will kick off in Race 5, giving you the opportunity to support your favourite rider in everyone’s favourite multi-leg bet.
Remember, you can watch every race live by logging into your Tote account.