The world’s best jockeys will compete for the LONGINES International Jockeys’ Championship in a spectacular night of racing at Happy Valley racecourse on Wednesday, 5 December.
Hong Kong’s champion jockey Zac Purton lifted the coveted IJC trophy for the first time last year and is clear about where the LONGINES event ranks on the world stage.
“I think it’s probably the strongest jockey’s competition out of all those around the world,” he said. “It’s certainly the most exciting one, being at Happy Valley under lights as part of international week.”
Purton heads the list of four Hong Kong-based jockeys who will take on eight of their very best counterparts from all over the globe in pursuit of bragging rights and the lion’s share of the HK$800,000 prize pool, which makes the four-race showcase at the iconic city track the world’s richest jockey challenge. The winner will take home HK$500,000; the runner-up HK$200,000 and third, HK$100,000, in addition to prize money won on the night.
Andrew Harding, the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Executive Director, Racing, said: “The LONGINES International Jockeys’ Championship is not only the richest jockey challenge in the world but also the most exciting and the most keenly sought. Each December, the Hong Kong Jockey Club is able to attract the world’s best riders, who ensure this is a world-class sporting competition. We are able to pit established champions against talented rising stars, and it all takes place at Happy Valley, our spectacular floodlit circuit, on a night which is eagerly anticipated.”
Purton, who consolidated his jockeys’ premiership lead with a treble last Saturday, will face spirited and high class competition in his quest to defend his IJC crown. Seven of the eight overseas challengers have been champions in their home or adopted countries in recent years and all have proven their elite talents with big-race successes on the sport’s greatest stages.
They include Silvestre de Sousa, crowned champion jockey in Britain for a third time this year, along with the 2017 champions of Ireland and Japan in Colin Keane and Christophe Lemaire respectively. Lemaire won this year’s JRA World All-Star Jockeys, while compatriot and fellow Group 1 ace Mickael Barzalona brings further Gallic flair to the contest.
Also in the gilded line-up is global big-hitter, Ryan Moore, a three-time champion in Britain, two-time winner of the LONGINES World’s Best Jockey Award (2014 and 2016) and a dual IJC winner.
Legends of the sport in Japan’s Yutaka Take and Javier Castellano, from the United States, will also be making their way to Happy Valley. Take, who has ridden more than 4,000 winners, competes after a 12-year absence while Castellano recently notched his 5,000th win and is fresh from a double at the Breeders’ Cup.
Australia’s Hugh Bowman won the 2016 IJC and the 2017 LONGINES World’s Best Jockey Award. He is known around the racing world for his partnership with champion mare Winx, having guided her to an incredible fourth win in the G1 Cox Plate this year.
Four Hong Kong-based jockeys will also be in the line-up. With Purton guaranteed a spot as reigning domestic champion, two places will go to the next two highest-ranked riders in the Hong Kong championship, as well as the leading homegrown rider (a graduate of the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Apprentice Jockeys’ School) at the cut-off date, which follows the race meeting on Wednesday, 21 November.
Purton leads the Hong Kong Premiership by three wins from Karis Teetan with homegrown riders Matthew Poon and Vincent Ho sitting third and fourth respectively with the former having a one win advantage after the 10 November Panasonic Cup meeting. Three further race meetings will be conducted before the Hong Kong representatives are finalised after the 21 November fixture.
The 2018 LONGINES IJC is a four-race competition in which points will be award as follows in each race: 12 points for 1st, 6 points for 2nd and 4 points for 3rd. The ranking of each jockey will be determined by the total number of points earned over all four races and the IJC champion will be the jockey with the highest accumulated points.
In the case of a dead-heat for any of the first three placings, points will be added and then divided by the number of horses involved. In the LONGINES IJC, substitute jockeys are eligible for points and if a countback is required it will go back to 4th places. Local jockeys with 2lb or 3lb claims are eligible for selection for the LONGINES IJC but there will be no claiming allowance in the four LONGINES IJC races. Apprentice jockeys do not qualify for selection.