‘Scene’ in Hong Kong: Celebrating the World’s Best Jockeys

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Kerrin McEvoy raises the trophy after winning the 2013 Longines International Jockeys' Championship Kerrin McEvoy raises the trophy after winning the 2013 Longines International Jockeys' Championship

The Paulick Report is in Hong Kong for an important week that culminates with the world-class Hong Kong International Races on Sunday. But there are other festivities surrounding the main event at Sha Tin. Wednesday at Happy Valley Racecourse, a dozen top jockeys battled in a four-race competition for the Longines International Jockeys’ Championship.

Australia’s Kerrin McEvoy took home the top prize after a close battle that included Americans Mike Smith and Gary Stevens.  You’ll find more on the results below, but Paulick Report Editor-in-Chief Scott Jagow was on hand to bring us video highlights of an evening celebrating the human athletes who make international racing so thrilling to watch.

The LONGINES International Jockeys’ Championship could arguably boast the best dozen jockeys ever assembled for this competition at Happy Valley and indeed anywhere in the world. The jockeys had ridden in excess of 24,000 winners between them but it was just one race that decided this great championship. The 2013 Championship fully lived up to its lofty expectations with the title going right down to the wire in the fourth leg, with five jockeys in with a chance of securing at least a share of the title.

Kerrin McEvoy got his evening off to the best possible start when producing a masterly ride from the front on the 26-1 longshot Home With Glory to land the 1st Leg of the Championship, keeping enough up his sleeve to hold off the challenges of the favourite Winning Mascot (Suguru Hamanaka) and Redwood Baby under Ryan Moore, who was outpaced early but finished with real purpose to get up for third.

Christophe Soumillon struck for Belgium in the second leg, taking a leaf out of the McEvoy book, riding Flying Chaparral from the front. He broke alertly from Gate 8 and never relinquished that position, easily repelling all challengers on the 3.1-1 favorite. In the process he provided a double for trainer Francis Lui, who had also saddled first leg winner Home With Glory.

Soumillon said: “This was my best shot of the night. I was able to set the pace I wanted up front and he responded well. With the rides I have to come, and Kerrin (McEvoy) scoring more points, I might struggle to be better than third.” A correct prediction as it turned out.

Kerrin McEvoy was again amongst the points taking six for his second place finish aboard Expectator, while Mike Smith finished third for four points on the Danny Shum-trained Southern Springs. After two legs McEvoy led on 18 points from Soumillon on 12, Hamanaka on 6, with Smith and Moore on 4 points each.

Mirco Demuro moved into contention when driving out the Caspar Fownes-trained Fun ‘N’ Games to take the third leg. Richard Hughes on second placed St Yazin and Zac Purton aboard third placed Rocket Let Win were both scoring their first points of the night. So going into the final leg McEvoy led on 18 points from Demuro and Soumillon on 12 each, with Hamanaka and Hughes on 6 points, and Moore, Smith and Purton on 4 points apiece. It was now all down to the crucial fourth leg.

In the final leg McEvoy finished out of the points, but, fortunately for him, so did Demuro and Soumillon his closest rivals, leaving the Australian in an unassailable position. Fellow Australian Zac Purton ran out the winner of the fourth leg on the Tony Cruz-trained favorite Majestic Anthem, from Maxime Guyon on the Caspar Fownes-trained Formula Won, with Ryan Moore on Great Charm back in third spot. Purton’s win propelled him into second place on 16 points ahead of Christophe Soumillon in third place on countback, but clear on 18 points was the 2013 LONGINES International Jockeys’ Championship winner Kerrin McEvoy.

The newly crowned LONGINES International Jockeys’ Championship winner Kerrin McEvoy said: “I’m very delighted to have won this event, it’s a great competition. There are some great names on this trophy, and to have my name on it too is a great thrill. I was on an outsider in the first leg, but he got a cheap lead and had enough kick to hold on. In the second I drew a nice gate, and was able to save energy for the final furlongs and getting points was a bonus. It’s been a fantastic experience riding with such greats as Gary Stevens and Mike Smith, and I’m grateful to the Hong Kong Jockey Club for inviting me here, and I hope I can come again. I last rode at Happy Valley in 2004, but never rode a winner, so it was nice to put that right tonight.”

Commenting on the evening’s Championship, HKJC Executive Director, Racing, William A Nader said: “It was a great night’s racing, these are top class jockeys and they raced very competitively. I have no doubt it was the best International Jockeys’ Championship that we have staged in the history of this event.”

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  • http://judgebork.wordpress.com Lou Baranello Former Steward

    It is claimed that these are the best jockeys in the world. I don’t understand the word best and I wish someone would explain what it is that sets these riders apart from the riders who were not invited.

    • Birdy2

      It’s subjective, obviously. A matter of opinion plus various ways of calculating success, that’s all. Unlike the U.S., where the only thing that seems to matter is number of wins or dollars won, regardless of HOW it was done.

      • http://judgebork.wordpress.com Lou Baranello Former Steward

        Very good observation!

        • Mimi Hunter

          Birdy2 is right – but what else are they going to say? That ‘these are the best jockeys who would accept the invitation’ ?

  • Grazyna Mianska

    The best jockey in the world could not make it because of injury. The great Frankie Dettori !

    • http://judgebork.wordpress.com Lou Baranello Former Steward

      I’ll ask you the same question. What is it that Frankie does on horses that places his skills above the skills of other riders?

  • David Juffet

    Johnny v. To me he’s the best or at least one of them.of course he’s injured but that’s not the point.

    • http://judgebork.wordpress.com Lou Baranello Former Steward

      You didn’t answer my question.

      • http://judgebork.wordpress.com Lou Baranello Former Steward

        David, If you believe Johnny V is the best, try to tell me what it is that that he does on horses which separates him from riders that you think are mediocre or perhaps even poor riders. Im interested in your answer.

        • Terri Z

          I hope you don’t mind if I reply.
          Johnny V is a great tactical rider and puts the horse in the right position to win. Johnny has the knack of getting the most out of the horse. He makes few mistakes and responds quickly and appropriately.
          He and Gary Stevens are the most intelligent jockeys in the US.
          When Johnny V had the mount on Orb, Orb never lost. He moved him to the outside where he could close and win. Roserio let the horse stay pinned at the rail, at the Preakness, and could not get out in time.
          Judy the Beauty almost always finished 2nd until Johnny V rode her; then she won.
          If Johnny had ridden Union Rags in all of the Triple Crown races, he would have won more than just the Belmont.

          • http://judgebork.wordpress.com Lou Baranello Former Steward

            Terri Z, Please feel free to respond to anything I post and I hope others will do the sane. Thus far yours is the best response I have. Why? More about that in a moment. The level of skills held by a rider and the number of races won by a rider have no direct correlation with one another. A rider with certain skills can possibly improve a horse’s’ chances of winning over those of a rider of fewer or no skills. Also keep in mind that no rider can cause a horse to perform any better than that particular horses’s best effort. Why were your answers better than the others? Because knowledge of tactics, the ability to minimize mistakes, the ability to respond quickly and an overall sense of intelligence are all vital instincts necessary for a rider to be good or better than those riders without such skills. The word knack, you will have to explain to me. Your statements regarding Orb and Union Rags are opinions that are respectable. Thank you for your interest.

  • David Juffet

    I can’t answer your question Lou.I don’t know who selected these jockeys and how many declined their invitation. The headline say best but the article says “top” and arguably the best so I think your splitting hairs here.

  • Birdy2

    J’adore ce mec Maxime Guyon ! Tellement mignon.. et aussi si doué. Thanks for the story etc.

  • Maferwin

    These contests are useless and stupid.

    • http://www.paulickreport.com/ Scott Jagow

      Sure, perhaps in the U.S., the way they (are/are not) marketed. Here, the jockey races are enormously popular and generate handle that far exceeds the other races on the same card, so there’s that.

      • http://judgebork.wordpress.com Lou Baranello Former Steward

        Good point, Scott

  • JoeJoe

    Waste of time., does any true race fan really care. Actually, I didn’t know this event happened until I read paulickreport..,

  • David Juffet

    Maferwin: you got that right!

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