Karis Teetan secured his first Longines International Jockeys' Championship at Happy Valley on Wednesday, seeing off Ryan Moore thanks to a hugely consistent night across the four race-spectacular.
Made favorite to lift the crown following Monday's allocation ceremony, Teetan admitted to feeling plenty of pressure ahead of the star-studded evening but posted points-scoring performances in the first two legs, before edging past his 11 world-class rivals with a third-placed effort in the decider.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club's Chairman Dr Anthony Chow presented the coveted silver whip and a winners' cheque of HK$500,000 to Teetan, who celebrated a crucial victory in leg two when driving Dream Warriors between horses to score by a short head.
“I still can't believe I've won this challenge,” said an elated Teetan. “I knew I had some decent rides but you still need the horses to perform. I was telling my fiancée (Xaviere Cottereau) that I was really feeling the pressure.
“It's just not a normal day up against the world's best jockeys. I really wanted to do well and I'm glad everything went well.”
Teetan will hope to carry confidence from Wednesday evening's victory into Sunday's Longines Hong Kong International Races card, where he will have notable chances of Group 1 glory with Hot King Prawn in the Sprint and Ka Ying Star in the Mile.
“We ride here every week but it's a different kind of racing when you're out there against so many good jockeys,” he said. “Even watching Ryan and Frankie (Dettori) riding here we'll pick up a few things and let's hope it can help me in the future.”
Teetan was in no hurry to capitalize on a rail draw for Dream Warriors in leg two but conjured a fine response when throwing down his challenge, wrapping up a quickfire double for trainer Tony Cruz in the process.
“I know the horse and I just needed to get a clean jump on him,” said Teetan. “Mr Cruz asked me to have nothing in my hands and just let him switch off like he's done before and then let down in the straight. He did this and I'm really happy with this win.”
If Dream Warriors' success was a narrow one then how crucial would Teetan's third-placed finish aboard the late-charging G Unit prove to be in the opening Longines race, edging out Vincent Ho on Prawn Yeah Yeah to capture a decisive four points, despite his mount never quite going the pace of the winner over 1000 meters.
A length and a half out in front was Flying Genius, the beneficiary of a simple and efficient ride from Moore, who might have had a second win after setting almost perfect fractions with Magnificent in leg three.
“They went good and hard early and he really got into his stride turning in and he hit the line well,” said Keane, who now has two race wins from two visits to the Longines following last year's debut success aboard Special Stars.
While Teetan was unable to rack up a second win when finishing third on the heavily-supported High Rev in the final leg, four points was enough to put him over the top against Moore.
Ho snatched the money when charging home on Glorious Dragon to deny longtime leader The Hulk, a result which put him on the bottom step of the podium in third place.
Ho said: “It's amazing riding against the world's top jockeys like Frankie Dettori and Ryan Moore. Normally I have to watch them on television.”
Hong Kong racing continues at Sha Tin on Sunday, 8 December with the Longines Hong Kong International Races.
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