Stevens, Smith Lead U.S. Team for Longines International Jockeys’ Championship

by | 11.13.2013 | 8:13am
Gary Stevens and Beholder celebrate their victory in the 2013 Breeders' Cup Distaff

A stunning line-up of 12 superstar riders will take centre stage at Happy Valley on Wednesday, 4 December for the LONGINES International Jockeys' Championship, worth HK$800,000.

The top three riders in the four-race contest will each receive prize money, with the winner carrying off HK$500,000, the second HK$200,000 and the third HK$100,000.

In what is one of the strongest international line-ups ever assembled, North American legends Mike Smith and Gary Stevens will join peers from around the globe, among them the three-time British champion Ryan Moore, five-time champion of France Christophe Soumillon and two riders who have ignited the Hong Kong circuit this season, 13-time champion Douglas Whyte and Joao Moreira.

“The line-up for the 2013 LONGINES International Jockeys' Championship is about as A-list as it gets,” said William A Nader, the Hong Kong Jockey Club's Executive Director of Racing. “It says much about the prestige of this important international event that we have a line-up of some of the world's great riders, all coming into the IJC in outstanding form. It will be fascinating and incredibly exciting to watch these international stars showcase their skills around Happy Valley Racecourse, one of the sport's iconic venues.”

Representing nine countries or regions, the invited jockeys include four past winners of the LONGINES IJC, including the 2012 victor Joao Moreira. The Brazilian has enjoyed a stellar start to his Hong Kong career since arriving in late October, but on 4 December he will once again carry the Singapore flag as that nation's reigning champion jockey. This year marks the fourth consecutive season that he has claimed the Singapore title.

The other past winners seeking further glory are Whyte (2002, 2007, 2008), Moore (2009 dead-heat, 2010) and Soumillon (2004 dead-heat).

The American Hall of Fame riders, Smith and Stevens, head to Happy Valley in tremendous form. Smith, the winner of over 5000 races in the US, will be making his IJC debut and is the most successful rider in Breeders' Cup history. He notched his 20th career win at that event earlier this month when he also took the Bill Shoemaker Award for leading jockey at the Breeders' Cup for the second successive year.

Stevens, who has a profile outside the sport for his role in the blockbuster movie Seabiscuit, has won over 5000 races worldwide. Since returning from retirement in January, he has enjoyed a dream campaign, capped by the victories of Oxbow in the G1 Preakness and a long-awaited first success in the G1 Breeders' Cup Classic aboard MUCHO MACHO MAN.

Australia's Kerrin McEvoy has ridden big-race winners around the world for Sheikh Mohammed's Darley and Godolphin operations, and has already notched three G1 wins Down Under this season. His fellow IJC debutant, Japan's rising star Suguru Hamanaka, as well as five-time Italian champion Mirco Demuro and France's elite contender Maxime Guyon complete the overseas contingent.

The competition would be incomplete without the Hong Kong heroes, and as well as the reigning Hong Kong champion Whyte, Zac Purton is likely to make the line-up as he is currently premiership leader by nine wins. The final spot is open to the leading Hong Kong local jockey according to the standings on 20 November. Right now, that looks to be a three-way battle between Keith Yeung, Matthew Chadwick and Vincent Ho.

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