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World’s best jockeys headline star-studded LONGINES IJC line-up, including James McDonald, Ryan Moore and Bauyrzhan Murzabayev

November 14, 2023 at 4:31:32 AM

A stellar line-up will contest the 2023 LONGINES International Jockeys’ Championship (IJC) at Happy Valley Racecourse on Wednesday, 6 December, 2023.

A stellar line-up will contest the 2023 LONGINES International Jockeys’ Championship (IJC) at Happy Valley Racecourse on Wednesday, 6 December, 2023.

This year’s exciting line-up includes three previous winners – Ryan Moore, Tom Marquand and Zac Purton – of the world’s most coveted jockey challenge crown – the LONGINES IJC. They will be challenged by emerging stars Bauyrzhan Murzabayev and Rachel King, who will make their LONGINES IJC debuts and the duo will certainly add another dimension to a spectacular night of racing at the city circuit.

Adding further class to the line-up is New Zealand’s James McDonald. The 2022 LONGINES World’s Best Jockey has enjoyed an immensely successful year so far, notably through his fruitful partnership with local hero Romantic Warrior, recently winning the G1 W.S. Cox Plate.

Ryan Moore is no stranger to the LONGINES IJC, having won the event twice . The Englishman currently sits at the top of the LONGINES World’s Best Jockey rankings and is a leading chance to win his fourth World’s Best Jockey title. Among his elite 2023 achievements is a string of Group 1 triumphs aboard Auguste Rodin in Great Britain, Ireland and the United States.

Four-time German Champion Jockey Bauyrzhan Murzabayev is one of world racing’s most exciting jockeys. The 31-year-old Kazakhstani jockey has dominated the German jockeys’ championship recently, winning the title from 2019 to 2022. Last year, Murzabayev won the G1 Deutsches Derby, the G3 Deutsches St Leger and the G1 Grosser Allianz-Preis von Bayern, while also successful in the G1 Hopeful Stakes in Japan. He is currently based in France and is a retained rider for legendary trainer Andre Fabre.

Australian representative Rachel King will make her IJC debut. King, 33, is an English-born rider based in Sydney, Australia, who has vast experience riding overseas including Europe, Japan, Oman, Qatar, Turkey and the United States. She finished runner-up in Japan’s World All-Star Jockeys contest this year, just one point behind the champion Mirai Iwata.

Great Britain’s Hollie Doyle, joint second in the 2021 LONGINES IJC, has been in tremendous form again this year, adding three more Group 1 wins to her tally. Across 2022 and 2023, she formed a strong alliance with Nashwa and has since added three top-level wins aboard the crack filly, including this year’s Falmouth Stakes.

2022 LONGINES IJC joint winner Tom Marquand bids for consecutive successes. He also finished joint-second in the 2021 edition of the event. His highlights this year include Group 1 victories aboard Quickthorn and Dubai Honour in Great Britain and Australia.

Reigning Hong Kong Champion Jockey Zac Purton will chase a record fourth LONGINES IJC crown, having won the event in 2017, 2020 and 2021. He is a six-time Hong Kong Champion Jockey and currently leads this season’s local standings with 26 wins (as of 11 November).

The exciting line-up also includes two overseas riders with proven records in Hong Kong – Japan’s Yuga Kawada and France’s Mickael Barzalona.

Last year’s JRA Champion Jockey Kawada collected three Group 1 wins aboard Liberty Island this year. He also won the G1 Dubai World Cup last March. His 2021 G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup success with Japan’s globetrotting sensation Loves Only You is one of his best performances in Hong Kong.

Mickael Barzalona, representing France, finished joint second with Hollie Doyle, Tom Marquand and James McDonald in the 2021 LONGINES IJC. Through 2023, the Frenchman won his second G1 Poule d’Essai des Poulains aboard Marhaba Ya Sanafi.

The final three spots on the 12-rider roster for the LONGINES International Jockeys’ Championship will go to the leading homegrown rider and the highest-ranked riders in the Hong Kong championship standings at the cut-off date, which follows the race meeting on Wednesday, 22 November, 2023.

The LONGINES IJC is the most prestigious jockey challenge in the world and the most lucrative for the winning rider. The four races are worth a combined HK$7.5 million in prize money. Meanwhile, a total prize fund of HK$1,000,000 in bonus money for the most successful riders will be split three ways, with the winner set to receive HK$600,000 and second and third HK$250,000 and HK$150,000 respectively.

Mr Andrew Harding, the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Executive Director, Racing, said: “The LONGINES International Jockeys’ Championship is one of the most exciting and prestigious events in the international racing calendar, and this year is of no exception. We have a spectacular line-up, and in particular I am excited to welcome Bauyrzhan Murzabayev and Rachel King to participate in the event for the first time.”

Trainers will again have an added incentive to target their horses at LONGINES IJC races this year thanks to a bonus scheme which will pay HK$300,000, HK$125,000 and HK$75,000 respectively to the three handlers who achieve the highest number of points across the four races, using the same scale as employed for the jockeys.

The four-race competition works on a points-based system with 12 points for the win, six points for second place and four points to third. The ranking of each jockey will be determined by the total number of points earned over all four races and the LONGINES 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 fourth placing.

Homegrown 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.

This year’s edition will again feature the process successfully employed in recent years of allocating rides with a model designed to make the contest competitive and to reduce the risk of individual riders being dealt a particularly strong or weak hand.

This will form the basis for a process in which each rider will be allocated four rides based on an estimated average of each horse’s chance as supplied by the Club’s Jockey Challenge odds-compiling team. The odds-compiling team will assess the credentials of every runner in advance and, without knowing who will ride each horse, will submit their final assessments once the barrier draw is made on the morning of Monday, 4 December.

The minimum riding weight for LONGINES IJC races is 118lb. If there are more than 12 entries for a race, the Club’s Handicapping Department will use their discretion to give preference to horses who have shown reasonable recent form.

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