Longines IJC Gets HKIR Week Off to a Bang | TDN | Thoroughbr…

Longines IJC Gets HKIR Week Off to a Bang | TDN | Thoroughbr…

Tuesday, December 4, 2018 at 9:23 am |
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Zac Purton won his first IJC in 2017 | HKJC photo

By Alan Carasso

HONG KONG — As nightfall descends upon Hong Kong Island Wednesday evening, a dozen of the finest jockeys representing seven racing jurisdictions will battle one another for the winner’s share of HK$800,000 in the Longines International Jockeys’ Championship at picturesque Happy Valley Racecourse.

It was a magical season for the locally based Zac Purton in 2017-2018, which included a defeat of Silvestre de Sousa for his first success in the IJC before adding a front-running victory aboard Time Warp (GB) (Archipenko) in the G1 Longines Hong Kong Cup. For good measure, Purton refused to let the record-setting Joao Moreira out of his sights in the local jockeys’ premiership and proved too tough in the finish by a count of 136 to 134.

Representing Australia, Bowman scarcely needs an introduction. The regular rider for the irrepressible Winx (Aus) (Street Cry {Ire}), last year’s Longines World’s Best Jockey recipient is a four-time champion in Sydney and is no stranger the Sha Tin winner’s enclosure, having most notably struck a partnership with Werther (NZ) (Tavistock {NZ}). Bowman has been aboard for victories in the G1 QE II Cup and G1 Champions and Chater Cup in addition to the Hong Kong Derby and gets back aboard Werther for Sunday’s Cup. Bowman, who won the 2016 IJC, is winless in 14 rides at the HKIR.

Two-time IJC hero Ryan Moore continues his jet-setting ways this week in Hong Kong, having recently ridden in Australia, the U.S. (twice) and Japan in the last few weeks. Moore, 35, is the winner of 119 Grade/Group 1 races in 11 different countries and has posted victories in the HKIR in each of the last three years (Maurice {Jpn}, Highland Reel {Ire}, 2015; Maurice, 2016; Highland Reel, 2017).

America’s Javier Castellano will make his second appearance in the IJC, having finished well down the field in 2006. The 41-year-old native of Venezuela recently surpassed the 5,000 mark in career victories and took his Breeders’ Cup tally to 10 with scores in the Juvenile Turf Sprint and in the GI Dirt Mile.

Castellano is looking forward to the challenge.

“I’ve never seen such passionate fans and it was an amazing experience,” he said Tuesday, referring to his first try at the IJC. “This time I have some good draws and hopefully I can have a bit of luck.”

Japan’s legendary Yutaka Take and Japanese-based Frenchman Christophe Lemaire each have one IJC success to their credit, dead-heating for the win in 2004 and 2009, respectively. An 18-time champion on the JRA circuit, Take won the 2015 Cup astride A Shin Hikari (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}). Lemaire arrives in Hong Kong in top form, having piloted Japanese Filly Triple Crown winner Almond Eye (Jpn) (Lord Kanaloa {Jpn}) to a soft tally in the G1 Japan Cup Nov. 25. Last year’s champion JRA jockey, Lemaire is well on his way to a successful defence of that title this season, as he currently sits on 200 winners for 2018, some 57 clear of second-placed Mirco Demuro as of Dec. 1.

The rest of the field includes: Mickael Barzalona (France); Colin Keane (Ireland), making his IJC debut; and Karis Teetan, Vincent Ho and Matthew Poon (Hong Kong).

 

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