Hong Kong Preview: International Jockey's Championship

December 5th, 2023

Hong Kong’s International racing week begins on the Wednesday before the major Group 1 races with the International Jockeys’ Championship, where eight leading riders from around the world take on four of the best Hong Kong-based jockeys for the title over four races.

The visiting jockeys face a particularly tough task at Happy Valley, an unusually tight track with a stretch of barely three-sixteenths of a mile. But many of the riders have taken part before, thus the disadvantage isn’t quite so great. Here is a look at the four races in question.

Race 4, 7:10 a.m. ET: Jockeys’ Championship First Leg, Class 4, 1,000 meters (about five furlongs)

In an even line-up, the one to beat may be #4 Galvanic for Englishman Tom Marquand, last year’s co-winner. Galvanic put up a brave effort from a wide draw last start to finish sixth, following two second-place finishes, and he should appreciate gate three here. #9 Diamond Soars should run well for Vincent Ho, while #5 Gorgeous Vitality and #12 Super Fast Dragon are others with appeal.

  • $10 win/$20 show: #4 Galvanic
  • $1 quinella: box 4, 5, 9, 12

Race 5, 7:40 a.m. ET: Second Leg, Class 4, 1,650 meters (about one mile 44 yards)

All the money here is likely to be on the much-improved #4 M Unicorn, winner of two of his last three, and Ryan Moore. M Unicorn can’t be left out of any exotics but if you want some value try #8 Killer Instinct. He was forced into a mid-race move last start and did well to hang on for second and an easier trip for Marquand could see him in the money. Others to consider include #1 Wide Blue Yonder, #3 Snowalot, and #11 Sure Joyful.

  • $10 win/$20 show: #8 Killer Instinct
  • $2 trifecta: 4, 8 with 4, 8, 11 with 1, 3, 4, 8, 11

Race 7, 8:40 a.m. ET: Third Leg, Class 3, 1,650 meters

Chances are that Mickael Barzalona’s mount, #4 Quantum Patch, will be a short-priced favorite. He was mighty impressive rounding up a Class 3 field last start, beating #7 E Legend and #9 Storm Legend. He’s up eight pounds in the ratings as a result, but he’s a strong chance again. The toughest could be #11 D Star (Yuga Kawada), a solid second over seven furlongs at Sha Tin last start and likely to be better for the step up in trip, and #10 Flying Mojito (Hollie Doyle), who should be improved after finishing sixth in the same race.

  • $10 win: #4 Quantum Patch
  • $1 exacta: 4 with 7, 9, 10, 11

Race 8, 9:10 a.m. ET: Fourth Leg, Class 3, 1,200 meters (about six furlongs)

There’s a lot of form in this race. Draws will probably be crucial, which gives #11 Kaholo Angel a chance to win back-to-back races. Zac Purton should find a good position from gate 2 on the son of Havana Grey and looks tough to roll. #9 Gameplayer Elite stormed home from well back to finish fourth at his last start, and if James McDonald can get him a more forward position here he should run well. #1 Lightning Bolt, #5 Tomodachi Kokoroe, and #10 Toronado Phantom also have claims.

  • $10 win/$30 show: #11 Kaholo Angel
  • $2 trifecta: 9, 11 with 9, 10, 11 with 1, 5, 9, 10, 11