Winner Vincent Ho with his trophies at Happy Valley in Hong Kong
At Happy Valley Racecourse in Hong Kong on Wednesday night, Hong Kong local rider Vincent Ho won this year's edition of the Longines International Jockeys' Championship. With his 1 win and 2 thirds and 20 total points in the 4 race competition, he took home the winner's prize of HK$600,000 (US$76,802), as the first ever "homegrown" winner, a graduate of the Hong Kong Jockey Club's Apprentice Jockeys' School. Jockeys were awarded 12 points for a win, 6 points for second, and 4 for third, and competed in four handicap races around the tight right-handed 7 furlong triangular turf course on Hong Kong Island. Fellow local rider Zac Purton finished second with 18 points (1 win and 1 second) followed by Australia's Rachel King with 16 (1 win and 1 third). Lyle Hewitson also had 16 points (2 seconds and 1 third) but loses the tiebreaker by lacking a win.
Rachel King wins the first race of the competition.
In the first leg, a 1000m (5 furlong) one-turn sprint, Karis Teetan set the pace with 11-2 Super Commander chased by Vincent Ho aboard 13-2 Diamond Soars and Douglas Whyte and 20-1 Harmony Fier. In the stretch Rachel King aboard 9-1 Oversubscribed came out fro room and rallied to outfinish Harmony Fire by 3/4 length. It was another 1/2 length back to Diamond Soars third. The next two legs were run at 1650m (just over 1 mile). In the second leg, Zac Purton set the pace aboard 31-1 Tattenham but his mount tired in the lane, as Ryan Moore aboard 8-5 favorite M Unicorn rallied to win by a length over Lyle Hewitson's ride 5-1 Red Hare King. It was another length back to Vincent Ho riding 5-2 second choice Sure Joyful. The third leg saw Germany's 4 time champion rider Bauyrzhan Murzabayev set the pace on 10-1 E Legend before tiring late. Zac Purton, 5th early aboard 8-1 Silver Sonic, rallied to win by 1 1/2 lengths over 2-1 favorite Quantum Patch with Mickael Barzalona, with Hewitson's mount 9-1
Jockey Vincent Ho wins the final race of the competition to win the title from behind.
All Beauty another 2 lengths back in third. The final leg was the longest of the 4 races, a 1200m (6 furlong) event starting on the clubhouse turn. Vincent Ho sent 6-1 Tomodachi Kokoroe to the lead immediately and he held off Zac Purton riding 7-2 Kaholo Angel by 1/2 a length to secure the title in dramatic fashion. It was another 1 1/4 lengths back to Rachel King and 5-2 Toronado Phantom third.
King said after winning the first leg, ""He was probably the perfect start to riding here at Happy Valley. He's looked after me and did everything for me." At the end of the night she added, "I think it was a good first effort. The atmosphere at Happy Valley is unbelievable and I really enjoyed it."
Winning jockey Vincent Ho celebrates with the trophy.
After nailing down his first International Jockeys' Championship and his HK$600,000 (US$76,802) check, Ho said, "I was not aware (I had won) and I didn't even know about the points, I just kept riding every race to have a winning chance. I felt the track today favoured the front-runners a little bit so that definitely helped and of course (winning trainer David) Hayes' team did a great job and helped me win this. Christophe (Soumillon), Frankie (Dettori) and Ryan (Moore) were always my idols, right up until today, and I keep learning from those good jockeys, those good horsemen. There's still plenty to improve to (get to) their levels. Especially after a tough injury, coming back to win this, I'm really grateful for. Hopefully this will inspire more generations to come and the Hong Kong people especially. As the first homegrown winner of course I received plenty of support here and hopefully it will inspire more kids."
Vincent Ho is the regular rider of Golden Sixty who will run his final race on Sunday in the Hong Kong Mile (G1), which he won in 2020 and 2021 and was second last year.
Left: The participating jockeys at the opening ceremony for the Jockey Championship.