THE horses might seem like the main attraction of the Hong Kong International Races, but anyone who’s seen the local’s thirst for racing knows the jockeys are, for all intents and purposes, rockstars at Sha Tin.
Whether its ex-Aussie Zac Purton, the “Magic Man” Joao Moreira or even the soon-to-be racing resident Pierre-Charles Boudot, the hoops in Hong Kong are larger than life characters that can draw wagers on their elects based on name-value alone.
We took a look at the four must-follow jockeys heading into the HKIR, who all should be right in the mix for the Jockeys Challenge title on Sunday.
Hong Kong International Races odds
The winner of the International Jockeys Challenge at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, Purton brings his best form into the most important Hong Kong meet of the year.
Purton extracted every ounce out of a book of rides he described as “a bit of a disaster”, so we are looking forward to what the star hoop can deliver aboard a number of key elects in the main races of the day.
Last year the ex-Aussie recorded two group one wins on HKIR day, including partnering the $6 hope at Ladbrokes Beauty Only, which is competing in the Hong Kong Mile.
You don’t get the nickname “The Magic Man” for no reason, and Moreira will be out to prove his wizardry on Sunday afternoon.
The Brazilian was in red-hot form on Wednesday night, claiming the opening three races at Happy Valley in spectacular fashion. The 33-year-old went on to claim two more seconds on the night, completing a brilliant night of racing in Hong Kong.
Moreira lifts a cog at Sha Tin, so keep an eye out for all the Magic Man’s rides throughout the day – if he gets hot, he stays hot.
The three-time English flat racing jockey of the year Ryan Moore is without question one of the best riders in the world, but one of the jurisdictions he struggles to find his best form in is Hong Kong.
The 34-year-old again struggled to make an impact in the International Jockeys Challenge, managing just the single placing and a fourth across the entire night. We believe typically jet-setting Moore may actually benefit from the lacklustre night however, as it gives him more time to adjust to the local conditions.
You can never count a champion out, and we are backing Moore in to deliver some winners this Sunday.
Record-breaking French young gun Pierre-Charles Boudot will be out to show the world he means business in the final major meeting of 2017.
Boudot – who will join the Hong Kong jockey roster from New Year’s Day – had a decent night in the International Jockeys Challenge, claiming a win and a second placing.
The 24-year-old was a dominant force in France, winning back-to-back Golden Whips, claiming an astonishing 300 wins in the season, 74 better than the next-best Golden Whip winner in recorded history.
The kid is a star in his home country and he can etch his name further into racing folklore if he has a quality HKIR.
Given the French form, who are we to doubt him?