The winner of next month's International Jockeys' Championship at Happy Valley will walk away with HK$500,000 after new international races sponsor Longines gave the series a much-needed prize-money boost.
Three new faces will contest the annual showpiece on December 5 - Hong Kong championship leader Zac Purton, this year's Caulfield Cup winner Craig Williams, and Frankel's jockey Tom Queally.
Last year, the rider scoring most points for first, second and third in the four IJC races received HK$200,000 and the runner-up got HK$100,000. But this year's winner will collect HK$500,000, the runner-up will get HK$200,000 and third will now receive HK$100,000, in addition to their usual riding percentages.
Prize-money distributed for the four races was lifted last year with a 30 per cent IJC premium, and that bonus has also been further boosted by 20 per cent for 2012, so the cheapest Class Four series legs will have stake money of more than HK$1 million.
Williams is new to the series but not to Happy Valley, having ridden more than 100 winners as a club jockey for several seasons, while Queally will be making his debut at the quirky circuit during the first week of his debut club-jockey stint.
Representing eight racing jurisdictions, the 12 jockeys include four past winners of the series in Douglas Whyte (2002, 2007 and 2008), France's Olivier Peslier (1998 and 2006) and Christophe Lemaire (2009 dead heat), and Briton Ryan Moore (2009 dead heat and 2010).
Matthew Chadwick will be the third Hong Kong representative as the leading Chinese jockey, and like Singapore's champion Brazilian rider Joao Moreira, British jockey William Buick, Japan's Yuichi Fukunaga and New Zealander James McDonald, this will not be his first IJC.
"The 2012 Longines IJC has a great line-up of global talent, one that befits a world-renowned contest," executive director of racing Bill Nader said. "This event is one of the most exciting in the Hong Kong racing calendar and an important event on the international stage."