South African flag bearer conspicuous by omission

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 November, 2012, 1:01am

We aren't here again, are we? Yet again, the Longines International Jockeys' Championship doesn't have a South African flag bearer - and before you shoot off that email, Douglas Whyte is representing Hong Kong, as he does every year. We have been harping on about this for … well, since betting turnover was on the slide and Iraq wasn't yet a war zone. So, yes, a successful campaign. Not.

But we did think progress had been made two years ago when Anton Marcus got the call-up - the only jockey in the past 10 years to ride in the annual Valley feature under the South African flag.

Which seems remiss, to say the least, given how important the South African jockeys have been in Hong Kong racing. No-one without South African citizenship has won the championship here since Tony Cruz's last title in 1995, yet in the last decade even Canada has had more IJC representatives, Chantal Sutherland and Emma-Jayne Wilson. American jockeys have been a regular occurrence, plenty of Japanese, French, Australian, British and Irish riders, even the occasional Italian, Austrian, New Zealander, Belgian or German.

The IJC is an idea that works and has improved with expansion to four races and a nice boost in stakes this year with the new sponsor. Taken as a whole through its history, as you see above, it has even been reasonably diverse (even if Hong Kong has provided one third of the field lately) but this one glaring error comes and goes every year unattended. Really, how hard can it be?


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