Hong Kong-raised ace will compete in the International Jockeys' Championship The Jockey Club has gained an impressive new recruit for Wednesday's Cathay Pacific International Jockeys' Championship, with this year's Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Stewart Elliott replacing last year's title runner-up Victor Espinoza as America's representative. Attracting Elliott to the series is doubly special because the 39-year-old grew up in Hong Kong when his father was riding here, immediately after racing went professional in the early 1970s. Elliott, the leading rider at Philadelphia Park in recent seasons, has over 3,300 career victories to his credit and achieved worldwide recognition this year for his association with brilliant colt Smarty Jones, winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, but beaten as favourite in the third leg of the Triple Crown. The Smarty Jones show put racing back on the front pages of American newspapers and brought the sport more favourable publicity than it had enjoyed since the 16-win sequence of Horse of the Year Cigar in the mid 1990s. Elliott will arrive in Hong Kong right at the top of his game, having won the Grade One Frank J. de Francis Memorial Dash at Pimlico on November 20, and the Remsen Stakes (Grade 2) at Aqueduct one week later. The announcement of Elliott's debut in the International Jockeys' Championship softened the disappointment of learning that two-times series winner Frankie Dettori had withdrawn. Dettori has not ridden in a race since being suspended for causing interference in the Melbourne Cup on November 2. His place on Wednesday night will be taken by another Hong Kong favourite in Mick Kinane, who returns to the SAR for his 17th summer riding stint and will certainly add to the 165 winners he's piloted here in that time. Although Kinane has never won the IJC, he has won many of the big prizes in Hong Kong racing, including the 2002 HK Cup (Precision), the Hong Kong Derby (twice), the Hong Kong Gold Cup and the Hong Kong Vase. The IJC lineup was completed with the selection of Eddie Lai Wai-ming as the leading local representative. Lai, 30, had been engaged in a close duel with Howard Cheng Yue-tin, with the leader on the new-season jockeys' premiership being given the right to represent Hong Kong. Cheng had earned it in 2003 and won one of the three big-night races with a flawless ride on Shanghai Friend. But Lai put a repeat beyond Cheng's reach when he landed the opening event yesterday with A-Tack. 'I've been thinking about this for the last couple of weeks and knew I had a good chance after riding two winners at Sha Tin, but today's win with A-Tack was the clincher,' Lai said. 'I'm very pleased. It will be wonderful to be able to come here on Wednesday night, and ride for Hong Kong. That is something special for any local jockey - a great honour. I am so happy.' This is not Lai's debut in the International Jockeys Series. In 2001, he was also the Hong Kong representative and was placed in one of the three races on the big night. That year, the series was won by Dettori. The full lineup: Mirco Demuro (Italy), Shane Dye (New Zealand), Stewart Elliott (US), Kieren Fallon (GB), Mick Kinane (Ireland), defending champion Damien Oliver (Australia), Christophe Soumillon (France), Jamie Spencer (Ireland), Andreas Suborics (Germany), Yutake Take (Japan), Douglas Whyte (Hong Kong) and Eddie Lai Wai-ming (Hong Kong).