It was gloves on and go to your corners yesterday as the 12 combatants in tonight's Cathay Pacific International Jockeys' Championship at Happy Valley shaped up, with their collective enthusiasm for the ever-widening concept palpable. Jockeys donned boxing gloves bearing their names and national flags and were good-naturedly itching to try the equipment out. Irishman Jamie Spencer, whom favourite Douglas Whyte has nominated as one of the men to beat tonight, said the proliferation of all the world jockey series' had put a different slant on things for the top European riders at the end of their season and coming into winter. 'I've just come from the one in Japan and I rode in the new South African series before that and there's quite a few of them now,' he said. 'They all have their own character. Mauritius is a very tight track and you have to watch yourself . 'But there's another even trickier one in Barbados and everyone prays before they go out to ride, which has shaken a few of the boys up when they go there for the first time.' In recent weeks the riders have been in demand for a series of events in Japan, Mauritius, South Africa and now Hong Kong and Australian Damien Oliver said he would even like to see the idea expanded. 'I guess there'd be a lot of thinking to do about how to programme them, but it wouldn't be a bad idea to have them around the world as a kind of circuit throughout the year,' he said. 'It could be something that finishes here with a global winner and if you could get most of the same guys competing, it would take the luck of the draw factor down a bit. 'When it's just a few races, the horses you've drawn means so much.If you ride one winner here in Hong Kong, you're in with a chance but you can draw three without much hope.' Executive director of racing Bill Nader said there would be certain times of the year when it would be impossible to get jockeys from certain jurisdictions to participate. 'Maybe the way to go would be more like a nation against nation series with teams of jockeys, like the Shergar Cup in England. But it's an idea that certainly deserves some examination,' he said. With Spencer drawing in-form rides in Classic Reunion for John Moore and Mainland Shuttle for Tony Cruz, as well as a John Size-trained outsider in Perfect Match, Whyte said the Irishman had to be one of the favourites. Oddsmakers for the Jockey Challenge, which will involve only the championship races tonight, posted Whyte as the 3-1 favourite yesterday. 'The more I look at my rides, the more I think that Rewarding Star has a good chance and I think Royal Portrait would be one of the horses to beat in his race whoever drew him,' he said. 'Bobo Win is not getting any younger. .'If he can get me on the scoreboard in the first leg, I'll be happy with him.'