Three Brazilians will ride in next month’s Longines International Jockeys’ Championship at Happy Valley with teenage sensation Leandro Henrique joining champion riders Joao Moreira and Silvestre de Sousa in an all-star line-up.
At just 18, Henrique has already taken Brazilian racing by storm; he rode 202 winners in his first full season (2015-16) to win the Rio senior riding title as an apprentice, was second last season and is a runaway leader in the 2017-18 championship.
Among Henrique’s 400-plus winners have been victories in the Grande Premio Cruzeiro do Sul (Brazilian Derby) and the Copa ABCPCC Classica Mathias Machline on Emperor Roderic.
Henrique will ride against his countrymen in the four-race series on December 6 as 12 jockeys compete for HK$800,000 in prize money, with HK$500,000 going to the first placegetter.
Hong Kong-based riders will take four of the spots, but Henriqueand De Sousa are two of the eight overseas-based riders completing one of the best groups ever assembled for the event.
Two-time IJC winner and reigning World’s Best Jockey Award winner Ryan Moore is back after finishing second in the last two editions.
Popular Australian rider Hugh Bowman will be out to defend his title in what will be his fourth IJC appearance after a year where his partnership with wondermare Winx and her winning sequence lifted his profile to even greater heights.
Frenchman Pierre-Charles Boudot won his second title in his homeland last year with a European record of 300 wins and makes his IJC debut alongside American-based countryman Flavien Prat.
Japanese jockey Keita Tosaki returns for the third consecutive year after finishing third at the previous two IJCs, while Italian Cristian Demuro will also make his IJC debut.
Moreira (30 wins) and Zac Purton (27) seem assured of their places at the IJC, with the other two spots for Hong Kong-based riders still up for grabs.
Jockeys’ championship positions after the Happy Valley meeting on November 22 will decide which local rider and which club jockey get to represent Hong Kong.
Heading into the Happy Valley meeting on Wednesday, Karis Teetan (20 wins) led the way for the third position for club jockeys but a three-meeting suspension gives Nash Rawiller (15) a chance to secure the spot.
Derek Leung Ka-chun (11) has competed at the IJC for the past two years and led Keith Yeung Ming-lun for the coveted spot for freelance rider.