Group One stars Ryan Moore and Pierre-Charles Boudot round out the overseas roster for next month’s International Jockeys’ Championship as the Jockey Club unveils a new allocation system designed to help even up the competition.
Englishman Moore is chasing his third IJC title while Frenchman Boudot won the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe last year and they join fellow Europeans Tom Marquand, Hollie Doyle, Mickael Barzalona and William Buick as the visitors confirmed for the marquee event at Happy Valley on December 9.
Usually there are eight internationals competing against four Hong Kong-based riders, but there will be an even six-six split this season with Covid-19 restricting travel.
Joao Moreira, Zac Purton, Karis Teetan and Vincent Ho Chak-yiu are the first four locked in to represent the home side with the final two positions given to the next two highest-placed jockeys in the championship tables – minus apprentice Jerry Chau Chun-lok, who is not eligible for selection.
After some complaints about the allocation of rides, this year officials will use a new system designed to help even up the competition.
Previously, mounts have been handed out via a random ballot that takes into account each jockey’s minimum riding weight.
This time around, the club’s Jockey Challenge oddsmakers will create a book on each of the four races, then after the barriers are drawn, they will be plugged into a computer with the rides then allocated as evenly as possible.
The goal is to give every jockey an 8.33 per cent chance across the four races, or an average price of around $15 once accounting for the takeout rate.
So for example, if a rider is given an even-money chance in one race, their other three rides would have to be drawn from the perceived long shots.
The Jockey Club has also instituted other changes to make the event more competitive.
The prize money for the four contests has been increased by 20 per cent to encourage more owners and trainers to target them.
If there are more than 12 entries for a race, the handicappers will use their discretion to give preference to the horses who have shown the best recent form.
A bonus scheme for trainers has also been instituted which will pay HK$200,000, HK$100,000 and HK$50,000 respectively to the three handlers who achieve the highest number of points across the four races, using the same scale as employed for the jockeys.
The competition works on a points-based system with 12 points for a winner, six for a second and four for third.
At the end of the four races, the jockey with the most points receives HK$500,000 with second and third getting HK$200,000 and HK$100,000 respectively.
The visiting riders will undergo multiple Covid-19 tests before travelling to Hong Kong and upon arrival will go straight into their designated accommodation under strict quarantine to ensure no contact with the community.
They will also be under continuous medical surveillance by the Jockey Club’s chief medical officer – including daily tests – and on the night they will occupy a separate room from the Hong Kong-based jockeys.
The race for the final two Hong Kong slots looks to be a tight one with Alexis Badel looking good to secure one spot while Vagner Borges, Chad Schofield, Matthew Chadwick, Neil Callan and Derek Leung Ka-chun are also in the mix.
The two successful candidates will be confirmed after the Happy Valley meeting on Wednesday, November 25.