Melbourne Cup winner Jye McNeil will join Hong Kong’s riding ranks the week after this year’s edition of Australia’s iconic Group One race.
The Jockey Club has granted the 28-year-old Australian a short-term licence, which runs from November 7, to three days before Christmas.
McNeil won the 2020 Melbourne Cup (3,200m) aboard Joseph O’Brien-trained Twilight Payment at long-shot odds of $26 in the colours of the A$7.75 million two-mile handicap’s biggest fan, Lloyd Williams.
It was the second of McNeil’s four Group One career victories, with the lightweight Australian jockey’s other top-level triumphs occurring on Kings Will Dream in the 2019 Turnbull Stakes (2,000m), Homesman in the 2021 Australian Cup (2,000m) and I’m Thunderstuck in the 2021 Toorak Handicap (1,600m).
McNeil, who told Jockey Club officials his minimum riding weight is 115 pounds, has made giant strides in a relatively short time, winning not only 49 black type events since making his debut in 2011, but also Victoria’s metropolitan jockeys’ title and Scobie Breasley Medal in the 2021-2022 season.
Seventy-six city winners were more than enough for McNeil to dethrone Jamie Kah as Victoria’s champion jockey, while the state’s stewards voted for him to succeed Kah as the Scobie Breasley Medal recipient.
His arrival in Hong Kong next month will boost Australia’s representation in the Sha Tin and Happy Valley weighing rooms to three, with McNeil joining two of his older compatriots, Luke Currie and established superstar Zac Purton.
Included in McNeil’s 49 Pattern victories are two Listed successes for David Hayes – Super Titus in the 2019 Heatherlie Stakes (1,700m) and Taraayek in the 2019 Poseidon Stakes (1,100m) when the now Hong Kong-based handler was training in Australia.