The Longines International Jockeys’ Championship (IJC) has seen a tie for the third time in its history, with Britain’s Tom Marquand and Brazilian Silvestre de Sousa sharing the spoils at Happy Valley on Wednesday night.
In one of the tightest-run IJCs the Valley has seen, four riders finished the competition equal on 12 points, but Marquand and De Sousa got the nod on countback because they each had a fourth place to their name.
Marquand snared his first IJC title at his third attempt after finishing second last year, while De Sousa – who was representing Hong Kong – added this year’s title to the one he landed in 2018.
“It’s just nice to be in this position and thanks to the Hong Kong Jockey Club for letting me in with a spot,” De Sousa said. “I’ve been working so hard since I got here, and I couldn’t be more thankful.”
De Sousa’s victory came aboard the Frankie Lor Fu-chuen-trained Adios in the final leg of the competition, while Marquand got the chocolates with Tony Cruz’s Winning Dragon in the third leg.
The 24-year-old said it was “amazing” to ride a winner for Hong Kong racing legend Cruz, and he was pinching himself after splitting the prize with De Sousa.
“To finish joint in front with Silvestre is pretty epic because he’s someone at home I’ve spent a lot of time looking up to,” Marquand said.
“He’s been a multiple champion jockey, and he’s the epitome of someone who works extremely hard and gets results because of that. It’s a huge honour to win it alongside him.
“It was a fantastic evening as usual. I really enjoyed being here the last couple of years, but you couldn’t help but feel it was only two-thirds of the way there and not the full go. Tonight having fans here was mega.”
Winning Dragon was saluting for the second consecutive run and some pre-race homework paid dividends for Marquand.
“To be fair to him last time, watching the replay, it looked like he had a mid-race fill-up and really got rolling late and hit the line hard, so I was keen to get a similar run,” Marquand said.
“He obviously got a good draw, which helped a lot, and it’s easy when you’re on the right horse.”
While they missed out on IJC glory because of the countback system, local stars Vincent Ho Chak-yiu and Derek Leung Ka-chun made their presence felt all the same with successes early in the competition.
The first IJC leg saw a local quinella, with Ho saluting aboard Handsome Rebel and Matthew Chadwick second atop Faribault.
The local theme continued in leg two, with super-sub Leung crossing the winning line first on the Francis Lui Kin-wai-trained Win Win Fighter.
Leung was parachuted into proceedings on Wednesday morning after French jockey Mickael Barzalona joined Jye McNeil and Yuga Kawada in being ruled out of the competition because of a Covid-19 positive.
“What can I say, I’m super lucky to be involved, and I’m lucky to get a good ride with a good draw. Everything was suitable for the horse and he just won,” Leung said.
While De Sousa and Marquand snared HK$350,000 each for their efforts, Ho and Leung didn’t go home empty-handed, pocketing HK$50,000 each as equal third placegetters.
The trainer’s bonus of HK$200,000 went home with Lor thanks to the victory of Adios and Free Foal’s third place.