'It Could All Happen Again': Marquand A Live Chance In IJC Title Defence

Tom Marquand accepts a souvenir helmet from Hong Kong Jockey Club CEO Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges | HKJC photo

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The Longines International Jockeys' Championship (IJC) is the premier event of its kind in the world, and with good reason, as it brings together 12 of the most-accomplished riders from all corners of the globe vying for the winner's share of the HK$800,000 (£81,120/$102,320) prizemoney on offer.

The IJC, the true start of Longines Hong Kong International Races festivities, takes place annually at iconic Happy Valley Racecourse on Hong Kong Island, its tight turns and unique configuration offering up additional challenges, especially for jockeys based outside of Hong Kong.

Britain's Tom Marquand is one of four previous IJC winners in the mix Wednesday evening, joining Ryan Moore, Zac Purton and Karis Teetan, and looks to record his second victory in the event. The 25-year-old reinsman, whose wife Hollie Doyle finished on the IJC podium in 2020 (third) and again in 2021 (second) and also takes her chances this time around, is looking forward to perhaps winning the title outright, after sharing the spoils with Silvestre de Sousa 12 months ago.

“Last year was a bit turbulent but it's fantastic to be back,” said Marquand, who just last month won his first Breeders' Cup race in his first ride aboard Big Evs (Ire) (Blue Point {Ire}) in the Grade I Juvenile Turf Sprint. “It was great to win with Silvestre. You'd always rather win it on your own, but it's better to take it home with someone else than not at all.

“It looks like I've got a good enough book of rides that if things fall right it could all happen again, but it's a tough evening of racing and it's highly competitive.”

Marquand has two of his rides in the four-race competition for trainer Caspar Fownes, who has posted more wins at Happy Valley than any other trainer, and one each for Golden Sixty (Aus) (Medaglia d'Oro)'s conditioner Francis Lui and Ricky Yiu. The latter sends out top-weighted and 79-rated Splendid Living (Ire) (Starspangledbanner {Aus}) in the third leg–carded as race seven–a Class 3 (80-60) over the 1650 metres. The 6-year-old gelding has a record of 4-3-1 from 10 runs over course and distance, but will need his best with the big weight and a tricky draw in 10.

Doyle is one of two females in the field and is joined British transplant and now Australian-based Rachel King. The 33-year-old showed that she could mix it with foreign riders in Japan's World All-Stars Jockeys, going down by a point to Mirai Iwata.

“Last time I was here I went and watched some races at Happy Valley, I'd just ridden in an amateur ladies' flat race in Macau,” King said.” So, it's been a bit of a journey to where I am now.

“I'm really looking forward to it, hopefully I'll have a few decent rides in there as well. Zac (Purton) was giving me a few little pointers, there are plenty of good people to learn from. I'll just try to get as much information as I can.”

Kazakhstan-born Bauyrzhan Murzabayev also makes his first IJC appearance off a strong season in France, during which he rode 60 winners–including 12 in black-type competition–for the legendary Andre Fabre. Like Marquand and Doyle, the four-time German and three-time Czech champion, jets in from Japan, where he is riding on a short-term contract for the second straight season.

“I am very lucky to have spent a year riding for Andre Fabre, who for me is a great trainer,” says Murzabayev. “I learned a lot from him and it was a good experience.

“I think I learn new tracks and places pretty quickly. But if somebody had told me 10 years ago 'you will be riding in all these top races,' I'm not sure I would have believed them.”

Also participating are Moore, James McDonald, Mickael Barzalona and Yuga Kawada from overseas, while Lyle Hewitson and Vincent Ho join Purton and Teetan in representing Hong Kong.

The IJC begins with the evening's fourth race at Happy Valley at 8.10pm local time (12.10pm GMT, 7.10am US Eastern Time). Click here for the race card.

 

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