Singapore International Jockeys Challenge
With less than a month to go to the inaugural Premier Gateway International Jockeys Challenge, 12 of the world’s best jockeys are all set to do battle in Singapore’s very first jockeys’ series.
Split into four Teams of three, the international line-up will vie for top honours in four selected races at a night meeting held at Kranji on Tuesday, 25 September, 2018.
Top Brazilian jockey and former Kranji favourite Joao Moreira will no doubt be one of the main drawcards as he returns to his old stomping ground as Team Asia’s armband- wearer.
Freshly-licensed in Japan, the former four-time Singapore champion jockey and three-time Hong Kong champion jockey will have as teammates the two Singapore table-toppers, Vlad Duric in the senior ranks and Troy See in the junior ranks.
Currently leading the Singapore jockeys’ log, Duric, who hails from Melbourne, Australia, was twice runner-up to Moreira in 2010 and 2011 before he claimed his first Singapore title last year. See will add local flavour to Team Asia, as he will be the only homegrown rider to have gained a spot for the host country.
Moreira will certainly not be the only headline act to the glittering contest organised by South Africa’s Phumelela Gaming & Leisure and Tabcorp, together with their international subsidiary Premier Gateway International (PGI), and hosted by the Singapore Turf Club.
The three other teams, namely Team Australia, Team UK and Team South Africa will not be flying to Kranji for just fun and games, if the firepower in their squads is anything to go by.
Team Australia will be captained by none other than the 2017 Longines World’s Best Jockey Hugh Bowman, also better known as world champion mare Winx’s regular partner. The four-time Sydney champion jockey will have fellow Sydney top gun Kerrin McEvoy and leading Melbourne rider Mark Zahra as teammates.
At his first visit to the Lion City, McEvoy, who was once second jockey at Godolphin to Frankie Dettori, is a winner of more than 60 Group 1 races worldwide, including two Melbourne Cups – Brew (2000) and Almandin (2016). Originally from Western Australia, Zahra is not as well known, but with more than 1,100 winners to his name, including 11 at Group 1 level, he has established himself among the Top 10 in Melbourne.
Bowman will not be the only Shergar Cup winner in the line-up. Team UK’s flagbearer will be none other than the victor of this year’s annual Ascot jockeys’ series, Hayley Turner, one of the best female jockeys to have graced the English turf in recent years.
She will be joined by Rab Havlin and PJ McDonald, two of UK’s finest ambassadors. They may not be household names like a Ryan Moore or William Buick, but both have recently been creeping up into the top echelon of the fiercely competitive UK circuit.
Last but not least, Team South Africa will carry the hopes of the organising country. The selection of their team members was simple; bring the top three on the national log.
Lyle Hewitson, Muzi Yeni and Aldo Domeyer finished in that order in the just-concluded South African racing season at the end of July, and it stood to reason the trio of young riders would be the ones to wear the Rainbow Nation colours at Kranji.
Regarded as one of South Africa’s brightest stars, Hewitson scored a landslide victory in the South African 2017/18 jockeys’ championship on 185 winners, becoming the first apprentice jockey since the legendary Michael Muis Roberts in the early 70s to claim the national title. Runner-up Yeni steered home 149 winners while Domeyer finished third on 137 winners.
Those three jockeys many not have extensive overseas experience or have ever ridden in Singapore for that matter, but South Africa’s changing of the guard will be well and truly present at Kranji to showcase their talent to the world.
In line with the standard concept of international jockeys’ series, the PGI Jockeys Challenge will be decided by a point system where each jockey will earn points based on their finishing position in each race, up to 10th place, while points will also be aggregated per team as follows:
In addition, a jockey with no ride in a race will be allotted seven points.
The jockey (international individual champion) and team (international team champion) who accrue the most points will win the contest.
Rides will be determined by a draw shortly after declaration time in a format which will give all jockeys fair and equal chances to obtain a mix of rides with reasonable chances.
Four sets of ballot draws will be effected with horses divided into two pools – A and B (as predetermined by a panel made up of handicappers and/or form experts), with the A pool comprising the first six ‘best-rated’ or ‘best-seeded’ horses and B the remaining six. Jockeys will also be split into two pools – A and B.
Hence, the six jockeys in the ‘A’ pool will draw their horses from the ‘A’ pool for the first race or Leg. Similarly the other six jockeys in B pool will draw their rides from the ‘B’ pool. The roles are reversed in the next Leg i.e the six ‘A’ jockeys draw from the ‘B’ pool of horses and vice-versa.
The same procedure is repeated for the third and fourth races, with the rationale behind this system aiming at giving each and every jockey a fair mix of rides throughout the contest.
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