Three Riders Seek Repeat in Hong Kong Jockey Competition

From the Hong Kong Jockey Club
As far as Frankie Dettori is concerned, the Hong Kong International Jockeys' Championship at Happy Valley "is growing bigger and bigger every year." Dettori made the statement on Monday afternoon, an hour or so following the allocations of horses for the 2001 edition of the championship, which will take place this coming Wednesday evening, December 12.

"You look at the names involved this year and the countries they represent, and you have to be impressed," Dettori said. "Olivier Peslier from France, Gary Stevens from the United States, Yutaka Take from Japan. These are the riders who regularly compete at the world's greatest racetracks"

Peslier won the inaugural HK International Jockeys' Championship in 1998. Dettori won it in 1999. Germany's premier rider, Andrasch Starke, won it last year. All three riders have returned to compete again in 2001. The championship is comprised of three legs -- the third, fourth and sixth races on Wednesday evening's card. Twelve jockeys representing ten countries will compete.

"It's a wonderful thing for spectators, and it's a great thing for us, because we work so hard in our individual areas during the year, and then get together in Hong Kong right at the end of it," said Dettori. "The championship races (two of which are run at 1650 meters, the other at 1800 meters; there are 1600 meters in a mile) are just the right distances. Nobody really gets an advantage from the barrier draw."

Peslier's mounts this year, Blessing's Partner, Successful Spirit and Born Dragon, will break from the seventh, first and sixth barrier spots, respectively. Dettori's mounts, Noble Boy, Super Splendid and Kindred Spirits, will break from slots five, two and seven. Starke's mounts, Telecom Prince, Romantic Venture and Huangdi, will break from slots nine, twelve and one.

Points are allocated to the top five finishers in each race: 12 points for winning; six points for coming in second; four points for coming in third; three points for coming in fourth; and two points for coming in fifth. The jockey with the most points at the end of the competition is awarded top prize of HK$200,000. The second-place finisher receives HK$100,000.

Felix Coetzee, one of three jockeys representing Hong Kong, will ride in the championship for the first time this year. "It's really an honour to be invited," Coetzee said. "I've ridden against guys like Frankie and Mick Kinane before, but never in a competition such as this. Hey, I'm pleased, proud and excited to be part of it."

The complete list of riders in this year's HK International Jockeys' Championship and the countries they represent are as follows:
Felix Coetzee, Hong Kong
Kevin Darley, United Kingdom
Frankie Dettori, United Arab Emirates
Shane Dye , New Zealand
Mick Kinane, Ireland
Eddy Lai, Hong Kong
Damien Oliver, Australia
Olivier Peslier, France
Andrasch Starke, Germany
Gary Stevens, United States
Douglas Whyte, Hong Kong
Yutaka Take, Japan