Starke Takes Hong Kong Jockeys' Championship

If Wednesday's action at Happy Valley Race Course in Hong Kong is any indication, Germany's Caitano and Samum could top their respective divisions in Sunday's Hong Kong International Races. The reason? Their jockey, Andrasch Starke, faced 13 of the world's top riders in the International Jockeys' Championship Races, he managed to top them in two of the competition's three legs, and in turn, win the whole event.

After the opening ceremonies and corresponding fireworks were through, 14 international jockeys mounted their horses for the first of three races comprising the championship.

Starke's first mount, Po On Power, won the third race as the longshot and paid $182. His mount for the fourth race, Smart Horse, wasn't in the fight early on, which left Australian jockey Brett Prabble to focus on his horse, Successful Spirit, who paid $56.50 for his win. Trailing Successful Spirit was Frankie Dettori, aboard Simon's Decision, and Oliver Peslier, rider of Sound Gallop.

Going into the last race, Preble and Starke were tied with 12 points each for their wins, with Dettori an extremely close third. However, Starke took care of that with another win, this time aboard Millennium Supreme.

Gray, rainy skies were the order of the early morning, but the likes of a Japanese superstar, Yutaka Take warmed up the fans. Take got a celebrity's welcome, complete with snapping flashes, as he entered Hong Kong's Conrad Hotel Wednesday. His best finish was third aboard Happy Champ in the sixth race (the last of the jockey's races).

Take notwithstanding, on-track attendance was down from last year's International Jockeys' day. Almost 17,000 were out this year in the drizzle. Last year the number was closer to 25,000 on hand to watch. The USA representative, Kent Desormeaux, was unplaced in all three jockey championship races. However, he will have four more chances Sunday at Sha Tin, where he will ride in each of the four Hong Kong International Races.