Australia is set to have two representatives in the 2014 International Jockeys’ Championship this year, with both James McDonald and reigning champion Kerrin McEvoy invited to Hong Kong for the series.
If James McDonald can take his Spring Racing Carnival form with him, the superstar jockey will be unbeatable.
The Sydney-based jockey rode Shooting To Win to victory in the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) in October before partnering five winners during Melbourne Cup Week. He is no stranger to the series, travelling to Hong Kong in 2011 as a 19-year-old where he finished second.
He returned the following year for the Group 1 Champions Mile (1600m) at Sha Tin, where he partnered Xtension to victory.
McDonald has had a stellar year in the saddle, winning both the second and third richest races in Australia. He won the $4 million Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) with It’s A Dundeel before taking out the $3.5 million Group 1 Golden Slipper (1200m) on Mossfun.
Kerrin McEvoy will make the trip to Hong Kong alongside McDonald, keen to defend the International Jockeys’ Championship title he won in 2013.
“I went over and won it last year and they always invite the winner back which is nice,” McEvoy told Sky Racing.
“There’s a good line up of jockeys from around the world and I feel very privileged to go again.”
Joining McDonald and McEvoy in the race will be: Christophe Soumillon (France), Pat Smullen (Ireland), Yuichi Fukunaga (Japan), S’Manga Khumal (South Africa), Ryan Moore (UK), Richard Hughes (UK), Irad Ortiz (USA) and Zac Purton (Hong Kong).
McEvoy took a risk during the spring, deciding to go freelance after spending 12 years riding for Godolphin. It paid off however and the hoop went on to ride Lucia Valentina to victory in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) as well as a third placing in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m).
He has spent the majority of his time riding at Randwick and Rosehill rather than venturing out to Warwick Farm under his commitment to Godolphin.
“I’m still doing the same amount of work, just for different trainers now,” he said.
The International Jockeys’ Championship will run at Happy Valley on December 10 – four days before the Hong Kong International meeting at Sha Tin.
The ten jockeys will compete in the four-race series to earn the title of best international jockey.
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