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Prebble takes up the challenge



photography by SMG

Australian Brett Prebble joins two other Hong Hong-based riders, South African Douglas Whyte and local Derek Leung Ka-chun, in completing the riding field for the Longines International Jockey Challenge at Happy Valley on Wednesday, December 9.

Nine invited jockeys were named last week for the four-race challenge that is a strong lead-in to Longines' international meeting that has four Group 1 races at Sha Tin on Sunday, December 13.

Hong Kong's reigning champion and runaway leader this season, Joao Moreira, was on the first list, and the final spots for the next two on the 2015-16 premiership ladder and the leading Chinese rider, were up in the air until the cut-off time, Wednesday's Happy Valley meeting.

After the eight-race card, Whyte (0-5 on the night) and Prebble (1-6) has 18 winners for the season, holding out Australian Zac Purton (1-8) and Irishman Neil Callan (2-6), on 17.

Leung (1-6), on eight, is the leading local. The 27-year-old will compete in his first IJC. He won the Asian Young Guns Challenge in 2010.

This will be 38-year-old Prebble's fourth IJC, with his best finish a second in 2000, just after he won the first of two straight Melbourne premierships. His biggest win came on a flying visit home in 2012 — the Emirates Melbourne Cup on Green Moon.

He has been based in Hong Kong since 2002, and has been runner-up six times to Whyte in the HK premiership. In 2009-10 he lost 100-99.

Whyte competed in 14 consecutive IJCs for three wins (2002, '07 and '08) before missing last year. He was HK's premier jockey 13 seasons on end before Purton took his crown in 2013-14, with Moreira runner-up and Whyte third.

Moreira won in 2014-15, with Purton second and Whyte third again.

Those three share the HK single-meeting record of six wins. On December 9 they and Leung will compete against these internationals:

Hugh Bowman (Australia): three-time champion jockey in Sydney, with 47 G1 wins.

Maxine Guyon (France): winner of 26 G1 races including five on Europe's champion miler Solow this year; rode Flintshire to win last year's Vase.

James McDonald (New Zealand): winner of the Sydney premiership in 2013-14; Two-time champion in New Zealand.

Keita Tosaki (Japan): reigning champion jockey in Japan; had more than 2300 wins.

Gavin Lerena (SouthAfrica): reigning champion jockey in South Africa; two-time South African Derby winner.

Ryan Moore (UK): three-time British champion jockey with more than 2000 wins, 65 at G1 level; Longine's World's Best Jockey Award winner in 2014; two-time IJC winner (2009 and 2010).

Silvestre de Sousa (UK): reigning British champion jockey with 132 wins in 2015; won 2014 Dubai World Cup on African Story.

Victor Espinoza (US): rode world's top-rated horse American Pharoah to win the 2015 US Triple Crown, and the G1 Breeders' Cup Classic last month.

The rider with the highest points from the four races will receive HK$500,000, the runner-up $200,000 and HK$100,000. (There are about HK$5.5 to the Australian dollar.)

The Thoroughbred Magazine

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