Callan ends Hong Kong stint on a high

Neil Callan ended his Hong Kong stint on a winning note as Helene Wisdom Star struck at Happy Valley.

The jockey partnered his first Hong Kong winner in 2010 before moving full time four years later, but he confirmed last month he would not reapply for his licence and would return to Britain for his family at the end of the season.

Wednesday’s Happy Valley card marked the end of the Hong Kong campaign and Callan ensured a glorious send off as he steered the Tony Cruz-trained Helene Wisdom Star to a short head victory in the Wong Nai Chung Handicap .

The four-year-old, who raced as Aerclub for Henry de Bromhead in Ireland before his Hong Kong transfer, was a 283rd winner in the jurisdiction for Callan.

He said: “I’ve proved tonight, on the last night, that I can hold my nerve and control the emotion and still ride at my best.

“Now I go home for my family – it’s all about my family. It was brilliant to win.”

Callan has signalled his intention to ride again in Britain on his return.

Golden Sixty hangs on for fourth successive Group One

Golden Sixty was made to pull out all the stops to notch a fourth successive Group One triumph in the FWD Champions Mile at Sha Tin.

Hong Kong’s latest superstar was chasing a 17th victory overall for trainer Francis Lui and jockey Vincent Ho, but his two most recent wins had not been completely straightforward.

The five-year-old’s saddle slipped when holding on by a head to win the Stewards Cup in January, while he just prevailed by a short-head from Furore on his most recent appearance in the 10-furlong Hong Kong Gold Cup.

Returning to a mile, Golden Sixty was a hot favourite to extend his winning streak – and looked set to score decisively after sweeping to the front early in the home straight.

However, More Than This built up a head of steam in the final furlong and in the end there was just a head between the pair at the line.

Ho said: “He has never been chased and we learnt today that he still can fight when something chases him, not just when he is doing the chasing, which is good.

“That was amazing (to have a crowd), a big thanks to all the fans today who came out, it makes such a difference, the atmosphere and everything is so much different.

“It’s been a good season, seven races for Golden Sixty and I’m happy for him to win this, hopefully he will have a break now until next season, he had a couple of tough runs these past two.”

Daring Tact had to make do with minor honours at Sha Tin
Daring Tact had to make do with minor honours at Sha Tin (Hong Kong Jockey Club)

Ho completed a big-race double in the following FWD QEII Cup aboard Loves Only You.

Yoshito Yahagi’s mare led home a Japanese one-two-three-four in the Group One contest, with Glory Vase finishing second, Daring Tact third and Kiseki fourth.

Daring Tact – winner of the Fillies’ Triple Crown in her homeland in 2020 – was a hot favourite, but had to make do with minor honours behind Loves Only You, who was last seen finishing third to John and Thady Gosden’s Mishriff in the Dubai Sheema Classic.

“I can’t describe it,” Ho said of his big-race double.

“I don’t dare to look back until the finish line, but she was amazing. I’m grateful that the Japanese connections asked me to ride her.

“The QEII Cup is one of my dream goals as well as the Derby and the December internationals, a QEII win means a lot.

“It’s amazing today with Golden Sixty and Loves Only You. It’s definitely one of the highlights, I’ll enjoy it for sure.”

The other Group One prize on the card, the Chairman’s Sprint, went to Richard Gibson’s Wellington, with Alexis Badel the winning rider.

A total of 5,179 people were in attendance at Sha Tin, and Gibson was thrilled to see his charge triumph in front of a crowd.

He said: “It’s fantastic to see the fans back today and I’m just delighted for the owners. They were one of the first owners in my stable when I came here. They’ve been very loyal and supportive and it’s a great satisfaction to source and deliver such a great horse.”

Harry Bentley on the mark at Happy Valley

Harry Bentley opened his account in Hong Kong on Wednesday, steering Vincy to victory at Happy Valley.

Bentley was riding at just his second meeting since his move to Hong Kong, and his first at the distinctive track, as he teamed up with the Douglas Whyte-trained Vincy to claim the 11-furlong Pottinger Handicap.

“To come here to Happy Valley and win on my first ride is fantastic – it’s an amazing place,” said Bentley.

“He (Vincy) jumped nicely enough and I was always happy with where I was positioned. I was able to follow Joao Moreira around and there was probably no better place to be.

“He hit a bit of a flat spot and I had to wind him up a bit, but three furlongs out he started to travel well with me and I was very happy with how we came home down the outside.

“Douglas (Whyte) has been fantastic. In my first two meetings here he’s given me a good bit of support and I’m really appreciative of those opportunities coming from someone like him.

“I was able to ride out for him on the first morning that I was here before racing at Sha Tin last Saturday and he spent time with me to walk the track.

“I know nothing about the place and he’s provided me with some really valuable insight. He’s a multiple champion jockey, so there’s no better man to get instructions off.”

Harry Bentley raring to go for Hong Kong debut

Harry Bentley will make a high-profile start to his spell in Hong Kong as he has six rides booked for Saturday’s meeting at Sha Tin.

After completing his mandatory 21-day Covid quarantine, Bentley is in demand as he kicks off a stint in Hong Kong, which is due to run to the end of the season in July.

Bentley will have his first ride aboard Telecom Missile in the six-furlong opener for trainer Dennis Yip, before partnering two for Douglas Whyte and one apiece for Frankie Lor, Michael Chang and Tony Cruz.

He said: “It was definitely a surprise, but a very welcome surprise, I’ve already said it a few times, but I always really wanted to come out here at one stage and give it a go because I feel like I fit the mould quite well, I’ve got some good international experience and my weight’s really good.

Harry Bentley will be in action at Sha Tin on Saturday
Harry Bentley will be in action at Sha Tin on Saturday (PA)

“I’m chomping at the bit, I feel good and obviously I haven’t sat on a horse since I’ve been here which is close to a month now, but that won’t be a problem and now seems the perfect time to give it a go, I have good experience behind me but I’m still quite young also.

“I’m under no illusions in how competitive this place is, it’s a very good pool of jockeys to compete against and I’m managing my expectations, but at the same time I want to give it my all – you have to be confident in your own abilities.

“If I came in here with no confidence, I may as well not bother, I’m definitely coming in with managed expectations, but at the same time I’m confident in my abilities.”

I’ve been abroad every single year since I started riding for the last 11 seasons

The 28-year-old is a six-times champion jockey in Qatar, but counts rides in France, Germany, Canada, America and Dubai on his CV.

He said: “I started going away to the Middle East when I was only 18 years old and I’ve been abroad every single year since I started riding for the last 11 seasons.

“I’ve ridden a lot in Dubai and Qatar, but also all around the Middle East in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.”

“I had a great time in Qatar and I do think my experience from there will stand me in good stead because it’s quite a small oval track which is only around a mile around, it’s not quite as tight as Happy Valley, but it’s a tight track where it’s very pace and speed dependent.

“You have to be very positive from the stalls and I think that’ll give me a bit of an edge rather than having only arrived with experience from the United Kingdom.”

Harry Bentley enjoyed Group One glory with Limato
Harry Bentley enjoyed Group One glory with Limato (Simon Cooper/PA)

Bentley began his career with Gary Moore, riding his first winner in 2010, and he enjoyed a fruitful association with the Henry Candy-trained Limato a few seasons ago, winning the July Cup and Prix de la Foret in 2016.

“I think he (Limato) was very important for my career. It’s always good to be able to perform on the big stage in Group Ones and he was definitely important for me and my breakthrough winning Group Ones but not only that, he was just such a good horse to be associated with,” he said.

Ryan Moore, William Buick and Silvestre de Sousa have all ridden in Hong Kong, and Bentley has had the benefit of their advice ahead of his Sha Tin debut.

He added: “I spoke at length with Ryan Moore, I’ve known him for a while through riding and I was apprentice to his father Gary and the reason I was first ever able to go to Dubai was because Ryan helped me get over there.”

Ryan Moore celebrates international double in Hong Kong

Ryan Moore ended his year on a high on Sunday as a first victory in the Longines Hong Kong Sprint completed a career ‘Grand Slam’ of wins at the big international meeting at Sha Tin.

Moore had earlier struck for a third time in the Hong Kong Vase courtesy of the Aidan O’Brien-trained Mogul, before the Japanese-trained Danon Smash gave him a landmark success.

Moore had previously partnered Snow Fairy (2010) and Maurice (2016) to Hong Kong Cup wins, while Maurice also landed the Hong Kong Mile with the three-time British champion jockey aboard in 2015.

Zac Purton, Joao Moreira and Gerald Mosse are the other three jockeys to have completed the quartet of HKIR victories.

Speaking after the win on Mogul, Moore said: “He’s a horse that we always expected a lot from. He was a good two-year-old, he won his Grade Two race at Leopardstown. I don’t know, maybe just the way the season unfolded, he took a while to really pull himself together.

“Maybe he was just a bit behind on Derby day (when sixth to Serpentine) and we were always on the back foot. He was super impressive when he won in Paris (Grand Prix de Paris) and his Breeders’ Cup run (fifth behind Tarnawa in the Breeders’ Cup Turf) wasn’t without merit.

“Today, the race worked out nicely for him, he’s beaten a really solid yardstick in Exultant. He (Exultant) always seems to consistently perform to the same level and never seems to run a bad race around here. He’s put them away very nicely.

“In reality, I was in front sooner than would have been ideal today but he took me there nicely. When he gets in front, he maybe lacks a bit of concentration still but he’s a beautiful looking horse. He’s got a fantastic mind and it doesn’t stress him. He’ll be a really nice four-year-old.

“He has a great mind, so travelling won’t stress him. He loves decent ground. I think a few times the ground was a little bit against him. Maybe even in America, the pace was wrong but the ground might have been loose enough. At York, the ground might have been deep enough for him that day. These fast, flat tracks suit him. They let him show what class he has.”

Moore, 37, first travelled to Hong Kong in 2001 as a teenager and has gone on to firmly establish himself as one of the world’s best.

He said: “I’ve always loved coming to Hong Kong. I came here when I was 18 and they were doing the breeze-up sale and I’ve always loved coming here.

“I hadn’t even rode as an apprentice then and I remember coming here and watching Douglas (Whyte) ride all the winners. It was a different time but it was always a great atmosphere and you know how much it means to the punters here. They love their racing and it will be great to have them back here.

“It’s fantastic racing and competitive racing. It’s been a shame I wasn’t able to get over here earlier this year, but hopefully we can come again. The year for everyone has been a mess, but we’re very thankful to everyone at the Hong Kong Jockey Club for getting me over.

“It’s been a big effort and I can’t really stress enough the time they’ve put in. We’re very thankful to get us over here.”

Magical third as Normcore lands Hong Kong Cup

Aidan O’Brien’s Magical could finish only third as Normcore claimed top honours in the Longines Hong Kong Cup at Sha Tin.

Magical looked set for retirement after rounding off her 2019 campaign with victory in the Champion Stakes at Ascot.

However, she was brought back as five-year-old this season and it has proved a wise decision, with the daughter of Galileo claiming another three Group One wins to extend her top-level tally to seven.

Since successfully defending her crown in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown in September, Magical had finished third in the Champion Stakes at Ascot and second to Dermot Weld’s Tarnawa in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.

She was well fancied to provide O’Brien with a first Hong Kong Cup success, but was under pressure before the home turn under Ryan Moore – and while she boxed on tenaciously in the straight, she had to make do with minor honours.

Normcore, trained by Kiyoshi Hagiwara and ridden by Zac Purton, delivered his challenge wide and finished best to win with by three-quarters of a length and with a little in hand.

Magical was only narrowly denied the runner-up spot by last year’s winner Win Bright.

Aidan O'Brien with Magical
Aidan O’Brien with Magical (Healy Racing/PA)

“She ran a stormer,” O’Brien told Sky Sports Racing.

“She had a tough race in Ascot in bad ground and we backed her up in Keeneland, again on slowish ground. Doing something like that can maybe take a little bit of the edge off.

“She ran very well today and ran home very well, but she was a little bit lacklustre from the gates and in the first half of the race.

“We saw how genuine she is – she’s an unbelievable filly really”

Asked whether Magical would now be retired, O’Brien added: “The lads (owners) will chat between themselves what they want to do for a week or 10 days after the race. Then they’ll talk to us and decide.

“She looks great after the race and seems to have pulled up sound. I suppose we’ll take her home and see what the lads want to do.

“She would be some mare to have for next year. If she comes home well and everything is well, we’d love to have her (in training next year), but it will be the lads’ decision.”

Golden Sixty strikes again at Sha Tin

Golden Sixty registered an 11th straight victory in the Longines Hong Kong Mile at Sha Tin.

Francis Lui’s stable star was unsurprisingly all the rage to extended his winning streak in the hands of regular partner Vincent Ho.

The five-year-old did not enjoy the perfect trip, as he was stuck wide for much of the race, but Golden Sixty proved his class with an ultimately emphatic success.

The five-year-old was nearer last than first rounding the home turn, but soon found top gear to reel in the leaders before powering two lengths clear with relative ease – his 14th victory from 15 career starts overall.

Southern Legend beat Admire Mars to the runner-up spot, with Aidan O’Brien’s Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Order Of Australia ultimately well beaten in sixth and the Ken Condon-trained Romanised last of the 10 runners.

Lui said: “I can have a good sleep tonight! I’m very happy – at the moment, I don’t know what to say, (my heart) is still pumping. As a jockey, as a trainer, as an owner, you’re dreaming of this.

“I was worried about the horses from Japan and Ireland but now, after this race, he has shown me that he’s a champion.

Ho added: “When I hit the top of the straight, I knew. I was just cruising and I didn’t think anyone could beat him in that sort of sprint.

“He’s a horse that really wants to compete, he’s the best horse in Hong Kong at the moment. Today is all about him.”

Of Order Of Australia, O’Brien told Sky Sports Racing: “We were very happy with his run. He had a completely different draw to what he had in America – he was drawn in rather than out.

“He was caught behind the pace a little bit. He’s a little bit lazy in the middle of his races and when you ask him to go you need to be able to keep going. Today the gaps didn’t come for him and he just went down a gear.

Aidan O'Brien feels there is more to come from Order Of Australia
Aidan O’Brien feels there is more to come from Order Of Australia (PA)

“He ran very well and we think he’s going to be a lovely miler next year. He could run in something like the Queen Anne in Royal Ascot, and maybe have a run before it.”

Ryan Moore landed the Hong Kong Sprint aboard Takayuki Yasuda’s Danon Smash.

The Japanese challenger hit the front inside the final furlong and held the challenge of unconsidered outsider Jolly Banner at bay by half a length, with Rattan not far behind in third.

Moore said: “We got lucky – he stepped very well and we managed to slot into a lovely spot, I was always happy and when the pace steadied around the bend, I was able to just move out and keep moving forward and he got there in plenty of time.

“He was very tough and very honest – he was a pleasure to ride and he’d shown very good form at times in Japan’s best sprints and at seven furlongs as well he’s won some of the best races at Group Two level and he deserved to win his Group One.

“I’m delighted and just thankful for being asked to ride him and I also need to thank the owners Danox and Mr Yasuda certainly knows how to prepare a sprinter for a Hong Kong Sprint.”

Mogul charges to Hong Kong Vase victory

Mogul produced a dominant display to provide Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore with a third victory in the Longines Hong Kong Vase in Sha Tin.

The Ballydoyle handler saddled Highland Reel to claim the Group One prize in 2015 and 2017, with Moore doing the steering on both occasions.

Mogul lined up with strong claims, having finally claimed the Group One victory he had long promised in the Grand Prix de Paris on his penultimate start, before finishing a creditable fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Keeneland last month.

Hong Kong favourite Exultant led the field into the home straight, but he was unable to resist Mogul’s late charge, with three lengths separating the pair at the line.

Columbus County was a close-up third, with French raider Royal Julius finishing last of the seven runners.

O’Brien told Sky Sports Racing: “We’re delighted with him. He’s a big, powerful, strong horse who is made like a miler. It was only when we started riding him patiently and riding him more for speed than stamina that we’ve seen the best of him.

“Ryan gave him a lovely ride. He settled lovely and quickened very well.

“He’s a very exciting horse for next year. I think anything from a mile and a quarter to a mile and a half on nice ground (suits).

“Ryan says he’s really matured and is really improving. He’s got a very solid mind.”

O’Brien looking to Magical for first Hong Kong Cup success

Magical bids to provide Aidan O’Brien with his first victory in Sunday’s Longines Hong Kong Cup.

The brilliant mare extended her Group One tally to seven when successfully defending her crown in the Irish Champion Stakes in September, subsequently finishing third in the Champion Stakes at Ascot and second to fellow Irish raider Tarnawa at the Breeders’ Cup.

Magical has travelled to the Far East for what could be her swansong before retirement, with her rider Ryan Moore hoping to secure a third Hong Kong Cup success following his previous triumphs aboard Snow Fairy (2010) and Maurice (2016).

O’Brien said: “Magical has travelled plenty and she likes travelling. Pat (Keating, travelling head lad) has been happy with her since she arrived there. Everything looks perfect at the moment.

“She’s a relaxed filly with a good mind and she’s raced all the way from seven furlongs to a mile and a half. She’s a mature adult now and she’s very easy to handle, very straightforward and very genuine.

“She’ll be very happy if there’s a good pace on – that would suit her. She likes to be at a high tempo to be seen at her best.”

Magical renews rivalry with French challenger Skalleti, who was one place and half a length ahead of her in the Champion Stakes.

Jerome Reynier’s stable star had previously beaten subsequent Arc hero Sottsass in a Group Three at Deauville, before winning the Prix Dollar for the second year in succession on Arc weekend.

“We beat Magical last time, but this might be more to her taste and we are here to see what we can do,” said Reynier.

“He is quite exceptional. It’s rare to have a horse that can win a Premio Roma and two Prix Dollars on heavy ground going right-handed, who can also win on the all-weather at left-handed Marseille-Vivaux and a Prix Quincey up a straight 1,600 metres at Deauville on good ground. He adapts to anything.

“I am quite confident and he’s a horse that never disappoints.”

O’Brien has enjoyed more success in the Hong Kong Vase, having saddled Highland Reel to win the race in both 2015 and 2017.

This year’s Ballydoyle representative is Mogul, who finished fifth behind the aforementioned Tarnawa in the Breeders’ Cup Turf last time.

“We always thought a lot more of him than he was showing in his runs until he won the Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp. He’s a big, powerful horse and you would be hoping the plan is to keep him in training next year as well,” said O’Brien.

“The Grand Prix de Paris was a good race and it was the first time we really took the decision to drop out completely, take our time and ride him for pace. That’s what we did and it worked very well.”

Mogul’s opponents include Reynier’s Royal Julius and Hong Kong favourite Exultant, who won this race in 2018 and finished third last year.

Golden Sixty is the undoubted star attraction in the Hong Kong Mile, having extended his winning streak to 10 – and claimed his 13th win from 14 career starts overall – with a brilliant performance in the Jockey Club Mile three weeks ago.

Trainer Francis Lui said: “I’m confident on the horse but the overseas horses – their form is good.

“I’m very happy with his trackwork because he was quite relaxed – everything is ready.”

Jockey Vincent Ho added: “He’s a super horse. He’s got a great mentality – he just wants to chase whatever is in front of him in the straight.

“Every jockey dreams of a horse like this. When you’re on him, it’s just so special.”

Irish hopes are carried by O’Brien’s surprise Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Order Of Australia and Ken Condon’s stable star Romanised.

O’Brien said: “We always had it in our heads that Order Of Australia could be a miler, but he’s by Australia, so we started him as a Derby-type horse and he ran very well when fourth in the Irish Derby.

“We then went back to a mile and a quarter and he ran very well in a French Derby, so it was always possible we were going to back in distance, but it looked like we were going to run out of time.

“In the Breeders’ Cup, he looked like a horse you could shorten up a little bit more because he travelled strongly through the race and we were over the moon with the run.

“We’ve been happy with him since and we’re looking forward to seeing him running again.”

Romanised was a beaten odds-on favourite at Dundalk on his latest outing after blowing the start, but Condon is confident he can make his presence felt at Sha Tin.

He said: “If Billy (Lee) is where he wants to be, Romanised will be the last horse off the bridle. He’ll travel for you further than anything else. I can see him doing that and he might just enjoy it.

“I’m looking forward to it and the fire still burns in him, while he looks a picture for the time of the year.”

Of Golden Sixty, he added: “I’ve watched a few of his races and he can produce a quick quarter-mile when he needs to and go under 22 seconds – he’s got that ability.”

Soumillon ruled out of Hong Kong meeting

Christophe Soumillon has been ruled out of Sunday’s Longines International Races at Sha Tin.

Soumillon will not be permitted to ride by the Hong Kong Jockey Club as he has yet to receive an “unconditional release” from his Covid-19 quarantine period.

A HKJC statement read: “The Hong Kong Jockey Club has been informed by Christophe Soumillon that he has been requested by the Department of Health to undergo further Covid-19 tests.

“It is unknown at this stage when the testing will be completed and when Soumillon will be released from quarantine.

“Soumillon was licensed by the Club on the basis that he would undergo a mandatory 14 days quarantine under the Compulsory Quarantine of Persons Arriving at Hong Kong from Foreign Places Regulation.

“Soumillon arrived at Hong Kong on November 26 and commenced this 14 days quarantine.

“Despite having cleared his initial Covid-19 test on his arrival, he has yet to receive an unconditional release from quarantine in order to ride on this coming Sunday.

“The Club has taken advice from its chief medical officer. Given these circumstances the stewards have decided to stand him down from Sunday’s riding engagements.”

Soumillon had been due to take part in the four Group One features in Hong Kong, as well as riding five horses in supporting races.

Ryan Moore will now take over aboard Admire Mars in the Hong Kong Mile, with Zac Purton stepping in to partner Japanese runner Normcore in the Cup.

Soumillion’s intended Vase mount Ho Ho Khan will now be ridden by Vincent Ho and Alexis Badel will be on Computer Patch in the Sprint.

It is the second time Soumillon has been forced to miss a high-profile international meeting this year, with a positive Covid-19 test having also ruled him out of last month’s Breeders’ Cup meeting.

Hollie Doyle takes joint-third in Hong Kong jockeys’ challenge

Hollie Doyle broke yet more new ground in a stellar year when she won the fourth and final leg of the Longines International Jockeys Championship in Hong Kong.

That was enough for Doyle to share joint-third spot with Alexis Badel behind the Hong Kong-based winner Zac Purton and runner-up Joao Moreira.

Doyle – only the third woman to contest the championship after Emma-Jayne Wilson (2007) and Chantal Sutherland (2009) – struck on the strongly-fancied Harmony N Blessed for David Hayes in a six-furlong handicap at Happy Valley to cap an amazing 2020.

The year has brought her a first Royal Ascot winner, a Champions Day double that saw a first Group One success, a record five winners at Windsor, breaking her own female jockeys’ record of winners in a year, being named Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year and being shortlisted for BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

Out of luck on her three previous mounts in the competition, and one earlier on the undercard, the 24-year-old came good on Harmony N Blessed to become the first British female jockey to have a winner in Hong Kong.

Well-positioned from the stalls, Doyle waited until the top of the straight to ask Harmony N Blessed for a winning effort. The gelding responded and managed to hold the challenge of Ryan Moore on Grateful Heart.

Doyle said: “It’s absolutely unbelievable. I knew I had a good chance on this horse, but you need a lot of things to go right.

“He jumped well, I didn’t have to ask much of him early on and he settled really nicely on the girths of the leader really nicely. The further I was going, the better.”

Doyle’s partner Tom Marquand picked up his only points in the same race by dead-heating for third place on Wind N Grass.

Doyle added: “It’s a huge privilege for Tom and I to be asked after a great season and it’s icing on the cake!”

Tied with Moreira on 18 points heading into the deciding race of the contest, Purton collected an invaluable two after Flying Bonus shared third with with Wind N Grass.

Moreira, who needed to finish ahead of Purton in the last to add another accolade to his bulging collection, crossed the line in sixth place on Cue The Music, failing to improve his score.

Purton said: “In a competition like this when there’s so much on the line, it certainly feels nice to have won it again, it’s another moment that I’ll cherish.

“I didn’t start off too well but we built into it after that. Like I’ve been saying for quite some time now, barriers win races and unfortunately for me it seems have been going on for months.

“I’ve been drawing such bad barriers, every meeting, it’s making so difficult to be competitive.

“Then I come here tonight and, as I said, they weren’t the best rides in the race but the barriers gave them the chance to be competitive. I just needed a bit of luck and things went my way.”

Doyle and Marquand poised to take on the best at Happy Valley

Britain’s golden couple of the weighing room, Hollie Doyle and Tom Marquand, bid to cap a phenomenal year in the saddle when they take on 10 of the world’s top jockeys in the Longines International Jockeys’ Challenge at Happy Valley on Wednesday.

Doyle’s season has included a first Royal Ascot winner, a Champions Day double that saw a first Group One success, a record five winners at Windsor, breaking her own female jockeys’ record of winners in a year, being named Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year and being nominated for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

Not to be outdone, Marquand had his first Group One wins this year and won his first Classic aboard Galileo Chrome in the St Leger on the way to finishing third in the jockeys’ championship – one place ahead of his partner.

Hollie Doyle could hardly believe it after landing a first Group One triumph with Glen Shiel
Hollie Doyle could hardly believe it after landing a first Group One triumph with Glen Shiel (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Now they take on the likes of Hong Kong specialists Zac Purton and Joao Moreira in their back yard, as well as familiar foes such as Ryan Moore and William Buick in the four-race challenge.

Doyle cannot wait to get in the plate, although she knows with no previous experience of the track she is going to need luck on her side.

“I’ve got some good rides on paper. You need a bit of luck over here because the margins are fine, but hopefully I’ll have a good experience and see how we go,” she said.

“We’re not allowed out of our rooms until we race. We’ve had to quarantine since we’ve been here.

“We arrived on Monday and the journey was all good. We got to go in a private jet and were looked after pretty well, but we had to wait six hours at the other side of the airport for our Covid results. That was annoying, but that’s how it is.

“It’s a massive honour to be riding out here and I hope it’s not the first and last time.”

Doyle’s best chance looks to be on the once-raced winner Harmony N Blessed in the fourth and final leg of the series, with trainer David Hayes is expecting a big run from the four-year-old.

“He’s very professional and he did everything right at Sha Tin,” he said.

“He looks like he likes the Valley. I know he hasn’t raced there, but his trials have been excellent. You never know until they race, but he’s a pretty straightforward horse. He should be OK.

“He’s probably eating better now than he was before the first run, so that’s a good sign.

“It’s a nice competitive race. Good step up, light weight so hopefully he can handle it.”

The dual champion trainer has full confidence in Doyle’s ability.

“Her record overseas is too good to be concerned about having her on the horse. I think she’ll do a good job,” he said.

Doyle’s other mounts in the competition are Happily Friends, Universal Go Go and Sunny Lad.

Tom Marquand celebrates Champion Stakes glory with Addeybb
Tom Marquand celebrates Champion Stakes glory with Addeybb (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Marquand’s four rides are Very Sweet Orange, Nunchuks, Surrealism and Wind N Grass, and he hopes he and Doyle can get their share of the spoils.

“Fingers crossed we can walk away with a winner or two apiece,” Marquand.

“Some of the tracks in Australia aren’t too dissimilar (to Happy Valley) with the tightness and the ground being generally being a little bit quicker than in England.

“But we’ve got tight tracks in England like Chester. It’s on another level to over here perhaps.

“Happy Valley is certainly a different track. It’s a test of a jockey and a horse being such a sharp, almost speed-orientated track. So, while it will be a little bit different, very (much) looking forward to tackling it with a great book of ides for both of us.”

Doyle out to end sensational 2020 on a high in Hong Kong

Hollie Doyle is looking to cap off her spectacular year with success in next week’s Longines International Jockeys’ Championship at Happy Valley.

On Tuesday, Doyle added a BBC Sports Personality of the Year nomination to her already exceptional campaign that has seen her ride 139 winners this year, land a five-timer at Windsor in August, claim a first Royal Ascot success and two Champions Day winners, including her first Group One.

Also crowned the Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year, 24-year-old Doyle is set to be joined in the Hong Kong competition by her partner Tom Marquand, who himself has enjoyed a breakthrough year with three Group One wins and a first Classic success.

She said: “Tom and I are really looking forward to going to Hong Kong. It is a place we have always thought about going to and the opportunity has now arisen so we are excited about the prospect.

“It is a great opportunity to ride in Hong Kong at the end of a great year.

“This year has been crazy really for the both of us. It could not have gone much better. We are really grateful and pleased with the way it has gone.

“We are already looking forward to next year and it would be fantastic to have even more success.”

Doyle and Marquand form part of a six-jockey contingent from Europe to face the best of Hong Kong next Wednesday with a prize of HK$500,000 up for grabs.

Ryan Moore, William Buick and French duo Pierre-Charles Boudot and Mickael Barzalona make up the European challenge with Zac Purton, Joao Moreira, Karis Teetan, Vincent Ho, Alexis Badel and Neil Callan comprising the Hong Kong team.

Addeybb heads British entries for Hong Kong International races

The Longines Hong Kong International meeting at Sha Tin on December 13 has attracted a host of high-calibre entrants from across the globe.

William Haggas’ Addeybb leads the British contingent in the Hong Kong Cup after a decisive victory in the Champion Stakes at Ascot, with French-trained runner-up Skalleti also put forward for the 10-furlong contest alongside Aidan O’Brien’s third-placed Magical.

John Gosden has nominated Prince of Wales’s Stakes winner Lord North for the race along with Mehdaayih, while James Fanshawe’s Audarya and Francis-Henri Graffard’s Queen Elizabeth II Stakes champion The Revenant are also entered.

Seven-time Group One winner Almond Eye, trained by Sakae Kunieda, heads the entries for Japan, with last season’s champion Win Bright and the globally-campaigned Deirdre also flying the flag for the nation.

Anthony Van Dyck, the 2019 Derby hero, holds a place in the Hong Kong Vase for Ballydoyle, with this season’s German Derby hero and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe runner-up In Swoop also engaged.

Hong Kong’s Horse of the Year Exultant, who captured the race in 2018 and has won 11 times at Sha Tin, could try to reclaim his crown for the hosts having finished third last year.

Chris Waller has entered his Caulfield Cup winner Verry Elleegant, a six-times Group One champion, and Dermot Weld has nominated Prix Vermeille and Prix de l’Opera victor Tarnawa.

Addeybb, Lord North and Mehdaayih also have Vase options, along with Ed Dunlop’s Red Verdon.

Beat The Clock is due to defend his crown in the six-furlong Hong Kong Sprint, facing competition from Everest winner Classique Legend, who will be transferred to the base of Caspar Fownes in November to be trained for the race.

Britain could be represented by July Cup champion Oxted and British Champions Sprint winner Glen Shiel, with Charlie Hills’ Equilateral also holding an entry.

Four Wheel Drive, victorious in the Group Two Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint, has also been engaged by trainer Wesley Ward while Make A Challenge is in the mix for Denis Hogan.

Haggas’ One Master, John Quinn’s Safe Voyage and O’Brien’s Circus Maximus are among the overseas contingent in the Mile where they could meet new Hong Kong superstar Golden Sixty.

Winter travels on Oxted’s agenda

Oxted may be going on his travels to either Hong Kong or Dubai for his next run after signing off his domestic season with an eye-catching run in defeat at Ascot.

Trainer Roger Teal has revealed his July Cup winner is a possible for the Group One Hong Kong Sprint in December – although he could give his stable star more time and wait for Dubai in March, when the Al Quoz Sprint would be the main objective.

“We’ve been invited possibly to Hong Kong, but I think we’re going to see what happens with him and maybe go to Dubai next year,” said Teal.

“We might go out there possibly for Super Saturday and World Cup night for the Al Quoz.

“It’s not definite, but to be fair to the horse we might concentrate on that. We’ll be guided by him over the next week or so.

“We’ve got next year to look forward. I don’t want to put too many miles on the clock. We’ve got an exciting year to look forward to next year.”

Teal was pleased with Oxted’s run on Saturday, losing by only a length when fifth to Glen Shiel in the Qipco British Champions Sprint on his first start since Newmarket in the summer.

However, he felt the four-year-old would have gone closer had the pace been stronger and the ground less testing.

The Lambourn trainer said: “He’s fine. He’s come out of the race well – no ill effects, so that’s good.

Trainer Roger Teal
Trainer Roger Teal (Hugh Routledge/PA)

“He was probably just a bit too keen early, and we paid the price late on. There was no pace early. Obviously a stronger pace would have helped us.

“On better ground he’d probably have kept on going. He handled the ground, but I think his stamina ran out over the stiff six.

“That ground blunted his speed a bit. The petrol gauge was going empty, because he was too keen early.

“He didn’t show himself up. He ran with credit, (and) I’m just pleased we’ve got a genuine Group One horse. He ran a stormer.”