Sky Sports Racing Ambassador Hollie Doyle hopes to cap off another unforgettable year by playing a starring role in the Longines International Jockeys’ Challenge in Hong Kong this week.
Honored to have participated in the Hong Kong challenge
I am delighted to be invited to take part in the Longines International Jockeys’ Challenge at Happy Valley in Hong Kong again next week after enjoying such a memorable first trip last year.
Finishing third in the star-studded event 12 months ago was beyond my wildest dreams and becoming the first female jockey to ride a winner there on Harmony N Blessed is still among my greatest accomplishments.
The Challenge is a four-race competition worth HK $ 800,000 with half a million dollars for the winner, but being one of eight foreign runners to be invited next week and gaining such invaluable experience on the stage world is a top prize in itself. .
As a professional sportswoman, I always strive to test my skills against the best in the business and feel very honored to compete against great jockeys, including the last three Challenge winners: our own Ryan Moore, Zac Purton and the reigning Hong Kong champion Joao Moreira.
Among the 12 jockeys who responded to the invitation are also New Zealand ace James McDonald, Japanese Yuga Kawada and Mickael Barzalona for France. James won the Melbourne Cup this year and is third in the Longines ranking of the best jockey in the world behind Ryan, who will surprisingly take part in this 15th time.
Yuga rose to worldwide fame last month when he gifted Japan with its first Breeders’ Cup winner on Loves Only You in the Filly and Mare Turf in Del Mar while Mickael – one of the youngest winners of the Epsom Derby – led the jockeys championship in French this year.
My fiance Tom Marquand will join me on the trip and will also compete in the Challenge for the second time, who will stay in Hong Kong to ride Dubai Honor for his boss William Haggas in the Group One Hong Kong Cup – an opportunity he is. . really excited.
A single test tighter than Chester
Happy Valley is a remarkable racetrack like no other I have ever raced on. To give you an idea, it’s a bit like Chester but a lot tighter, and they run the other way around. In other words, right handed.
It’s one of the most iconic tracks in the world and it all happens so fast. It’s such a buzz from the start but the races run very clean because the rules are much stricter there.
Having been through it last year, I have a much better idea of what to expect, but it will only be a short time when I will know which horses I will be riding, so it is impossible to gauge my chances at this point. .
Last year the event was held behind closed doors due to the pandemic but the atmosphere on the track was still electric. I can’t imagine what it must be like with 55,000 racers crammed into the stands.
I don’t know what the spectator situation is next week in light of the latest developments in Covid, but even a small number of spectators would certainly add to the experience.
The quarantine rules mean that I will have to stay within the confines of our hotel room from our arrival on Monday until the day of the Challenge, so I will not have the opportunity to go around the track until to have my leg lifted for the first race.
We fly from Luton Airport on Sunday, participate in the Challenge on Wednesday and I will be back directly on Thursday. If all goes well with my Covid test the next day, I’d like to think I’ll be back in action on All-Weather in Wolverhampton or Newcastle this weekend.
It will be an amazing experience and I am extremely grateful to the Hong Kong Jockey Club for inviting me again. If I can emulate last year’s feat by riding a winner, I’ll be delighted.