Leading American jockey Gary Stevens will return to Hong Kong for the first time in over a decade when he contests the International Jockeys’ Championship at Happy Valley this evening.
Stevens has won more than 5000 races in an incredible riding career that stretches back to 1979 but will be competing in International Jockeys’ Championship, alongside fellow American Mike Smith, for the first time.
The leading jockey, who returned from retirement at the start of this year, told The Hong Kong Jockey Club that he is delighted to have the chance to return to Hong Kong and compete against some of the best jockeys from right around the world.
“It’s been a long time since I rode here,” Stevens said.
“It was 2001 but it’s great to be back to ride against old friends and new friends.
“The greatest riders in the world are assembled here tomorrow night.
“It’s great to be here and I can tell you it would mean a whole lot to me to win it.”
The horses in the International Jockeys’ Championship are randomly assigned to all twelve riders in the contest and Stevens will partner Hoxo, Real General, Nordic One and Dual Happy across the four races of the lucrative series.
Stevens was happy with the horses he has drawn but still believes that he will need plenty of lucky to be named Champion International Jockey and pick up a share of the amazing HK$800,000 prize pool that is on offer for the 12 riders in the event.
“It’s luck of the draw with the horses and the barriers,” Stevens said.
“There’s not going to be too many mistakes made out there and it will come down to the best horse and the best trip.”
Stevens has accumulated the majority of his major victories in the United States, winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes on multiple occasions and taking out several Breeders’ Cup trophies, but has also won out some of the big races on the global racing calendar all around the world.
The veteran hoop took out the 1991 Japan Cup with Golden Pheasant, won the Hardwicke Stakes during the 1997 Royal Ascot meeting with Predappio, scored the 1998 Dubai World Cup with Silver Charm, captured the 2004 Dubai Sheema Classic with Polish Summer and partnered Somnus to take out the Prix Maurice de Gheest in France in 2004.
Australia will have two representatives in the International Jockeys’ Championship; with Kerrin McEvoy and Zac Purton both set to take part.