Joao Moreira is confident he and his rivals will quickly thrive on the unique contours of Happy Valley racecourse in the International Jockeys’ Championship.
The four-race challenge brings together a dozen of the best race-riders from around the world at the Hong Kong circuit on Wednesday.
Brazilian stars Moreira and Zac Purton are joined by locally-based riders in Alexis Badel, Neil Callan, Vincent Ho and Karis Teehan, while France will be represented by Pierre-Charles Boudot and Mickael Barzalona.
The UK has Ryan Moore and William Buick as well as Britain’s golden couple of the weighing room, Hollie Doyle and Tom Marquand, in the four-race showdown.
Former winner Moreira has been allocated Gouten Of Garo, Royal Racer, Smiling City and Cue The Music as his four rides.
“There’s no doubt it’s going to be a very interesting jockeys’ challenge,” Moreira said. “It looks like the [Hong Kong Jockey] club has done a good job to share the rides to everyone else in a fair way. I’m actually happy with the rides I’ve got. There’s no doubt we can have some fun.”
Moreira, who won the International Jockeys’ Championship in 2012, respects the rivals he’s about to face and concedes that Happy Valley is a tough track to ride without any prior experience.
“I have no doubt local jockeys have the advantage of riding every day on the city track. But don’t forget these jockeys are coming over here, they are high-quality jockeys and they are able to adapt very quickly, understand and pick up from everybody, even watching replays,” Moreira added.
“I would describe Happy Valley as one of the most difficult places to adapt and get used to, but I also don’t underestimate these guys that are coming because, if they’ve been selected, there are no doubts they are good jockeys and they are going to get used to it quick and do the best they can on this track straight away.”
Plenty of eyes will be focused on Hollie Doyle as she bids to complete a remarkable 2020. Doyle’s season has included a first Royal Ascot winner, a maiden Group 1 scorer, a five-timer at Windsor and breaking her own female jockeys’ record of winners in a year.
Once-raced winner Harmony N Blessed in the fourth and final leg of the series gives her an outstanding chance of riding a winner, though she knows she will have to learn fast.
“It’s a massive honour to be riding out here and I hope it’s not the first and last time,” she said of a maiden visit to Hong Kong.
“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.”