January 18, 2022, 16:19

Hollie Doyle blog: Sky Sports Racing ambassador in Hong Kong to take on world’s best jockeys in Challenge

Hollie Doyle blog: Sky Sports Racing ambassador in Hong Kong to take on world’s best jockeys in Challenge

Sky Sports Racing ambassador Hollie Doyle is hoping to cap another unforgettable year by playing a starring role in the Longines International Jockeys’ Challenge in Hong Kong this week.

Honoured to be riding in Hong Kong challenge

I’m so excited to be invited back to ride in the Longines International Jockeys’ Challenge at Happy Valley in Hong Kong next week after enjoying such a memorable first trip out there last year.

Finishing joint-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 still rates among my greatest achievements.

Doyle has ridden a personal record 165 winners in 2021 so far

The Challenge is a four-race competition worth HK$800,000 with a staggering half a million going to the winner but to be among the eight overseas riders to be invited next week and to gain such invaluable experience on a world stage is a top prize in itself.

As a professional sportswoman I’m always striving to test my talents against the best in the business and feel quite humbled to be lining up against some great jockeys, including the last three winners of the Challenge: our own Ryan Moore, Zac Purton and reigning Hong Kong champion Joao Moreira.

Ryan Moore is among the jockeys taking part in Hong Kong

Also among the 12 jockeys taking up the invitation are New Zealand ace James McDonald, Japan’s Yuga Kawada and Mickael Barzalona for France. James won this year’s Melbourne Cup and is third in the Longines World’s Best Jockey standings behind Ryan, who will amazingly be riding in this for the 15th time.

Yuga sprung to worldwide fame last month when he gave Japan their first Breeders’ Cup winner on Loves Only You in the Filly and Mare Turf at Del Mar while Mickael – one of the youngest winners of the Epsom Derby – has headed the jockeys’ championship in France this year.

Also See:

  • Full racecards
  • Racing live on Sky Sports

Joining me for the trip and also riding in the Challenge for the second time is my fiancé Tom Marquand, who will be staying on in Hong Kong to ride Dubai Honour for his boss William Haggas in the Group One Hong Kong Cup – an opportunity he is really excited about.

A unique test that’s tighter than Chester

Happy Valley is a remarkable racecourse like no other I have ever ridden at. To give you some idea, it’s a little bit like Chester but much tighter, and they race the other way round. In other words, right-handed.

It’s one of the most iconic tracks in the world and everything happens so quickly. It’s such a buzz from the get-go but the races are run very clean as the rules are much stricter out there.

Having experienced it last year I do have a much better feel for what to expect but won’t know until nearer the time which horses I’ll be riding so it’s impossible to assess my chances at this stage.

Last year the event took place behind closed doors because of the pandemic but the atmosphere down on the track was still electric. I can’t imagine what it must be like with 55,000 racing mad people packed into the stands.

Doyle will be in hotel quarantine with Marquand in Hong Kong

I’m not sure what the situation is in terms of spectators next week in light of the latest Covid developments but even a restricted number of racegoers would certainly add to the experience.

The quarantine rules mean that I will have to remain within the confines of our hotel room from when we first arrive on Monday to the day of the Challenge, so I won’t get the opportunity to ride around the track until I get the leg up for the first race.

We fly from Luton Airport on Sunday, ride in the Challenge on Wednesday and I’ll then be flying straight back on Thursday. If everything goes smoothly with my Covid test the following day I’d like to think I’ll be back in action on the All-Weather at Wolverhampton or Newcastle at the weekend.

It’s going to be an amazing experience and I’m hugely grateful to the Hong Kong Jockey Club for inviting me back. If I can emulate last year’s achievement by riding a winner I’ll be delighted.

Sourse: skysports.com

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