From the South China Morning Post
They lock horns on the racetrack all racing season, now Hong Kong’s two top jockeys, Zac Purton and Joao Moreira, will take their rivalry to another level when they compete in a sideshow at February’s Longines Hong Kong Masters showjumping event.
Purton and Moreira, along with fellow jockeys Matthew Chadwick and Neil Callan, will participate in the “HKJC 130th Anniversary Race of the Riders” as a part of the Jockey Club’s anniversary celebration on the opening day of the three-day event at AsiaWorld-Expo, from February 13 to 15.
It’s something different. It is a good twist to the event and I’m looking forward to the opportunity
The jockeys will make their appearance in between the Hong Kong Jockey Club Trophy race and Longines Speed Challenge to demonstrate their equestrian skills. The route will be exactly the same as the following speed challenge, with the obstacles lowered from 1.45 metres to about 75cm to 85cm.
Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, the chief executive of the Hong Kong Jockey Club, said the jockeys were expert horsemen.
“We have been involved in equestrian for a long time. For the Masters, we want to do something when the top [showjumping] riders from all over the world are coming.
“I think we have some of the best jockeys here. So we came up with the idea with EEM World [the organiser of the Hong Kong Masters] to allow our jockeys to show their equestrian skills. I think it will be very competitive,” said Engelbrecht-Bresges.
Swede Henrik von Eckermann will be back to defend his Grand Prix title in Hong Kong. Photo: Reuters
Purton, the reigning champion jockey, said: “It’s something different. That is a good twist to the event and I’m looking forward to the opportunity.”
Each jockey will be instructed by a professional showjumper. Hong Kong’s Raena Leung Hou-ling will be among the coaches.
“The combination of coach and jockey is not yet decided, but personally I would like to partner with Chadwick,” said Leung.
“We didn’t know each other, but Chadwick’s adoptive mother was my English teacher when I was studying at Chinese International School. She told me her son just started as an apprentice jockey at that time. It would be great to have two homegrown riders in a pair.
“I think this event will be attractive to the spectators as they all know these jockeys.”
Leung will be the sole Hong Kong showjumper in the Masters. The 27-year-old will be making her second appearance after competing in the inaugural version of the Masters two years ago.
Leung will take part in all six competitions with her horses Orphee du Granit and Lalik 2, including the US$700,000 Grand Prix on the final day.
Raena Leung will be the sole Hong Kong competitor at the Longines Masters showjumping event. Photo: SCMP Pictures
Last year’s Grand Prix champion, Henrik von Eckermann, will be back to defend his title. The Swede will face a strong line-up including world champion Jeroen Dubbeldam, world number one Scott Brash, world No 3 Ludger Beerbaum and European champion Roger-Yves Bost.
Hong Kong is now the first leg of this year’s Masters Grand Slam Indoor Series, which was last month recognised by the International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI). The winner of the grand prix in all three legs – Hong Kong, Los Angeles and Paris – will scoop a bonus cash prize of €1 million (HK$9.14 million).