Colin Keane looking to go one better in Hong Kong this year

Irish jockey competes in the Longines International Jockeys Championship at Happy Valley

Colin Keane will hope to go one better than last year when he flies the Irish flag at Wednesday's Longines International Jockeys Championship in Hong Kong.

Ahead of this weekend's International Carnival, and its four Group One races, at Sha Tin, it is Hong Kong's other track in Happy Valley which is the focus of attention on Wednesday.

Keane is back for another crack at the four-race rider’s competition which he was runner-up in a year ago to Silvestre de Sousa.

Both men clash once more in a star-studded series that also features Frankie Dettori, Ryan Moore, Oisín Murphy, the French champion Pierre-Charles Boudot, as well as local stars, Zac Purton and Joao Moreira.


It is Dettori’s first time to ride in the competition since 2011 and the Italian– who will be 49 later this month – returns on the back of a season in which he’s won 19 Group One races.

“It’s a great atmosphere at Happy Valley and this series is always challenging, taking on the best around this unique track,” he said.

Dettori is expected to ride in some of Sunday’s prestigious international races on the last major Group One programme of the year.

Aidan O'Brien has sent a three-pronged team headed by the Derby hero Anthony Van Dyck.

He is due to line up in the mile and a half Vase alongside his stable companion Mount Everest and the Willie Mullins-trained mare True Self.

Magic Wand, who finally broke her top-flight duck in the Mackinnon Stakes at Flemington last month, has continued her travels and will line up in the mile and a quarter Cup event for the Ballydoyle team.

"They've settled in 100 per cent, couldn't be better. We couldn't be happier with them. They'll probably just canter for the rest of the week," O'Brien's representative, Pat Keating, told local media in Hong Kong.

O’Brien twice won the Vase in 2015 and 2017 with Highland Reel, although Anthony Van Dyck is only second favourite for Sunday morning’s race behind the local middle-distance star Exultant.

Formerly known as Irishcorrespondent when trained by Mick Halford to finish third in the 2017 Irish 2,000 Guineas, Exultant is a hot 11-8 market leader in some ante-post lists.

Anthony Van Dyck will be the first Epsom Derby winner to line up at the International Carnival. He last ran in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita over a month ago when an unlucky third behind Bricks And Mortar.

Magic Wand also faces a major local star in Furore, winner of the Hong Kong Derby earlier this year. He is a 9-4 favourite, although only just ahead of the star Irish mare in some markets.

The sole Irish-trained winner of the Cup was another mare, Alexander Goldrun, for Jim Bolger in 2004.

Just as Magic Wand has made the trip from Australia, so has True Self, who won a Group Three at Flemington after failing to make the field for the Melbourne Cup last month.

Prior to that she was runner-up to Prince Of Arran in the Geelong Cup. Both are due to line up in the Vase, which is traditionally dominated by European runners.

Former jump jockey David Casey is overseeing True Self's preparation in Hong Kong and he worked her six furlongs on Tuesday.

“We thought we’d better open her up today so we stretched out over the last 400m. She’s very fit from Australia and everything is going well, I might just breeze her on Thursday but we’ll see how it goes.

“It’s a very big weekend of jump racing in England and Ireland so I don’t think Willie is going to make it here. Possibly Jackie [his wife] will come instead,” Casey reported.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column