International Jockeys’ Championship (IJC) at Happy Valley Racecourse in December.
The New Zealand-born rider was named the Longines World’s Best Jockey for 2022 and will be eager to demonstrate why is he is so highly regarded next month.
McDonald is enjoying another excellent year in the saddle, most notably due to his exciting partnership with recent Cox Plate winner Romantic Warrior.
The combination will be reunited next month as they bid to go back-to-back in the prestigious Hong Kong Cup at Sha Tin Racecourse.
McDonald has never previously topped the standings in the IJC, and will have to overcome some hugely talented rivals to achieve the feat this time around.
Previous champions Zac Purton, Ryan Moore and Tom Marquand are all in the line-up and will be eager to deliver plenty of winning returns to bettors on online sportsbooks.
Purton is chasing a record fourth IJC crown having secured victory in 2017, 2020 and 2021. The six-time Hong Kong champion jockey will be a popular pick for punters in this year’s event.
Moore was a joint-winner of the title in 2009 before claiming outright victory the following year and will fancy his chances of success after a stellar season.
Punters using free horse racing tips to wager on Moore have repeatedly bagged sizeable returns following his exploits in a string of top-class races this season.
His most notable achievements have come aboard multiple Group 1 winner Auguste Rodin, who recently claimed a memorable victory in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita.
Joint 2022 winner Marquand will be eager to claim the IJC title outright this year, while his partner Hollie Doyle is also expected to have several fancied mounts.
Australian representative Rachel King is making her IJC debut this year after showcasing her talents in numerous racing jurisdictions across the world.
The 33-year-old was second in Japan’s World All-Star Jockeys contest this year, just one point adrift of the eventual champion Mirai Iwata.
France’s Mickael Barzalona and Japan’s Yuga Kawada add further class to the event, while German jockey Bauyrzhan Murzabayev is another exciting addition to the line-up.
The Kazakhstan-born jockey won the German title from 2019 to 2022 and is now the retained rider for leading French trainer Andre Fabre.
The remaining three slots for the IJC event will go to the leading homegrown rider and the highest-ranked jockeys in the Hong Kong championship standings at the end of racing on November 22.
The four races which comprise the IJC are worth a combined HK$7.5 million in prize money, while a total prize fund of HK$1 million is also on offer for the jockeys.
The winning rider will receive HK$600,000, while the runner-up will bank HK$250,000. The third-place finisher pockets HK$150,000.
Trainers also have a lucrative bonus scheme available to them, with a total price pool of HK$500,000 on offer to the three handlers who accumulate the highest points total across the four races.
The scoring system awards 12 points for a victory, six points for second place and four points to third.
2023 International Jockeys’ Championship Line-Up
The line-up for the 2023 International Jockeys’ Championship comprises the following 12 riders:
- Tom Marquand (reigning IJC champion)
- Zac Purton (reigning Hong Kong champion)
- James McDonald (New Zealand)
- Rachel King (Australia)
- Ryan Moore (Great Britain)
- Hollie Doyle (Great Britain)
- Mickael Barzalona (France)
- Yuga Kawada (Japan)
- Bauyrzhan Murzabayev (Germany)
- Three Hong Kong-based jockeys to be confirmed
The IJC takes place at Happy Valley Racecourse on Wednesday, December 6.