Five of the six riders coming to South Africa for next month’s International Jockeys’ Challenge have been confirmed. The two leg challenge will be held at Turffontein on Saturday 15th November and then the following day at Kenilworth.
After some of the instantly recognisable big names of the past few years, this year’s visiting team can hardly inspire the same level of excitement amongst fans. We hope that the one name still to be announced will inject some serious sparkle.
South African racing fans who follow Dubai and English racing will know James Doyle from his win in the 2012 Dubai Duty Free aboard Cityscape, as well as his successes in England in this year’s St James’s Palace Stakes and Sussex Stakes on Kingman. An adaptable rider, the 26-year-old has also won Grade 1 races in Ireland and France and is currently fifth on the UK jockeys’ table this year.
The balance of the confirmed riders are Adam Kirby, who with Doyle will represent England, Martin Harley from Ireland, Germany’s Andreas Helfenbein and Selim Kaya from Turkey.
If you haven’t heard of the rest of them, don’t feel too bad.
Kirby, the 2013 all-weather champion jockey in England, is also 26 and is currently seventh on the UK riders’ log. Followers of English racing will know him from his wins on Lethal Force in last year’s Diamond Jubilee Stakes and Darley July Cup, in which South Africa’s Shea Shea ran fourth.
Harley (25) won the Irish 1000 Guineas on Samitar in 2012 and his other Group 1 win came aboard Tac De Boistron in the Prix Royal-Oak at Longchamp in Paris last year.
Helfenbein (46) was the leading apprentice three times in Germany and has ridden winners in Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, England, France and Macau, while Kaya, second on the Turkish jockeys’ log last season, has won five Group 1 races in his homeland, including the Topkapi Trophy in 2006 on Ribella.
The first four on the South African national jockeys’ log last season – S’manga Khumalo (captain), Richard Fourie, Muzi Yeni and Piere Strydom – will represent South Africa. Two local jockeys and one international rider are still to be finalised.
The jockeys will ride in four races at each meeting and the team that scores the most points wins the Challenge.
In the last six years, South Africa has taken the trophy four times and the internationals twice.