Australian-based jockeys Kerrin McEvoy and James McDonald, fresh from Group 1 success during Melbourne's spring carnival, are gearing up for the 2014 LONGINES International Jockeys’ Championship on 10 December - a series in which each has previously performed with distinction.
The South Australian born McEvoy, of course, hopes to defend the title which he won last year while New Zealander McDonald was the LONGINES IJC runner-up on debut in 2011 and comes to the 2014 Happy Valley challenge in stellar form.
“I can't wait to get back,” McEvoy said, “it was such a thrill last year to ride against legends like Gary Stevens and Mike Smith, let alone win the title, and the 2014 line-up looks fantastic as well. I'll be fired up for it and just hoping I can draw a couple of good mounts and a couple of good gates.”
The still fresh-faced McEvoy became the second youngest jockey, when just 20 years old, to win the Melbourne Cup on Brew in 2000. McDonald was denied by Green Moon and Brett Prebble when runner-up in the 2012 Melbourne Cup on Fiorente when he was also just 20 but few jockeys have matched his impact on Australian racing at such a young age.
“It's going to be great. I've really enjoyed my previous stints in Hong Kong and as a youngster I dreamed of winning a big international race there and I've been lucky enough to do that,” McDonald said in reference to winning the 2012 G1 Champions Mile at Sha Tin aboard Xtension.
McDonald, who was runner-up to Frankie Dettori in the IJC three years ago, has enjoyed a fruitful 2014. He began the Melbourne spring with victory in the G1 Caulfield Guineas and closed it with five winners at Flemington during Melbourne Cup week.
His past four G1 wins have come in million-dollar races with his Australian autumn victories on It's A Dundeel (Queen Elizabeth Stakes); Mossfun (the Golden Slipper) and Rising Romance (Australian Oaks) preceding his Guineas win on Shooting To Win.
McEvoy, whose spring highlight was his G1 Turnbull Stakes success on Lucia Valentina, has maintained his winning form despite his September split from the powerful Godolphin team. The 2002/2003 Melbourne jockey's premiership winner rode six G1 winners in his overseas stint with Godolphin which began in 2004. He has also won numerous feature races in Australia for Sheikh Mohammed's stable after his return to Australia, from Europe, in August 2008.
He noted, after last year's IJC success, that he'd not ridden at Happy Valley since 2004. “I didn't ride a winner then (2004) so it was nice to put that right in last year's series and hopefully I can go back to back,” he said.
His broad CV includes the (Melbourne) Cup; a British Classic courtesy of Rule Of Law in the G1 St Leger; a Royal Ascot G1 success aboard Shamardal; successive G1 Grosser Preis Von Baden wins in Germany with Warrsan; and his most recent G1 success on Lucia Valentina was his 46th at the top level.