Karis Teetan won his first Longines International Jockeys' Championship at Happy Valley, Hong Kong, on Wednesday, narrowly beating Ryan Moore in the four race-spectacular.
Having been made favourite to lift the crown following a favourable draw at Monday’s allocation ceremony, Teetan admitted to feeling plenty of pressure ahead of the star-studded evening. However he posted points-scoring performances in the first two legs, before claiming a third-placed effort in the evening’s decider to take the title.
Teetan celebrated a crucial victory in leg two when driving Dream Warriors between horses to score by a short head, this despite seemingly in no hurry to capitalize on a useful rail draw for his mount. Nevertheless they conjured a fine response when throwing down his challenge, winning by a short head from Joao Moreira on Muray’s Partner in second and Zac Purton riding Thunder Stomp who came third.
That wrapped up a quick-fire double for trainer Tony Cruz in the process after Moore had taken out the the opening Longines race on Flying Genius from Yuga Kawada on Happy Good Guys. However Teetan’s third-placed finish aboard the late-charging G Unit proved to be a crucial factor in the final standings. By edging out Vincent Ho on Prawn Yeah Yeah for third place, he returned a decisive four points despite his mount never quite going the pace of the winner who was a length and a half out in front thanks to an efficient ride from Moore over 1000 metres.
Moore might have had a second win after setting the pace with Magnificent in leg three, but they were caught on the line by an inspired Colin Keane, who ran home in tremendous fashion to snatch the victory on Valley specialist Flying Quest, now a six-time winner at the track. While Teetan was unable to rack up a second win when finishing third on High Rev in the final leg, four points was enough to put him over the top against Moore. Ho snatched the money when charging home on Glorious Dragon to deny longtime leader The Hulk, a result which put him on the bottom step of the podium in third place.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Chairman Dr Anthony Chow presented Teetan with the coveted silver whip and a winners’ cheque of HK$500,000.
Speaking afterwards, Teetan said, “I still can’t believe I’ve won this challenge. I knew I had some decent rides but you still need the horses to perform. I was telling my fiancée (Xaviere Cottereau) that I was really feeling the pressure.
“It’s just not a normal day up against the world’s best jockeys. I really wanted to do well and I’m glad everything went well.
“We ride here every week but it’s a different kind of racing when you’re out there against so many good jockey.
“Even watching Ryan and Frankie (Dettori) riding here we’ll pick up a few things and let’s hope it can help me in the future.”
Teetan will hope to carry the success and confidence from Wednesday evening into Sunday’s Longines Hong Kong International Races card at Sha Tin, where he will have hopes of Group 1 glory with Hot King Prawn in the Hong Kong Sprint and Ka Ying Star in the Hong Kong Mile.