Hong Kong: Moore and Bowman head betting for challenge

Joao Moreira: one of the riders competing in challenge

PICTURE: Getty Images Moore and Bowman head betting in challenge By Stuart Riley in Hong Kong 9:31AM 7 DEC 2016

THE world's best jockey Ryan Moore faces off against 11 others, including Joao Moreira, Pat Smullen, Mickael Barzalona and Zac Purton, in the Longines International Jockeys' Championship at Happy Valley today.

His WBJ belt, which he officially collects for the second time on Friday, may not be on the line but the IJC belt – which is currently held by another contender, South Africa's Gavin Lerena – is up for grabs.

All 12 jockeys ride in each of four contests – races four, five, seven and eight on the card – with 12 points for a win, six for second and four for third.

Moore has won it twice before and was second last year, so is no stranger to the idiosyncrasies of Happy Valley, and he has been priced up as the 15-4 joint-favourite with Hugh Bowman after drawing rides on Catchmeifyoucan, Giant Turtle, Midnite Promise and Beauty Prince.

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Moreira, another former winner and Hong Kong's record-breaking reigning champion jockey, is priced up at 13-2 but is hopeful he can mount a challenge.

"It's a very tough job to get done," he said. "But it's always a pleasure to ride in this kind of competition and if I could win I'd be delighted. I have chances – Good Choice is probably the best of them."

'I'm going in to enjoy myself'

Moreira's knowledge of the local form is a big advantage over the international contenders and Lerena, priced up locally at 8-1, admitted he did not know much about his chances of defending his title.

"It's fantastic to be here and I'm going in to enjoy myself and hopefully I'll give every horse a chance of winning."

Pat Smullen is the ninth choice of the punters at 13-1. But the rider, who heads home on Friday, has travelled to Hong Kong to be involved and is unlikely to go down without a fight.

"It's an honour to be invited. Some of the best jockeys in the world are here and it's a great test of yourself. It's probably the best mounts I've drawn in this competition and two of them [Powermax in leg one and Team Sweet in leg two] look to have serious chances."

On which rival he was most keen to beat, Smullen added: "One? I want to beat the 11 of them!"

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