JRA's Ikezoe chosen for Meydan Masters
JRA jockey Kenichi Ikezoe has been selected as one of 12 riders to participate in the Meydan Masters International Jockeys' Challenge next year at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The third version of the elite jockey event, which will be held on two weekdays, Jan. 5 and 6, opens the year's Dubai World Cup Carnival, comprised of 16 fixtures and running through to the 17th Dubai World Cup in March.
Invitations were extended by the Dubai Racing Club to jockeys who have, together, captured the world's most prestigious races throughout 2011. The dozen will compete in a points-based competition consisting of four races offered over the two days at Meydan Racecourse.
Ikezoe, who ended the year on a winning note aboard 2011 Triple Crown champion Orfevre in the Arima Kinen (The Grand Prix) at Nakayama Racecourse on Christmas Day, will join 11 other of the world's winningest riders from seven countries for the four-race series.
The jockeys confirmed in addition to Ikezoe are: Mickael Barzalona, Maxime Guyon and Christophe Lemaire from France; William Buick, Ryan Moore, Colm O'Donoghue and Tom Queally from Great Britain and Ireland; Italy's Mirco Demuro and Frankie Dettori; Andrasch Starke from Germany and Australia's Craig Williams.
Points will be awarded according to finishing position, with 75 for the winner, 20 for second place, 15 for third and ten for fourth down to just one for 12th. In the event two or more jockeys accumulate the same number of points at the end of the third race, a countback will take place with the jockey riding the most number of winners being declared the victor. If it is still tied at that stage the winner will be the rider who has registered the most seconds.
Ikezoe is the third representative from Japan to be invited to the Meydan Masters. Norihiro Yokoyama took part in the inaugural event in 2010 and Hiroyuki Uchida competed in the 2011 version. The first two years went to Britain's Richard Hills in 2010 and Calvin Borel of the United States in 2011.
A native of Shiga Prefecture and son of former jockey-turned-trainer Kaneo Ikezoe, the younger Ikezoe debuted in 1998 and enjoyed success from the start. In his debut year, he won the JRA award for most wins by a new rider and for four years after that -- in 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2010 -- he was recognized with the Fair Play Award among Kansai-based jockeys. In 2002, only four years from his debut, Ikezoe won his first Grade 1 race, the Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas) aboard the longshot Arrow Carry. Thus far, Ikezoe has accumulated 756 wins total, including 53 graded race wins. In 2011, Ikezoe won 59 races to put him in the No. 9 spot among jockeys based in western Japan, No.18 among all JRA riders.
Ikezoe's partnership with the nation's seventh Triple Crown winner Orfevre, made the 32-year-old jockey the youngest JRA rider to capture the big three and gave him four of his six Grade 1 wins for 2011. In addition to the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas), Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby), Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger) and Arima Kinen, Ikezoe also won the Sprinters Stakes aboard Curren Chan and the Mile Championship, partnered with Eishin Apollon.
In 2011, the jockeys selected for the Meydan Masters won a combined 61 top-level races around the world, including the Dubai World Cup, Caulfield Cup, W.S. Cox Plate, Melbourne Cup, King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. Seven of the riders also notched classic victories in 2011, including the English Derby, St. Leger, 2,000 Guineas, 1,000 Guineas, Hong Kong Derby, Japanese Derby and Irish Derby.
Ikezoe is scheduled to leave for Dubai on Jan. 4 and return to Japan on Jan. 7.
* Please visit the following websites for more information.
Dubai Racing Club website: http://www.dubairacingclub.com/
Emirates Racing Authority website: http://www.emiratesracing.com/