Tosaki places third in HK Jockeys' Championship
Representing Japan in this year’s LONGINES International Jockeys’ Championship at Happy Valley, Keita Tosaki pulled off a third-place finish among 12 of the world’s best riders.
The Hong Kong international jockey gala on the night of Wednesday, Dec. 9 saw South Africa’s Gavin Larena finish on top after scooping the last two of the four races for a final score of 24. Ryan Moore was second with 15 points and Tosaki scored 13 for third place.
Larena was awarded HK$500,000 in prize money for the win. A remaining HK$300,000 was shared by Moore and Tosaki, with the latter receiving prize money of HK$100,000.
The four turf events, Race No. 4, 5, 7, and 8 on the Happy Valley card of nine, each offered riders a shot at a maximum of 12 points for a win, six points for second place and four points for third.
The first leg of the night, a 1,650-meter event, went to Silvestre De Sousa, Britain’s current champion jockey. Riding over turf rated good to yielding, De Sousa scored 12 points on the race third pick, the 4-year-old gelding Happy Spirit, trained by former champion jockey Tony Cruz. Moore was second on the John Size-trained Go-Getter and Tosaki crossed the line in third for four points aboard the 6-year-old gelding First Sight Love, trained by Almond Lee.
It was the second leg, a 1,650-meter race over turf now rated yielding, that helped to boost Tosaki to his eventual second runnerup status. He and Ryan Moore went neck and neck in the final stages. Moore’s Happy and Healthy, a 5-year-old gelding and the race favorite, and Tosaki’s 4-year-old gelding True Comment, a 31-1 longshot, were declared to have crossed the line in a dead heat, which gave each of the riders nine points apiece. Derek Leung was third.
Going into the second half of the competition, Moore was out in front with 15 points, with Tosaki trailing by two.
The third race, a sprint over 1,000 meters, launched Lerena into the running, when he came home victorious aboard Mr Right for trainer Peter Ho. Guyon and Whyte finished second and third, respectively. Tosaki finished in ninth place aboard the 7-year-old gelding Highland Dragon, the race’s least popular pick. With neither Moore nor Tosaki adding to their total with the third race, Lerena was suddenly trailing Tosaki by a mere point.
At that point in the championship, any of the top five riders were still within reach of the overall win. But luck was with Lerena, who rolled a double with his mount, the Derek Cruz-trained Superoi. Lerena won the 1,650-meter final race and reeled in another 12 points and the championship. Moreira came second and Leung third with Moore and Tosaki again coming up empty.
After the event, Tosaki expressed his joy at having captured a race. “I am very, very happy to have notched a win on my first day riding overseas,” he said. “And, with that first overseas win being a rare dead heat, it will surely be a lasting memory.” Tosaki did admit that finishing in third place overall was not quite as joyous. “It was frustrating. But, I hope to turn this frustration around on the weekend.” Tosaki is slated to ride Straight Girl and Staphanos in the International Races on Sunday at Sha Tin.
The 35-year-old Tochigi native rides for the Miho stable of Toshiaki Tajima. Formerly a rider for the NAR municipal government racing, Tosaki was based at Ohi Racecourse in Tokyo from 1998. Though he had ridden numerous JRA horses before, he did not receive a JRA license until 2013. Now, Tosaki is currently ranked second among all JRA riders. So far this year, he has accumulated 116 wins, five behind Yuichi Fukunaga, currently sidelined due to injury, and nine wins ahead of third place Mirco Demuro.
The other nine riders in finishing order with total points in parentheses were: Silvestre De Sousa (12), Derek Leung (8), Joao Moreira (6), Maxime Guyon (6), Douglas Whyte (4), James McDonald (0), Hugh Bowman (0), Victor Espinoza (0), and Brett Prebble (0).
Tosaki was riding in the championship for his first time, as were Lerena, Leung, and De Sousa.
Japan’s Yuichi Fukunaga won the event last year and Yutaka Take shared first place with Christophe Soumillon in 2004.
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