Rachel King firmly believes she can challenge for the Longines International Jockeys’ Championship (IJC) on Wednesday night when the 33-year-old makes her maiden appearance in the prestigious event.
Already with three Group One victories this year, King is confident a combination of recent international experience and local guidance will enable her to mix it with the best at Happy Valley.
“I’m really looking forward to it. It’s going to be a great experience, and hopefully, I’ve got some decent rides in there,” King said. “I’ve only got to go one better than Japan, and I can win.”
The Britain-born, Australia-based jockey came agonisingly close to being crowned the World All-Star Jockeys series champion at Sapporo in August – she finished second to Japanese rider Mirai Iwata – and she is aiming to make her presence felt among the cast of overseas stars.
A heartbreaking end for Rachel King in her quest to win the World All-Star Jockeys Series in Japan. Would have won if her mount finished better than 8th, but unfortunately was pulled up in the straight 😢
— Andrew Hawkins (@AndrewNJHawkins) August 27, 2023
“Japan was an amazing experience – that was the first sort of big competition I’ve done – and it probably helped me get an invite to come here,” King said. “There’s plenty of good jockeys in Australia, so it’s nice to come and represent.”
On Monday, King found out who she will be partnering for the four legs of this year’s IJC, and admitted she was immediately asking for advice from six-time Hong Kong champion jockey Zac Purton.
“I was sat next to Zac and asked him where I’ve got to do all of the form and things like that. I’ll get a bit of help and have a good look through them later,” King said. “He was giving me a few little pointers. There are plenty of good people to learn from and people to ask, so I’ll get as much information as I can.”
King looks to have winning chances with last-start placegetters Oversubscribed and To Infinity in the first two legs of the IJC, while Star Contact and Toronado Phantom complete her book of tournament rides.
“It’s nice to get the privilege to [represent Australia], and I’m just happy to be picked,” King said. “It’s funny because James [McDonald] is representing New Zealand, and I’m representing Australia, although I’m English, so it’s a little bit mixed up.”
Growing up in Oxfordshire, King competed as an amateur rider in National Hunt races before moving to Australia to work for Bart and James Cummings in 2014.
Following King’s two-month stint with the Cummings men, Mark Newnham – then an assistant trainer to Gai Waterhouse – convinced Australia’s first lady of racing to take on King as an apprentice jockey.
After Newnham branched out on his own, he and King tasted their first top-level triumphs in 2018 when they teamed up with Group One Spring Champion Stakes (2,000m) winner Maid Of Heaven.
It’s safe to say Mark Newnham and Rachel King won’t forget the 2018 edition of the Spring Champion Stakes.
— Racing NSW (@racing_nsw) October 19, 2022
Reflecting on her rise through Australia’s jockey ranks, King mentioned her last visit to the city circuit in 2011 and pondered a possible future in Hong Kong.
“The last time I was here, I went and watched some races at Happy Valley and had ridden in an amateur ladies’ flat race in Macau. It’s been a bit of a journey to where I am now,” King said.
“There’s obviously a few Aussies who have come to Hong Kong and been very successful. It’s very prestigious to be asked to come here, and I think jockeys everywhere in the world – especially the Aussie jockeys – aspire to come here and compete.”