Mauritius International Jockeys’ Weekend broadcast live to Australia

Australia will for the first time be able to watch Mauritius racing live on Sky Racing this weekend from the Air Mauritius-Attitude International Jockeys’ Weekend (IJW) 2017 on Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday Sky Racing2 will broadcast Races 4 to 8 from 9.45pm AEST and on Sunday eight races from 8.00pm AEST on Sky Racing2 and from 10.15pm AEST on Sky Racing1.

With Luke Nolen and former South African-based Jeff Lloyd carrying the Australian flag, and Brisbane-based South African Robbie Fradd also in the mix, punters will be able to plump for familiar names among the stellar line-up of 12 jockeys taking part at the annual event on the racing-mad Indian Ocean island.

Launched in 1984, the IJW is the traditional season’s December finale at the country’s only track and second oldest racecourse in the world, the Champ de Mars, a 1,298m long velodrome-like track nestled right smack in the middle of the capital Port-Louis.

The challenge was discontinued between 1987 and 1995 before resuming in 1996 for another four years. After another hiatus of one year in 2000, the series has grown from strength to strength since 2001.

Better known in the world as legendary mare Black Caviar’s regular partner, Nolen will be at his first riding experience in Mauritius, a country of 1.2 million people whose national pastime is horse racing!

His two Queensland counterparts are both considered as veterans, but their names will be chanted more wildly by the partisan crowd.

Setting a new record of wins at his second Brisbane title last year, Lloyd and his compatriot, the currently second-placed jockey in this year’s log, Fradd, 53, both have a cult following in Mauritius, earned from previous successful stints. By far the more popular, five-time Mauritius champion jockey Lloyd will be the hottest drawcard this year as he makes his Champ de Mars comeback while Fradd also won the title there in 1993, at his third season after 1990 and 1991.

Lloyd, who currently sits on top of the Brisbane heap, incidentally ahead of Fradd by seven winners, is already in Mauritius with his family while Nolen arrives in Mauritius on Wednesday. Fradd rides at the Gold Coast on Wednesday before flying to Mauritius with his family the next day.

The trio will be pitted against nine other top jockeys, hailing from France, England, South Africa, Hong Kong, Brazil, India and Mauritius.

As the Mauritius champion jockey (tied with Indian jockey Imran Chisty on 20 winners last Saturday), Melbourne jockey Steven Arnold was automatically invited to the series, but he declined as he had already decided to return home. This year, Arnold was a notable absentee from the Victorian riding ranks after spending the whole season (since March) as stable jockey to the island’s oldest racing dynasty, the Gujadhurs.

Chisty will, on the other hand, take his berth among the stellar line-up which also features last year’s IJW winner Maxime Guyon (France), Pierre Charles Boudot (France), Mickael Barzalona (France), Hayley Turner (England), Craig Zackey (South Africa), Matthew Chadwick (Hong Kong), Elione Chaves (Brazil) and Swapneel Rama (Mauritius).

Last year, fellow Victorians Mark Zahra and Brad Rawiller rode there for the first time at the IJW with Zahra doing the best with two wins (Blue Jeans and Avail) and a fourth spot on 22 points, while James Winks also took part, but as one of the best expat jockeys on last year’s log. Winks fared the best among the three Australians with two wins (Jullidar and Suzie’s Arrow) and a runner-up spot to Guyon (26 points versus 44 points).

Other Australian/New Zealand jockeys to have ridden at the Mauritius challenge in the 23 previous renewals are Albie Smith and Mark Grigsby (1984), Brent Thomson, Wayne Harris and Peter Barnett (1985), Kevin Moses (1996), Darren Gauci (1997), Damien Oliver (1998, 1999, 2008, 2014 team winner), Scott Seamer (2001), Chris Munce (2002 winner), Shaun McGruddy (2002), Corey Brown (2002, 2011 team winner), Brett Prebble, Kerrin McEvoy, Craig Newitt and Michelle Payne (2003), Jim Cassidy and Nick Ryan (2004), Rod Quinn and Gavin McKeon (2005), Noel Callow (2007 winner, 2012 winner, 2015), Shane Dye (2009), Michael Rodd (2010), Hugh Bowman (2012 team winner) and Nash Rawiller (2013 team winner).

The event will be split between eight races (with eight runners each) on Saturday and seven on Sunday (one race will be open to the Fegentri Lady Riders league). Rides will be drawn by ballot on Wednesday night at The Ravenala Attitude Hotel.

Points will be allocated as follows:

Win (9 points), second place (4 points), third place (2 points) and fourth place (1 point). The winner will be the jockey who racks up the highest score based on the six best finishes.