Day: December 29, 2008

Over The Moon

2008 Review Part 1: Jockeys
Moon Se Young was yesterday crowned 2008 Champion jockey at Seoul Race Park having completed the season with a record breaking 128 winners. The 28 year old Moon finished 31 ahead of his closest rival and former record holder Park Tae Jong. Although his days as Champion may be over, it was still another solid season from Park Tae Jong. The 43 year old is approaching his 10,000th ride (no mean feat in a country where they race only twice a week) and 1500th winner. In October Park won the Seoul International Jockeys’ challenge.

Seoul Jockeys’ Championship 2008 – Final Standings

1. Moon Se Young – 128
2. Park Tae Jong – 97
3. Cho Kyoung Ho – 91
4. Choi Beom Hyun – 81
5 = Ikuyasu Kurakane; Kim Hyo Seob – 44

Yoo Seung Wan was top apprentice with 31 winners and looks set to ride out his claim soon. Of the newcomers this year, Lee Sang Hyeok finishes on top with 7 wins plus a ride in the Grand Prix race to his name.

At Busan, the remarkable Toshio Uchida only arrived in Korea in May but that was plenty of time for “Mr Pink” to comfortably take the title with 69 wins and a win rate of 22%. Uchida received a raucous reception from punters when he ventured to Seoul for the Minister’s Cup in October and there have been persistant rumours that Seoul may be his next destination. Four winners last Friday saw Chae Gyu Jun into second spot, one ahead of Yoo Hyun Myoung. Chae will have plenty of time to reflect on his success in the new year, as in just about the only race he didn’t win on Friday, he managed to pick up a six meeting ban.

Busan Jockeys’ Championship 2008 – Final Standings

1. Toshio Uchida – 69
2. Chae Gyu Jun – 55
3. Yoo Hyun Myoung – 54
4. Ahn Sun Ho – 43
5. Jo Chan Hoon – 40

It was a mixed year for overseas riders. At Seoul, the Japanese pair of Ikuyasu Kurakane and Nozomu Tomizawa, both extended their contracts to see the year out and finished on 44 and 32 wins respectively. At Busan, aside from Uchida, Kazuyuki Watase performed reasonably well in his short spell during the summer. After three months his contract wasn’t renewed, however, and Eiki Nishimura was brought in to replace him. Nishimura has four winners so far but is currently sidelined after failing a random breath test.

For the non-Japanese riders, it was not a good year. Danny Craven completed a solid nine months, returning to Australia in July, however, South African Chris Taylor returned home after only a month. Another South African, Deryl Daniels made a creditable start to his stint at Busan but left Korea for a break towards the end of November and it is looking unlikely he will return. While it was sad to see those jockeys unable to do themselves justice, no one bemoaned the loss of Willie Uys who lasted one day and is best forgotton. The KRA continues to advertise for overseas jockeys (see below) and has received some interest. However, the departing jockeys have all spoken of the difficulties faced by overseas riders, the language, the schooling of the horses and, most fundamentally for a jockey on a freelance contract, the lack of rides they received

Jeju Race Park based Na Yoo Na was the most successful female jockey, notching 24 wins, one ahead of Kim Joo Hee. Lee Shin Young at Seoul landed 9 wins early in the year before having her season ended by injury but it was a year to forget for Lee Ae Li who managed just 3. Park Jin Hee at Busan finished the year with 16.

* Overseas jockeys wishing to apply to ride in Korea can download the relevant forms from the KRA’s English website. Click Here for details and here for the application form.

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