Champion jockey leaves early / Ikuyasu to go to Busan
Busan Race Park’s first cards of 2009 have been published and one notable absentee is 2008 Champion Jockey Toshio Uchida. The Japanese star has returned to his homeland a week before his contract at Busan officially expires. Uchida has indicated that he wishes to return to Korea in May and that he needs to spend time in Japan to ensure his riding license there can be renewed.
The news comes as a disappointment to punters throughout the peninsula. In his short time at Busan, Uchida has demonstrated the impact a truly top class jockey can have on a horse and has set a standard that local jockeys can aspire to. Having said that, it is unlikely that any of them will miss his presence in the winner’s circle. Whether he will actually return after such a long break though, be it to Busan or even to Seoul, is anyone’s guess.
Ikuyasu Kurakane will relocate from Seoul to Busan with immediate effect, making his debut on Friday partnering Beongae Boy in the feature handicap. Another Japanese rider, Eiki Nishimura has had his contract renewed, despite his current ban for failing a breath test but he, like both Uchida and Kurakane, will need to return to Japan at some point in the near future to renew his license.
Deryl Daniels is not expected back at Busan. Another South African, Petrus Botha, has a license but is yet to arrive in Korea, the jockey seemingly having second thoughts. A third South African also looks to be on the cards over the next month or so. Uchida leaves a hard act to follow, however, and punters will be missing “Mr Pink” when the first race of 2009 comes under orders at one ‘o clock on Friday afternoon.