Busan and Seoul will both have a new overseas jockey joining them from March. Martin Wepner arrived in Korea last week and will be based at Busan Race Park while fellow South African Stephan Swanepoel will ride at Seoul Race Park.
Wepner is 37 years old and has spent most of his recent career in Malaysia where he was Champion jockey in 2006. Swanepoel has ridden in Qatar as well as South Africa and Mauritius. Wepner arrived in Korea last week and may well make his racing debut this coming weekend. Swanepoel’s licence period begins on March 1. Joining Wepner at Busan will be three South African trackwork riders.
As has been written on this site before, overseas jockeys have struggled to establish themselves in Korea with Seoul in particular proving a tough place to ride. In 2008, South Africans Chris Taylor and Deryl Daniels both returned home after short stays. American Santos Chavez made his debut earlier this month, getting his first winner last weekend and is gradually picking up rides. Like Chavez, Wepner has a light riding weight so may find himself with more opportunities. With the worst of the winter now likely out of the way, both jockeys are joining at the ideal time to give themselves the best possible chance of making an impact.
Stephan Swanepoel recently gave a short interview to SAHorseracing.com regarding his decision to come to Korea.