Three Go Free

Bang, Moon, Jung go freelance / Park Soo Hong warned off
Three more jockeys have taken on freelance status at Seoul Race Park bringing the total number of unattached riders to twenty out of the sixty-one currently holding a license. Bang Choon Sik, Moon Jung Kyun and Jung Ki Young are the latest to go it alone.

The main benefit to being freelance is that the jockey can ride in as many races per week as he can find a mount for. Jockeys who are attached to a stable are limited to a maximum of five race rides per week. Figures released by the KRA last year showed that freelance jockeys had an average of 9.6 mounts per week whereas stable jockeys had 3.4. Average earnings for freelancers was over KRW 12 Million per month compared with KRW 5 Million per month for retained riders.

The figures do hide a disparity between the freelancers, however. The top freelance jockeys, such as Moon Se Young or Park Tae Jong, who will pick up a ride in nearly every race over a weekend – a large proportion of them well-fancied – will earn much more whereas most will earn far less.

This has particularly been true for the overseas riders who have often struggled to get mounts in their early days in Korea. All overseas riders are given freelance status and while it can work out very well, as for Toshio Uchida and now Ikuyasu Kurakane at Busan, it can take a long time to get established. With the race fee less than KRW 60,000 per ride, freelance jockeys need to consistently be getting quality rides to make ends meet.

In other jockey news, Park Soo Hong, who rode Subsidy to victory in the 2005 Owner’s Trophy and Grand Prix races, has been permanently warned off by the KRA for passing on inside information. Local media reported at the weekend that thirty four year old Park confessed to police that he accepted money for information. A groom and a trainer also found to have been involved, were handed lesser penalties.

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