Just three new apprentices make up the class of 2009 set to join the jockey ranks at Seoul Race Park this month. Park Sang Woo, Lee Ki Woong and Kim Hye Sun graduated from the Jockey’s Academy in Wondang last month (should anybody be interested, the ceremony can be viewed here). Park joins top trainer Park Dae Heung while Lee will be attached to Son Young Pyo. Kim, who will take the number of female jockeys currently in action at Seoul to four, will join trainer Jung Ho Ik.
The standard of riding in Korea has been on the up recently. While the bringing to Korea of foreign jockeys has, by and large been botched, another aspect of the KRA Internationalization program has brought success. The addition of a South African riding instructor would seem to have had a postive effect on the training of young jockeys. Almost all of last year’s apprentices have been able to establish themselves with all seemingly respected by punters. Seven apprentices debuted last June, here’s how they’ve been getting on in order of winners:
Name – Rides/1st/2nd/3rd
Lee Sang Hyuk – 198/18/12/15
Kim Cheol Ho – 211/16/16/18
Jo In Kwen – 151/14/8/12
Park Si Cheon – 193/13/10/18
Park Byoung Yun – 194/11/16/18
Kim Dong Min – 179/9/12/14
Yoo Mi Ra – 95/0/4/3
Of course the quality of rides that they have had has varied but Lee Sang Hyuk did enough to get a ride in the Grand Prix race last December and som of the others have also found themselves trusted with big mounts. Yoo Mi Ra remains winless although on the sole occasion she has found herself riding a favourite, she was edged out by a neck by none other than Park Tae Jong.
Meanwhile, another Japanese jockey looks set to join at Seoul shortly.