It was supposed to rain all weekend. Instead, racegoers who took their umbrellas ended up using them as parasols as Seoul basked in perfect conditions for punting.
And Sunday was a very good day for Seoul Race Park’s sole foreign jockey as Toshiyuki Katoh landed a quick-fire double in races 5 & 6. Approaching the first anniversary of his Korean debut, the Japanese rider had only been successful on seven occasions before today. However, strong rides, first on filly Wink and then, a race later on Dongbang Jinju.
Like all foreign riders before him at Seoul, Katoh has struggled to get rides, let alone good ones. When he has been given horses with chances, he hasn’t let anybody down.
Down at Busan, where things have been better for overseas riders – in terms of opportunities anyway – there was more success today for the Japanese contingent. Kunihisa Hirase guided old-stager Wonder Love to a two and a half length victory in the feature race.
The now eight-year old Wonder Love made his debut in December 2004, just three months after the track opened. While the pinnacle of his career was victory in the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup in 2008 his performance today, ahead of a field including King Kephalos (who returned lame), Haengbok Dream and fellow old-timer Golding, showed he still has plenty to offer.
In other races at Seoul, there was a useful win for US import Bop’s Punch – the four-year old getting the better of a photo-finish with Mistergolden to secure his first victory at class 2. Meanwhile, three-year old filly Magic Collar scored her first victory at class 3 and her fourth from eight starts overall – a tilt at the Oaks may be possible.
* The most valuable race of the weekend at Seoul took place on Saturday. With likely favourite Taesanbukdu a late scratching, it was left to Ugildongja to take the honours for jockey Ham Wan Sik.