Park Jae Ho Joins Eiki At Arao
Busan based jockey Park Jae Ho has taken up a short-term license in Japan. Park has been granted a three-month license by the National Association of Racing (NAR) to ride at the Arao Racecourse where he will be sponsored by trainer Hikoji Sakatani. He can also ride at Saga Racecourse, both located in Japan’s southern island of Kyushu.
Although a solid rider, Park Jae Ho has never been one of Busan’s stars with just thirty-eight winners to his name. Able to speak Japanese, however, he befriended jockey Eiki Nishimura who spent 2009 riding at Busan and the Japanese rider encouraged Park to apply for a license after he himself returned to Arao this year.
Eiki had an up and down time in Korea. After a slow start, his big breakthrough came as regular rider of Sangseung Ilro, culminating in the filly’s shock win in the KRA Cup Mile, the first leg of the Korea Triple Crown. However, winning the track’s richest race of the year earned him the ire of a number of local jockeys who declared that he – and South African Martin Wepner – were, in time-honoured fashion, taking “their money”.
Pressure applied by jockeys at Busan, and the powerful Seoul Jockeys’ Union led to trainer Kim Young Kwan dropping Eiki in favour of Jo Sung Gon for the Korean Derby last May, which Sangseung Ilro would go on to win. Wepner and more recently another talented visiting jockey Hitomi Miyashita, have continued to be a focus for local discontent.
Park made his debut at Arao last Thursday with four rides. His best finish was a third place in a race won by Eiki. All credit to him for seeking to broaden his experience. Let’s hope he doesn’t deprive the locals of their no doubt rightful money.