Day: June 5, 2010

Kim Tae Hee Saddles-Up At Seoul

Punters had a treat at Seoul Race Park this afternoon as actress Kim Tae Hee donned racing silks and a pair of impossibly tight riding trousers to shoot scenes for upcoming movie “Grand Prix”.

Kim Tae Hee waits to get on

For two weeks now, the racetrack has been decked out in flags and banners for the production. Today an extra number 9 horse – complete with a ribbon in its tail – joined the runners in the paddock prior to race 9.

Best legs in the paddock - Kim Tae Hee

Kim emerged from the tunnel along with the jockeys and, after a little difficulty as her mount was playing-up, was given a leg-up by a lucky groom. She then completed a lap of the paddock and followed the rest of the horses back into into the track-bound tunnel.

Kim Tae Hee - once up she certainly looked the part

To their credit, punters refrained from the abuse they normally greet any newcomers to the paddock with and Kim, for her part, certainly looked assured in the saddle.

Grand Prix, which is part funded by the Korea Racing Authority is scheduled for an autumn release. It’s production was disrupted when the original male lead, Lee Jun Ki, was hauled off to military service with a month of filming already complete. He has since been replaced by Yang Dong Kun.

The officially released pictures of shooting so far have shown sad faces so it is likely that the movie will be a traditional Korean melodrama/love story; indeed Allkpop reports that Kim’s character moves to Jeju Island after her horse dies where she meets fellow jockey and love-interest Yang. Nevertheless, like Gak-seol-tang before it, the movie looks set to introduce racing to a wider audience and its release is eagerly awaited.

Kim Tae Hee

Park Tae Jong 1600 Up

Korea’s most successful ever jockey reached another milestone at Seoul Race Park this afternoon as Park Tae Jong rode his 1600th career winner.

Park Tae Jong - 1600 up but still doesn't smile a lot

Park started the day on 1598 but took race 1 on Daejiuichukje before guiding third-favourite Gwangsokcheoreom to a half-length victory in race 7 to reach the 1600 mark. Half an hour later it was 1601 with Haetbitbeonjjeok a three-length winner in race 8.  He wasn’t finished there either as victory on hot favourite Summa Cum Laude in race 10 meant he ended the day with four winners.

The forty-four year old Park gained his license in 1987 at the old Seoul Race Park at Ttukseom. During his career he has won three Korean Derbies as well as the Grand Prix and Minister’s Cup. In April, he partnered Money Car to the KRA Cup Mile before the pair finished second in the Derby.

Park Tae Jong about to take Gwangsokchereom (No.2) into the lead to secure his 1600th career win

While 1600 winners is not a lot in terms of world racing, Park has achieved the figure from just over 10,000 race rides. Not only can he only race two days a week in Korea but, until the freelance jockey system came into effect a few years ago he, like every other jockey, was restricted to just five race rides per weekend.

While most of his contemporaries who gained licenses in the late 1980s – Chun Chang Ki, Ahn Byung Ki and Kim Hyo Seob – have recently taken up training licenses, If Park’s desire remains strong, there is no reason why he can’t reach 2000 winners before he finally calls it a day.