The oldest and the youngest jockeys in the weighing room both had an enjoyable day in the autumn sunshine at Seoul Race Park this afternoon. Veteran Kim Gui Bae landed a rare double, while apprentice Kim Jeong Jun recorded his first ever race win.
Kim Gui Bae has never been a prolific winner or even rider. He rode his first race in 1979 at the old Seoul Racecourse at Ttukseom and it was there where he had his biggest win, riding Po Gyeong Seon to victory in the 1986 Grand Prix. One of Korean racing’s most famous names, Po Gyeong Seon won twenty of his twenty-five starts and had already won the 1985 Grand Prix. Kim would win on him six times.
Four of the jockeys behind Kim and Po Gyeong Seon that day are now trainers but Kim remains one of a dwindling few – Park Tae Jong and Shin Hyung Chul the only others – to have begun their riding careers at Ttukseom and still be in the saddle today. Winners have not been easy to come by for Kim. Today he guided home Pungnim in race 6 and Race Terror in race 9 to take him, after 31 years of work, to 279 career victories. Punters,
Racing in Korea has changed a lot since Kim Gui Bae started out. He rode in his first race at the age of 17 which, while common around the world, can’t happen in Korea any more. Now all potential jockeys must graduate from the KRA’s jockey academy which means a young jockey won’t be granted a license until they are in their early to mid twenties. The academy, which includes foreign trainers, is designed to improve the standard of riding in Korea and seems to be working. The likes of Jo In Kwen and Lee Sang Hyuk are both, with only two years of experience, established big race riders.
This year there were four graduates from the academy. While Lee Gang Seo and Jang Chu Yeol had already tasted victory, today it was the turn of a third, as Kim Jeong Jun guided US-bred filly Skiff’s Chic (With Distinction) to a three-length triumph in race 2.
* Racing returns to Seoul tomorrow when it is the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup – Seoul’s richest race of the year for fillies & mares. In action among full field of fourteen are Baekpa, Lucky Mountain, Euro-Fighter and Cheonun.