With no racing this weekend and a month gone of the new season, it’s time to take a belated look back at 2010. Last week, the Korean Racing Journal, Korea’s most authoritative racing newspaper (in Gyongmaman’s opinion anyway as he likes to bet their “dark horse” predictions) published their annual award winners. There were numerous categories up for grabs along with some special awards too. One thing to note is that no horse could win more than one category.
Horse Of The Year: Tough Win
He was beaten in the season-ending Grand Prix but before that won six straight races in 2010 including the Busan Metropolitan and the KRA Cup Classic. While Mister Park remained unbeaten, the quality of opposition Tough Win defeated up until the Grand Prix was superior. Doubts about his staying ability appear to have been confirmed by his defeat in his 2011 debut but in 2010, Tough Win was a worthy Horse Of The Year.
Male Horse Of The Year: Mister Park
It was a toss-up between him and Tough Win as to who would take the big prize but Mister Park is both the present and the future of Korean racing. His win in the Grand Prix in December capped an unbeaten nine races in 2010. He wasn’t eligible for the Triple Crown by virtue of having been sired overseas, however, the sire in question, Ecton Park, is now in Korea and his progeny are eagerly awaited.
Champion Filly & Mare: Sangseung Ilro
A remarkable filly, the winner of two legs of the Triple Crown in 2009, Sangseung Ilro takes this crown for the second year running. She has fragile legs and has to be campaigned very sensibly but was kept in training instead of being rushed off to the breeding shed. She ran seven times in 2010, capturing two Stakes victories along the way and she will go down as one of the best fillies or mares in Korean racing history.
Champion Three Year Old (open): Dangdae Bulpae
He struggled in the KRA Cup Mile and finished third in the Derby but came good in the autumn as he landed the Minister’s Cup – the final leg of the Triple Crown – at Seoul in October, before returning to the capital a month later to defeat older horses in the President’s Cup. While Seoul’s two most talented three-year olds of 2010, Money Car and Northern Ace, found their careers tragically curtailed, Dangdae Bulpae remains a worthy winner of this award.
Champion Three Year Old (Korean): Cheonnyeon Daero
A bit of a stretch to split to award for champion three-year old between two Korean breds but Cheonnyeon Daero won the korean Derby and has gone on to show that was no fluke by landing the Busan Owner’s Cup at the end of the year.
Champion Trainer: Shin Woo Chul
With Tough Win and Dongbang Rose leading the way, the vetearn Soul handler scored 64 wins in 2010
Champion Jockey: Cho Kyoung Ho
While the talent may be at Busan, the competition is unquestionably at Seoul. A late season suspension to Moon Se Young helped but Cho Kyoung Ho finally claimed his first jockeys; championship with 120 winner.
Champion Owner: Tamna Feed Co.
A corporate owner wins this for the first time. Tough Win is the best known of a slew of winners for the Jeju based feed company. While feed companies have an obvious interest in sponsoring race horses, in recent years companies from other industries have become involved too, with IT, Construction and Cosmetic companies joining Shinhan Bank in owning racehorses. How the feed companies deal with their retired horses will be watched very very closely.
Champion Breeder: Seongsu Farm
The farm, based in Icheon, Gyeonggi Province, didn’t produce any big race winners this year but its mares are responsible for the likes of Gi Ra Seong, Good Day, Triple Sinhwa, Forest Wind and Breeders’ Cup first and second Sun Hero and Sun Blaze.
Special Awards: In addition to the regular prizes, some special awards were also handed out.
Lifetime Achievement: Kim Gui Bae
The longest-serving jockey in the weighing room, Kim Gui Bae had something of a renaissance in the latter part of 2010. While in the rest of the world it might be common for a jockey to have a career of thirty plus years, in Korea it is unheard of. Kim Gui Bae debuted in 1979 and is one of only three current riders (along with Park Tae Jong and Shin Hyung Chul) to have ridden at the old Ttukseom Race Park.
Special Award: Kim Seung Pyeong
A KRA employee at Busan, Kim Seung Pyeong was recognised for his work on IT systems.
Special Award: Sorabol College
This Higher Education institute located in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province was recognised for its horse welfare course which specialises in training people to look after racehorses. A significant number of grooms at the Seoul and Busan Race Courses have been through this program
Special Award: Korea Horse Affairs High School
Staying with the education theme, this specialist high school was set up in North Jeolla Province in 2003 and is playing a key role in the development of young jockeys. Kim Cheol Ho, Park Byeong Yun, Jo In Kwen, Lee Gi Woong and Jang Chu Yeol are graduates who are making their way in the jockey ranks at Seoul Race Park.