Day: August 10, 2011

Seventh International Jockey Challenge Set For This Weekend In Seoul

Riders from Australia, South Africa, Ireland, Turkey, Japan and Malaysia in town to take on home team

It’s that time of year again! The KRA mobilises its fleet of interpreters, punters look on in bemusement, and the local Jockey Union grits its teeth and stamps its feet at those foreigners taking our money! Yes, it’s the 7th International Jockey Invitational Challenge.

The International Jockey Challenge promoted on the Big Screen at Seoul last week

Six overseas riders will take on six Koreans for a $20,000 individual prize plus an overall team prize in four races over the weekend, culminating in Sunday night’s YTN Stakes. Home jockeys have dominated over the past two years, mainly die to luck of the draw for rides. This year’s draw takes place on Thursday and we’ll have a full run-down on respective riders’ chances over the next couple of days. In the meantime, here’s who’s in town:

International

As usual its a mixture of veterans and up and comers. The KRA has close links with all the national racing associations who are sending jockeys, however, for the first time in the event’s seven-year hstory, there will be no competitor from the USA. Here is a rundown of the international team (Name (age) – Country – Experience – Rides/wins/seconds/thirds):

Ahmet Celik (24) – Turkey – 7 years – 4661/510/522/503

Has recent experience in these kinds of challenges being part of the Turkish team that saw off the likes of Johnny Murtagh and Olivier Peslier in a Jockey Challenge at Veliefendi Racecourse in Istanbul last month.

Rory Cleary (24) – Ireland – 7 years – 3012/161/155/186

From a racing family, Cleary has ridden winners in multiple Listed races in ultra-competitive Irish racing, Cleary follows the likes of Wayne Lordan and Pat Shanahan in representing Ireland in Korea. See here for a detailed biography from Horse Racing Ireland.

Aldo Domeyer (24) – South Africa – 4 years – 2288/194/204/193

A Champion apprentice in South Africa, Domeyer is nicknamed “The Candy Kid” after his Champion Jockey father “The Candyman” Andrew Fortune, Here is an interview with TAB Online from last year in which he cites Muzi Yeni, who competed in last year’s challenge, as one of his role-models.

Dwayne Dunn (38) – Australia – 22 years – 6656/876/2-3 1454

Now considered a veteran, Dunn has won many top class races including the Caulfield Cup and four consecutive victories in the Blue Diamond Stakes. Dunn has also ridden in Hong Kong.

Yoshihiro Furakawa (34) – Japan – 15 years – 5093/267/329/351

The experienced Furukawa’s biggest wins in his homeland have come in the 2009 Queen’s Stakes and the 1997 Hanshin Sansai Himba Stakes. Last year’s Japanese entrant, Syu Ishibashi won the final leg of the challenge, the YTN Cup, which again provides the Stakes finale on SUnday evening.

Ronald Woodworth (38) – Malaysia – 17 years – 5266/546/524/528

The only visitor to have ridden in Korea before, Woodworth came to Seoul in 2008 to ride in the Selangor Turf Club Trophy. During his career in Malaysia and Singapore, Woodworth has ridden 24 Stakes winners.

Korea

The home side sends out pretty much its “A-Team”. As usual, Park Tae Jong heads the list of usual suspects. Jo In Kwen, currently enjoying a breakthrough season in fourth place in the title race, joins the team for the first time.

Park Tae Jong (45) – 24 years – 10800/1696/1541/1289
Shin Hyoung Chul (44) – 23 years – 5494/583/602/547
Cho Kyoung Ho (35) – 10 years – 3804/648/534/411
Moon Se Young (30) – 10 years – 3526/608/478/410
Oh Kyoung Hoan (31) – 12 years – 2541/251/235/226
Jo In Kwen (24) – 3 years – 916/115/97/77

The challenge consists of four races – two each on Saturday and Sunday – culminating in the YTN Cup Stakes on Sunday evening. They are:

Saturday August 13: Race 6 – 16:50 – 1400M
Saturday August 13: Race 9 – 19:20 – 1900M
Sunday August 14: Race 6 – 16:35 – 1400M
Sunday August 14: Race 9 – 19:10 – 1900M (YTN Cup Stakes)

Jockerys receive 20 points for a win, 15 for second and then it decreases in increments of three down to sixth place.

* UPDATE (Aug 11) – Race cards have been published for this weekend and, contrary to the original schedule released by the KRA, the international jockeys will only take part in one race on each day – race 9 on both Saturday and Sunday.

New Yeongcheon Racecourse Approved But Punters May Pay

All regulatory requirements have been fulfilled and Korea’s third thoroughbred racecourse will definitely be built at Yeongcheon.

The site in Yeongcheon that will be a racecourse by 2014

The site in North Gyeongsang Province was selected by the Korea Racing Authority (KRA) in February 2010 and the planning and approval process is now complete. However, in exchange for granting another track, the regulator has demanded further draconian restrictions on gambling on horse racing.

To start with, the KRA will have to close one off-track betting site this year and a further two next year if Yeongcheon is to be able to open in 2014. The KRA currently maintains 34 off-track betting “Plazas” in towns and cities across Korea in order to provide a legal betting outlet for punters who cannot get to the tracks in Seoul and Busan. Anecdotal evidence suggests that illegal betting houses have been more than happy to fill the void in areas where no legal outlets are available, especially since the regulator-enforced closure of the K-Netz online and phone betting platform two years ago. Depressingly, this looks set to increase.

Secondly, and perhaps more fundamentally, the KRA is to agree to press ahead with requirements for all legal punters to be issued with an electronic ID card which will record all transactions they make at the track. The idea, which has been in trials since last year, is ostensibly to identify potential problem gamblers at an early stage and to prevent punters exceeding the 100,000 won per race bet limit by visiting multiple betting windows or terminals. On the plus side, there are suggestions that it may also be used as a “mileage card” whereby punters will get a 1% rebate on all wagers.

Naturally the massive amount of personal information it will collect nor the big juicy contracts to be handed out for setting up and administering the scheme have nothing to do with it.

So it looks like we are set for Yeongcheon – out in the middle of nowhere somewhere in the vague vicinity of Daegu. It isn’t the most logical place to put a racetrack but then neither was the inaccessible site where they decided to build the Busan track. And neither was the place where they decided to build the Jangsu Training Centre in Jeolla Province (levelling half a mountain in the process instead of going somewhere flat). However, those planning decisions worked out very well for some people. No doubt Yeongcheon will too.