Ham Wan Sik landed his 400th career winner today but it’s Seo Seung Un who continues to make the headlines.
The young jockey became the quickest in modern times to reach 25 winners and seems sure to become the first apprentice jockey to ride out his weight allowance in his first year in the saddle.
Seo, who debuted last August, landed a double on his first weekend and hasn’t looked back since. Last Saturday he scored a “true treble”, with wins in races 6, 7, and 8 – something the vast majority of Korean jockeys go through their careers without doing.
Today he was in top form, guiding Magic Light (Exploit) to victory by a head in race 7.
Twenty-two year old Seo is fourth in this year’s Jockeys’ Championship and is already being touted by the Korean racing press as potentially the best riding talent to emerge from the country.
The real test will come when he loses his weight allowance. New apprentice jockeys start with a 4 kilo advantage, losing a kilo for every ten winners (there is no time limit on this) and then they are left to compete with the very best for rides. On all the evidence so far, this will not be a problem for Seo Seung Un.
Ham Wan Sik is a jockey who has had a lot of tests to overcome since he gained his license fourteen years ago.
One of the taller riders in the weighing room, Ham faces a constant struggle to keep his weight down and his fluctuating minimum weight has, on occasion, caused problems for him. Today, however, he became one of a select few jockeys in Korea to pass the milestone of 400 career winners.
It came in race 7 on the aptly named Bulls Eye (Ingrandire) and he quickly followed up with number 401 on Holy Moely (Nihon Pillow Neil) in race 10.
Ham Wan Sik debuted in 1998 and has three Stakes wins to his name, the biggest being the 2007 Owners’ Association Trophy, which he won on Gwacheon Ruler. His best year in terms of winners was in 2006 when he scored 53.
Indeed, it is possible that Ham’s silks are better known than he is. In Korea, jockeys wear their own colours and Ham’s appeared in the 2006 racing movie Gakseoltang and also in 2011’s Champ, where he was referred to by name as being a friend of the lead character. Today though, he was recognised for what he does on the track.
Racing returns to Seoul on Sunday and it is a big day as 2011 Grand Prix Stakes winner Tough Win make his season debut.