K Pop (Vicar) came home on top in race 5 at the Penang Turf Club in Malaysia last Saturday to become the first Korean bred horse to win a race in that country and in the process record an important milestone for the Korean breeding industry.
A 4-year old gelding, K Pop was one of three horses exported from Korea to Malaysia in 2011. They were followed by six more in 2012. K Pop was making his 5th start and had one previous 2nd place finish to his name before last Saturday’s win. His time was 4 seconds quicker than the Seoul Racecourse record for the same distance of 1700 metres although it was on turf.
The KRA began its breeding program in the early 1990’s, however, the three sent to Malaysia in 2011 were the first to be commercially exported. The KRA has set a target of 50 horses per year to be exported by 2020, primarily to Macau and Malaysia, however the long-term goal is to break into the potentially huge market of the gargantuan neighbour to the West of the Korean peninsula.
Last year, Feel So Good (Ft.Stockton) became the first Korean bred horse to win a race in the United States. However, like a number of Korean horses each year, he had been sent there for training purposes and was brought home shortly afterwards.
K Pop is different and many involved in the breeding industry here will have been celebrating his win. As for K Pop himself, he celebrated breaking his maiden by promptly dumping his apprentice jockey onto the track as soon as they crossed the line.