Joe Fujii became just the third ever foreign rider to reach 100 winners in Korea as he completed a double at Busan Racecourse this afternoon.
The Japanese jockey’s milestone came in race 11 as he partnered 4/1 chance Heba (Peace Rules) to victory.
That win – his second of the day – enabled Fujii to join his fellow countrymen Ikuyasu Kurakane and Toshio Uchida as century-getters in Korea.
His 100 includes some of Korea’s biggest races. He won the Grand Prix Stakes on Gamdonguibada last year and followed up with a Korean Derby and Korean Oaks double on Speedy First in 2013.
Joe – “Kanichiro” – Fujii has never ridden in his homeland of Japan, having travelled to Australia as a teenager to train as a jockey.
He narrowly missed out in the JRA exam this year and Japan’s loss is Korea’s gain as he continues to be the most in-demand jockey at Busan.
A highly professional rider, Fujii is also a highly likeable character who is a real student of horse racing.
One of very few foreign riders to have studied racing in Korea in detail before making the move here, he’s managed to not only become number 1 to Korea’s top trainer Kim Young Kwan, but also to achieve the almost impossible – to be liked by the local jockeys (although of course they would still love to see him depart).
His diligence has been reaping rewards with winners ever since he arrived and there’s no sign of it stopping.