In what is great news for punters but less so for local jockeys, Joe Fujii is set to return to race riding this week having been passed fit after five months on the sidelines with a shoulder injury suffered in a nasty fall in early July.
Fujii fell from gelding Hybrid in race 4 on July 6 and while initially it was hoped that he would only be out for up to three months, surgery and a long period of recuperation was required.
Despite being out for half the season, Fujii still lies in 7th place in the Busan Jockey Championship. Since coming to Korea in 2012, he has won a host of big races including the Korean Derby, the Oaks and the Grand Prix Stakes. He’s already booked to ride Magic Dancer in this year’s event at Seoul Racecourse on December 14.
Fujii hasn’t wasted his time off. As well as spending time in his native Japan, he toured Europe, spending time at Darryll Holland’s yard in Newmarket and also visited Hong Kong, taking in some big race meetings and even getting in the local media:
What punters care about though is his strike rate and with 29% of his mounts making the quinella and 44% in the top three, he is the go-to man for many and Singaporean punters will also get to benefit from his services when regular Friday simulcasting from Busan begins this month.
Fujii will rejoin Busan at the head of what is now a sizeable Japanese contingent. Masa Tanaka is one place behind him in the Jockey Championship. Nozomu Tomizawa, who had a successful stint at Seoul five years ago recently came back to Korea and is gradually getting into the swing of things while Hitoshi Oyama has been given a license from this month. Oyama is married to Hitomi Miyashita, who had a very successful time riding at Busan five years ago.
Ikuyasu Kurakane is currently booting home winners at Seoul and the return of Fujii will be celebrated in the betting ring this coming Friday.