It wasn’t the best of weeks publicity wise for Korean Racing. The highest profile instance was last Sunday evening when one of the country’s most-watched TV news magazine programs, MBC TV’s “Sisa Magazine 2580”, produced a 15-minute segment on the KRA’s new race plan and specifically the objections to it from breeders, owners and trainers.
Those objections centre around the removal, with the exception of some Graded and Listed events, of separate races for domestic-bred horses at class 1 and class 2 level coupled with the raising of the limit that can spend on importing racehorses (now up to $50,000 for colts and geldings and no limit at all for fillies) and the potential impact of this on the domestic breeding industry.
A lack of consultation and the perceived high-handed way in which it was introduced came in for strong criticism during the program.
Additionally, the program alleged that messages left on the KRA’s “voice of customer” section in support of the new system were posted from computers with IP addresses belonging to the Authority itself, (internet commenters pretending to be somewhere or something they are not has become a somewhat hot issue in Korea over the past couple of years following some high profile political cases). While it is not 100% impossible that these were punters in the Seoul Racecourse Internet Cafe expressing their admiration of the Authority, viewers will have drawn their own conclusions.
The MBC program came one day after cable channel JTBC, was among media outlets reporting that a jockey, described as being a “20-year veteran” was under investigation for allegedly accepting money in exchange for providing information to illegal gambling interests. As a criminal investigation is underway, the jockey in question can’t be named in Korea for legal reasons.
There was some good coverage too; a video went viral in Korea of a horse used to pull tourist carriages being beaten by its owner (caution, link shows distressing scenes). The KRA tracked down the horse and rescued it. All good, however, the goodwill generated by that episode will likely have been lost over the week.
All in all, is is good to get back to racing this weekend.