It hadn’t been the easiest of starts to riding in Korea for Nicola Pinna but things came right for the Italian jockey at Seoul Racecourse on Saturday as he rode a double, including victory in the feature race on Bichui Jeongsang who downed Asia Challenge Cup winner Choegang Schiller in a tight finish.
Pinna couldn’t make weight on the first of his scheduled mounts a few weeks ago and was handed an automatic two-day ban for his troubles. It meant that despite having been in the country a month, prior to today, he had only had three rides.
Today it came right though. Pinna made his breakthrough on 3/1 second favourite Hwangnyongbisang, who scored a two-length victory in race 8. However, by far the best was yet to come.
Choegang Schiller (Artie Schiller) beat Singapore’s El Padrino to win the Asia Challenge Cup in a track record time at the end of August. The three-year-old hadn’t run since then and was sent-off the hot favourite to repeat today with regular jockey Lee Chan Ho riding. Third-favourite was Bichui Jeongsang (Wildcat Heir), a four-year-old filly, who had won five of fifteen career starts and was 3rd to Esmeraldina in the Ttukseom Cup.
With Pinna in the saddle, Bichui Jeongsang wasn’t quickly away but improved around the home turn to come shoulder to shoulder with Choegang Schiller entering the home straight. That would be how they would remain for a keenly-fought tussle through the final two furlongs that went all the way to the line. It looked at one point as Choegang Schiller had it but Pinna coaxed out one last effort from his mount to get her home a neck in front.
Punters second-choice Bear Queen Trophy was a distant third but may as well have been running a different race, so dominant the first two were. The winning time was just one-tenth of a second outside the mark that Choegang Schiller set in the Asia Challenge Cup. The win could be a boost for Bichui Jeongsang’s connections ambition to race her overseas early next year.
A day can make a big difference and all of a sudden, 27-year-old Pinna now has two wins from just seven mounts and really showed his quality in that second win. He has five more rides tomorrow. Fellow Italian-licensed rider Djordje Perovic meanwhile guided home his 38th Korean winner earlier in the day and is now joint-leading jockey at Seoul for the month of November. While Perovic can do a kilo lighter, more rides like the one on Bichui Jeongsang and Nicola Pinna could well be challenging him in the near future.