Korean races are going to start to look rather different from April with the long-standing tradition in the country of jockeys wearing their own silks being phased out as Owners finally get to see their horses run in colours of their choosing.
On the one hand, jockeys having their own colours makes Korean racing very accessible and easy to pick up. Punters have little difficulty picking out the mount of Moon Se Young, Park Tae Jong or Djordje Perovic because they are always wearing the same thing. Toshio Uchida built his reputation in the NAR (another jurisdiction that still uses jockey colours) in Japan as “Mr. Pink” and continued it in Korea.
On the other hand, as Korea seeks to slowly come in line with other racing jurisdictions, it seems a natural progression. While owners in the country are some of the most fortunate in the world – prize money and subsidies are generous to the extent that it is almost difficult to lose money as an owner – racehorse ownership still isn’t seen as something to mention in polite society. Win pictures are only produced after Stakes races. After all, what’s the point of posing with a jockey wearing his own silks and not yours? Maybe this will change.
Another plus to the change is that many of the current jockey silks are brazenly copied from well-known colours overseas. That was fine when nobody else was watching racing here but that is changing too.
For punters’ convenience, owners will only get to select a jacket design as the caps will still correspond to gate number. As further help for viewers, an on-screen tracking system, called “K-Track” has also been recently launched at Seoul and if successful, will be extended to Busan within the next year.
Except for new owners it isn’t compulsory and as of now, seventeen owners at Seoul and ten at Busan have selected colours. They include foreign owners Joe Dallao, Barry Irwin and the Yoshidas. It’s expected that as more see it in action, more will register their own. At Busan on Friday, two owners with their own colours have horses running.