Bart Rice has reached a well-deserved landmark. The South African trainer saddled his 100th Korean winner at Busan Racecourse last Friday.
Rice had been on 99 winners since mid-April having had some near-misses but it only took until the first race on Friday to put that right as filly Jeonsaui Huye (Peace Rules) justified her odds-on tag to land her maiden victory under Chae Sang Hyun. Win number 101 wasn’t far off too as the same jockey guided Que Sera Sera (Concept Win) home in front in race 6.
The third foreign trainer to be licensed in Korea following Peter Wolsley and Joe Murphy, Rice arrived at the end of autumn 2013 and spent time building up his stable before sending out his first runners in late January 2014. He won with his first starter:
That established an impressive strike rate that has continued right up to the present day. Jeonsaui Huye was Rice’s 632nd Korean starter making for a win rate that stands now at 15.8% overall and 18.8% for the past year. No fewer than 40% of his runners in the past year (and 37.4% overall) have placed in the first three. He was 5th in the Trainer’s Championship in 2016 and currently lies in 7th place this term.
Rice has also been involved with what is a new concept in Korea – foreign ownership – saddling winners for both Joe Dallao and Barry Irwin. The Team Valor green and red aren’t the only famous colours his string sport, however, as top Korean owner Choi Byung Bu (of Triple Nine fame) has also sent a horse Rice’s way; Triple Five, who the trainer took to Kranji in Singapore to run in the KRA Trophy last year.
Bart Rice, who will turn 41 later this year, now has 33 horses under his care at Busan. He may be yet to win a Stakes race but that is surely only a matter of time and along with fellow expat trainers Peter Wolsley and Thomas Gillespie (and recently joined by David Miller), Rice is contributing to significantly raising the standard of competition at Busan. That’s true for jockeys too as apprentice Choi Eun Gyeung, the first Korean female rider to be assigned at Busan for many years, has landed on her feet in being attached to Rice’s stable.
So it’s 101 up for Bart Rice. He has a horse in his stable called “For Bart“. While that particular one may not have done a lot in his only start to date, there are likely to be plenty more happy owners over the next 100.