Brian Dean has left Korea. The Australian trainer completed his time at Seoul Racecourse at the end of June.
At the beginning of 2016, Dean was handed the questionable privilege of becoming the first foreign trainer to be licensed in Seoul.
Plenty had already been based at Busan, the newer of the two thoroughbred tracks in Korea since Peter Wolsley arrived 10 years ago, but while the capital track had been hosting international jockeys for almost a decade, no trainers had yet been licensed at the country’s principle venue.
After being officially licensed in March, Dean set about his business building up his stable and sent his first runners out to trial in April of last year. All three of his trial entrants that day won their respective heats. Putting horses in official barrier trials – something most trainers only do if they are required to have a horse re-qualify for racing – for the purpose of tuning up for races would be something Dean would do frequently during his tenure with good results. After landing a couple of 3rd place finishes on his first weekend, his first race winner followed a couple of weeks later when My Blade came home in front by a head on Derby day under fellow Aussie Dean Holland.
During his 15 months in Seoul, Brian Dean sent out 150 starters. He recorded 28 winners, a strike rate of 18.7% with 39% of his runners finishing in the top three. His stable star was Choegangja (Silver Train), a 4-year-old who came to Dean having won one of six career starts. He won his next five with varying degrees of ease until coming unstuck by missing the break in the SBS Sports Sprint in June. Now with brand new Korean trainer Jeon Seung Gyu, Choegangja is likely to head to Dean’s old stomping ground of Kranji in Singapore to represent Korea in the KRA Trophy later this month.
While achieving success on the track, Dean encountered the expected frustrations on the backstretch, especially in regards to HR and the ability – or otherwise – of trainers to manage their appointments. Nevertheless, he was was popular with other trainers and the jockeys, as well as being good with a one-liner for the local broadcasters. He built up a loyal band of owners, some of whom have indicated they would like to support him elsewhere as well, should he train on. His final runner in Korea, filly Rocket Queen, was a winner.
In many ways, Dean was the ideal first foreign trainer for Seoul. Not afraid to be straightforward with his opinions in the right forums but always extremely professional in public and with the media, he also backed it up by getting results on the track. It leaves the next foreign trainer in Seoul in a much better position than Dean himself was when he started.
Dean’s next move is unconfirmed with a return to either Singapore or Australia a possibility. A new foreign trainer at Seoul is expected to be announced in the next couple of months. Currently, up to four foreign trainers may be licensed at Busan and 2 at Seoul.