Four of the longest-serving trainers at Seoul Racecourse officially gave up their barns last week. Ha Jae Heung, Kim Yang San, Yang Jae Cheol and Jung Ji Eun all reached the mandatory retirement age of 63 in the year leading up to June 30th.
All four trainers began their careers at the Ttukseom Racecourse in Seoul, Jung receiving his license in 1982 and Ha, Kim and Yang in 1983. At the time there was no private ownership of racehorses with all horses being owned by the racing authority so it wasn’t until the 1990s, following the relocation of the racecourse to its current site in Gwacheon that the modern racing calender, complete with Stakes races and big purses began to take shape.
Jung Ji Eun – 8496 starters / 748 winners / 856 2nds / 786 3rds: A filly called Dangdae Jeil (Lucky Ruler) was his best horse of the 1990s, winning 25 of 60 starts between 1995 and 2001 including the Ttukseom Cup in 1997. Fillies would continue to be his specialty as he won the Korean Oaks and then a second Ttukseom Cup in 2001 with Espass (Psychobabble). His final Stakes win came in 2009 with the filly Top Point (Tom Point) in the KRA Cup Classic.
Ha Jae Heung – 10535/937/1011/1042: Ha trained the winners of a number of listed races but only got the one Graded Stakes victory. It came with his best horse, Saebyeok Dongja (Fiercely), Korean Derby winner in 2005 and who would go on to 10 of his 37 outings. By far the most active of the four at the time of their retirement, he had sent out 20 winners from just over 300 starters in his final year.
Kim Yang Sun – 9088/907/912/908: Kim made his Classic breakthrough with Seonbong Taegam (Road Of War) in the Korean Oaks in 2000 and was champion trainer in 2001, a feat he would repeat in 2009. He will be most remembered though for handling one of the genuine stars of Korean Racing, Dongbanui Gangja (Broken Vow), who he prepared for back-to-back victories in the Grand Prix Stakes in 2008 and 2009.
Yang Jae Cheol – 6877/550/597/598: While Yang wasn’t able to win a Graded Stakes race, he did win the Sports Chosun Cup on two occasions, first with Dol Kyuk (Port Erin) back at Ttukseom in 1991 and then again at Gwacheon in 2002 with Cheonji Kiun (Glorify).
* Also leaving the training ranks last week was Heo Jae Young. The former jockey took out a license in 2012 but the forty-year-old has now decided to pursue a different path in the industry. He trained 53 winners from 1087 starters.