A familiar face will be in action on Saturday as jockey Masakazu Tanaka returns to Korea to take up an initial four-month engagement at Seoul Racecourse. There are 11 races from 14:00 to 21:00.
Now 34, Tanaka, who has spent the majority of his career riding in New Zealand, joined Busan Racecourse in June of 2013 and returned solid results, riding 24 winners in his first seven months up to the end of that year.
2014 was challenging for the Japanese rider, but Tanaka still emerged with 29 winners from 330 rides. It would be in 2015, however, when his persistence paid off and he became acknowledged as one of the top jockeys in the country. He rode 49 winners that season, taking him to 5th place in the jockey championship.
Although he couldn’t secure a Stakes race victory, he landed a 3rd place on New York Blue in the Asia Challenge Cup in 2014 and the following year another 3rd, on Ildeung Hanghaesa in the President’s Cup, at that time Korea’s joint-richest race. He left Busan having ridden 101 winners from 907 rides and returned to New Zealand where he has been riding since.
Tanaka, who this time will be based in Seoul, has four rides in the capital on Saturday but the odds are against him making an immediate winning return although some of the other foreign jockeys at the track should be in the winner’s circle at some stage with Johan Victoire, Manoel Nunes and Antonio Da Silva all on plenty of live mounts.
The day’s feature is a class 2 handicap over 1800M (race 10). Samjung Tapit, Thunder Light and Tosconova Cat, who came home 2nd, 4th and 6th respectively in last month’s TJK Trophy will be among the favourites in an ultra-competitive eleven-runner race.
Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million
Just seven runners to kick us off with and it’s as weak a maiden as you’ll find. (2) HANIL GANGJA ran reasonably well in three outings around the turn of the year before being taken lame. He returned to training a couple of months ago trialling up in early June in good order and he should have far too much here. He will try to lead from gate to wire although he will be challenged for the early lead by (4) GOODCHOICE, who has show a couple of glimpses across eight outings so far and should be aiming for a career-best finish here. (6) SAND CHAMP has only raced twice so far, and the jockey booking makes one take note here. (5) JEONGMUN Y and (7) SUNSHIN MARINE the others with scope for improvement.
|Selections||(2) Hanil Gangja (4) Goodchoice (6) Sand Champ (7) Sunshin Marine|
|Next Best||5, 3, 1|
|Fast Start||2, 4|
Race 2: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million
The second maiden of the day is only marginally stronger than the first. (2) DAESEUNG AGAIN is the clear standout having run 4th and 3rd in his first two starts. He came close to making all last time, just being headed in the closing stages and this time can go all the way. (1) DALLYEORA RAON steps back to the minimum trip following a decent 3rd place 1300M last time. He’s also returning from seventeen weeks out and can go well first-up here. (4) GWANGPOK JUHAENG and (5) SO ARA DAEWANG have both demonstrated progress over their limited starts so far and while for both, this is slightly harder than their latest assignments, both can be competitive.
|Selections||(2) Daeseung Again (1) Dallyeora Raon (4) Gwangpok Juhaeng (5) So Ara Daewang|
|Next Best||3, 6|
|Fast Start||2, 8|
Race 3: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million
Japanese jockey Masa Tanaka, who rode 100 winners at Busan in a previous Korean stint, makes his debut as full-time Seoul jockey here but the Japanese rider may have to wait a little longer for his first winner as his mount in this juvenile maiden, (1) CHEONJI GISANG, won’t be among the favourites. That’s not to say the colt did badly in his trial though, but it’s a competitive affair. Three have raced before and of them, (6) CHANGPA was a solid 4th on June 16th, running on nicely and if she has come of for the run, she’ll be the one to beat. Among the first-timers, (7) GUREUM WANGJA and (9) UP LIGHT looked most impressive in trials. The pair of them will likely join Changpa on the early speed and all three should still be involved at the business end. (4) JACOB and (8) RAYMOND are others to keep an eye on and as ever in races like this, watch the market for clues.
|Selections||(6) Changpa (7) Gureum Wangja (8) Raymond (9) Up Light|
|Next Best||4, 1, 11|
|Fast Start||6, 7, 9|
Race 4: Class 5 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
(1) BODEURAM and (3) WAIT AND SEE are both up in class after maiden wins at the distance last time. Both are from in-form stables and both look to have more to offer at this level with the filly Bodeuram slightly favoured to make the step up faster. Main danger to both is (4) ARGO GALLOPER. He remains a maiden but now has three 3rd place finishes and a 2nd place at this distance. The 2nd came last time out when he was well-beaten by a good winner having led early on but still finished comfortably ahead of the rest and should be a factor here. The experienced (8) PERFECT BIC C was 4th behind Argo Galloper that day but can run closer here. (7) JUNGJEON MAMA returned to racing (more…)