At 11am on Saturday morning, after Moon Se Young had nonchalantly guided favourite Black Party to a comfortable victory in the opening race of the weekend at Seoul Racecourse to rack up his 1499th career winner, it looked as though Moon’s quest to reach the milestone 1500th would be a breeze. By 6pm on Sunday, it had turned into something of a saga before finally, Another Smart One obliged in the concluding race of the weekend and Moon became only the second Korean jockey to ever reach the landmark figure.
The wait was somewhat reminiscent of that of Park Tae Jong, the nation’s all-time leading jockey, who was on 1,999 winners for three meetings before finally breaking the 2,000- win barrier in May 2016. “Sorry you guys had to wait here after every race!” smiled Moon to the waiting camera crew. Indeed, on Saturday Moon found himself beaten on three hot favourites on what ultimately proved a day of frustration for the six-time Champion Jockey.
“I was a little worried today” admitted Moon afterwards, “I didn’t expect too much from my rides, but I knew this one was going to be favourite and I was concerned about letting down the racing fans”. He needn’t have been. Another Smart One, a five-year-old US import by Smarty Jones looked a winner all the way, stalking the early leaders in the 1200M Class 1 finale before taking things up mid-stretch to win by a full six-lengths on the line.
“I always want to do my best for the owners and trainers who support me and all through my career, I’ve set myself targets and goals and achieving them has been what motivates me”. However, now 38-years-old Moon, who missed the latter half of last year after shattering his collarbone, knows not to take anything for granted anymore. “I have had so many injuries and layoffs over the past few years that I wasn’t sure I would make this one”.
Park Tae Jong, who rode one of the winners that denied Moon on Saturday, was among the first to greet his rival in the winner’s circle after the race. “I’ve been chasing him my entire career” said Moon after bowing deeply to the man who his is fifteen years his senior. “I’ll keep on chasing him”.
* At Busan on Sunday, New Legend, the current hottest prospect in Korean racing, continued to burnish his credentials. Stepping up to 2000M for the first time, the four-year-old Menifee colt, who began his career in the United States, outclassed is class 2 rivals, setting a gentle pace before pulling away with ease in the home straight to win by a full thirteen-lengths. He moves on to five from five at home and will be up to class 1 for his next appearance.