Franco Da Silva moved to within two wins of the three-hundred mark in Korea, riding four winners across the weekend; trainer Peter Wolsley sent out a treble on Friday, but a series of bad luck saw Johan Victoire stall for at least one more week in his bid to reach two-hundred Korean winners.
The only foreign jockey currently riding at Busan since the departures of Djordje Perovic and Ioannis Poullis, Franco Da Silva has been in imperious form of late on the south coast. Having taken out the final race of the day on Million Bank on Friday, Da Silva kicked off Sunday with a gate-to-wire score on I Will The Star before adding two more, both for trainer Bart Rice, on Spice Ecton in Race 3 and Jessieui Kkum in the concluding Race 6.
Jessieui Kkum (by Jess’s Dream) is a four-year-old American-bred gelding, who is quietly putting together an impressive body of work. On Sunday, he settled back in the pack before steadily improving and then running on strong to score by half a length over 1800M at class 2 level. Under the eye of the progressive Rice stable, he looks to have a bright future.
Aussie trainer Peter Wolsley was in red-hot form on Friday, sending out three winners. The first was something of a surprise as 80/1 filly Happy Jazz led all the way in Race 2 before the better fancied Patriot took out Race 3 and Dream Of Queen Race 5. Bart Rice and Peter Wolsley are now neck and neck in 5th and 6th in the Busan Trainer Premiership.
At Seoul, David Breux rode a winner on both Saturday and Sunday while Antonio Da Silva was on target for one on Saturday and Alan Munro for one on Sunday. It was a slightly frustrating weekend for Breux’s fellow French rider Johan Victoire though.
Victoire is just two shy of reaching the two-hundred winner milestone since starting in Korea in md-2017. He had four good chances on Sunday but endured a string of bad luck. Premiership leading trainer Luigi Riccardi’s well fancied pair of Giant Indy in Race 6 and Trotting Riley in race 9 both missed the break, while arguably Victoire’s best chance of the day, Tiz Barows, was scratched from race 10. It’s hard to keep Victoire down though, and he will surely hit the two hundred sooner rather than later.
In the feature race of the weekend, the concluding Race 11 at Seoul on Sunday, apprentice jockey Kim Tae-hui added to her burgeoning reputation, producing the veteran Winner Gold at the perfect time to swoop home. Favourite Soul Merit struck the front in the final half furlong, but Kim brought the seven-year-old Wildcat Heir entire past to score on the line. It was the apprentice’s twenty-sixth career winner, and the twenty-one-year-old looks set to ride out her claim in double-quick time.
One milestone was reached this weekend and it was by local trainer Kwak Yong-hyo. The veteran handler sent out his five-hundredth career winner when Take Music dominated Race 1 at Seoul on Sunday. While twenty-five years may be a long time, Kwak has sent out only just over 4,800 runners in that time so has returned a win-rate in excess of 10%. His best horses have been Bicheonbong, who won the President’s Cup (KOR-G1) in 2004, and Star Wood, who won back-to-back runnings of the Ttukseom Cup (KOR-G3) in 2005 and 2006, in the days before that race became restricted to fillies and mares.
Kwak may not be done quite yet as he has in his stable Hangang Ace, who earlier this month won the Listed Munhwa Ilbo Trophy for juveniles and will probably be headed to Busan in December for the Breeders’ Cup race to decide the season’s champion two-year-old.
Next weekend sees the likely return of Korea Sprint winner Eoma Eoma. With no season-ending Group races for the sprinters, he is set to travel south to Busan where he will be hot favourite to win the Listed Kookje Shinmun Trophy over 1400M next Sunday afternoon.