Foreigners in Korea

Perovic Achieves A Double-Ton

Djordje Perovic has become just the second overseas rider to reach 200 winners in Korea. The Serbian jockey passed the milestone at Seoul Racecourse this past Sunday when he notched the second of three winners across the weekend.

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200-up for Perovic (Pic: Ross Holburt)

That win, on hot favourite P.K. Time in race 1 and then a later one aboard 4/1 chance Yes You Can in race 8 took Perovic’s 2017 tally to 82, three shy of Premiership leader Kim Yong Geun.

Licensed in Italy but a native of Serbia, the “Best Sportsman of the City of Kragujevac” arrived in Seoul in May of 2015. It took 35 rides for him to partner his first winner, Gold Mountain on June 7th of that year, as Perovic struggled with the usual issue facing foreign jockeys at Seoul – getting competitive mounts. The floodgates soon opened though. He rode a double the following week and despite some minor setbacks, never hasn’t stopped riding winners since.

100 winners arrived in October of 2016 and 150 in March of this year. In both years, Perovic has had to take time out in Europe for licensing reasons making his achievements – and to be in with a realistic chance of being Champion jockey this season – all the more admirable. In June this year, he won his first Korean Group race, guiding Silver Wolf to victory in the Ttukseom Cup.

Djordje Perovic now has 201 winners in Korea, still some way shy of Ikuyasu Kurakane’s final tally of 285. If he stays on though, few doubt that figure will be overcome.

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JP Guillambert Begins Busan Sojourn With Winner

It’s not easy being a foreign jockey in Korea, not even at the traditionally more open Busan. Early runs on the board are essential and that’s exactly what JP Guillambert managed to achieve on his first weekend in the saddle on the South Coast.

The 34-year-old had five rides across the two days for five different trainers and Guillambert finished inside at least the minor money on four of them. The highlight though was his first victory which arrived on Sunday afternoon on the modestly-named Global Champion in race 2.

The three-year-old Cape Blanco colt had looked every inch the no-hoper in his early starts and even though he had been showing signs of figuring things out in his latest two, Global Champion was nevertheless sent off at odds in excess of 50/1.

Guillambert’s fellow British jockey Darryll Holland will probably want to forget the race as he looked set to make all on co-favourite Vega Khan. That was until the very final strides when Guillambert brought Global Champion unnoticed up the rail to steal victory by half a length on the line.

Victory may have been a tad fortunate but for Guillambert, who like Holland will have to overcome a riding weight of 54kg which will limit his opportunities, it’s a great start.

Guillambert is riding at Busan on an initial four-month license.

Brian Bows Out Of Seoul

Brian Dean has left Korea. The Australian trainer completed his time at Seoul Racecourse at the end of June.

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Brian Dean has left Seoul (Pic: KRA)

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 (more…)

Da Silva Makes The Breakthrough

Antonio Da Silva has broken his maiden in Korea. The Brazilian jockey opened his account with  last to first effort on 7/1 chance Gutongsa in race 6 at Seoul Racecourse on Saturday afternoon.

Gutongsa (Spring At Last) was Da Silva’s (called Antonio Davielson in the race card) 12th mount since debuting full-time last weekend. He rides Hidden Indian in the Group 2 Ttukseom Cup on Sunday.

The win was also a first for new trainer Jun Seung Kyu on what was just his second every starter.

* Da Silva’s win comes a day after Korean Champion jockey Moon Se Young rode his first winner in Singapore. Moon guided the Alwin Tan trained Thunder Cat to a last gasp victory in the closing race 9 at Kranji on Friday night. Full result and race video here.

Turkey Cup, SLTC, CHIA Trophies Headline Day 1 Of Seoul International Weekend

It’s 60 years since South Korea and Turkey established diplomatic relations and to mark that, the Turkey Cup is one of three big races Day 1 on Saturday of the first of two International weekends at Seoul Racecourse this year (11 races from 10:45 to 18:00). 

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Flags fly at a previous Turkey Cup day

In additional to the Turkey Cup, there are also the annual exchange races with the Selangor Turf Club and China Horse Industry Association. English racecards are here. Here are notes on the four key races:

Race 7: Class 4 (1200M) “Cargill Agri Purina” / Handicap / KRW 60 Million / 15:35

1. CHARISMA QUEEN – Started to get the hang of this level in her latest two. Led last time but did fade to 5th.

2. TOUR ROSE – Since a 7th place on debut, she’s never been any worse than 2nd. Comprehensive class and distance winner last start, she’s very much the one to beat here.

3. SAEJAE SARANG – Surprise class and distance winner in February, he’s not shown many signs of following up in three efforts since.

4. DRAGON VILLAGE – Generally beats a few but generally finishes behind a few more. Outsider.

5. MAMBO CHEONHA – Comes in off three consecutive 6th place finishes and hasn’t achieved any better than that in six attempts at this class.

6. NEONEUN ACE – The main danger to the favourite, he enters off back to back 2nd place finishes. Runs best when on the early speed and another 2nd is more than possible.

7. JAMNYONG – Slightly disappointing 4th when well backed on May 7th. Generally runs on though and is in the placing frame here. (more…)

Seoul Saturday: Antonio da Silva Debuts – Race-By-Race Preview (May 27)

There’s a new foreign jockey in town and he’ll be in action on Saturday at Seoul where there are 11 races from 10:45 to 18:00. English race cards here.

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Antonio Da Silva on a previous visit to Seoul

29-year-old Antonio Davielson Correira da Silva is from Brazil. He rode in his home country for 11 years, mainly in Sao Paulo and notched up over 700 winners including several Brazilian Group races.

He moved to Singapore in the summer of 2015 and enjoyed a successful stint at Kranji, even coming to Korea last year to partner Super Winner in the Korea Sprint.

Da Silva, who will be called “Antonio Davielson” in the Korean race cards, has a busy opening weekend in Seoul with six rides booked on Saturday and three on Sunday.

Notes on races to be simulcast overseas belows:

Race 5: Class 5 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million 

1. LITTLE ANGELS – Yet to win in 22 but was 3rd at odds of 140/1 last start. More respect today but still an outsider.

2. LEAD UP – An all the way winner at the distance in April and then 3rd on first try at this class three weeks ago. With a quick start, she has a good chance here.

3. SUAN STAR – Last in slow effort on only start of 2017 so far at the end of April. Not devoid of talent but hard to back here.

4. SHINE QUEEN – Has been getting progressively further away in six outings at this class but may appreciate the drop back to the minimum distance today.

5. GANGCHONUI ACHIM – Hasn’t won in 5 attempts but has been close. 2nd on both tries at this distance. (more…)

Bart Rice Tops 100 Winners At Busan

Bart Rice has reached a well-deserved landmark. The South African trainer saddled his 100th Korean winner at Busan Racecourse last Friday.

Rice had been on 99 winners since mid-April having had some near-misses but it only took until the first race on Friday to put that right as filly Jeonsaui Huye (Peace Rules) justified her odds-on tag to land her maiden victory under Chae Sang Hyun. Win number 101 wasn’t far off too as the same jockey guided Que Sera Sera (Concept Win) home in front in race 6.

The third foreign trainer to be licensed in Korea following Peter Wolsley and Joe Murphy, Rice arrived at the end of autumn 2013 and spent time building up his stable before sending out his first runners in late January 2014. He won with his first starter:

That established an impressive strike rate that has continued right up to the present day. Jeonsaui Huye was Rice’s 632nd Korean starter making for a win rate that stands now at 15.8% overall and 18.8% for the past year. No fewer than 40% of his runners in the past year (and 37.4% overall) have placed in the first three. He was 5th in the Trainer’s Championship in 2016 and currently lies in 7th place this term.

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Bart Rice and assistant trainer Pam Rice along with Joe and Young Sook Dallao at Busan Racecourse 

Rice has also been involved with what is a new concept in Korea – foreign ownership – saddling winners for both Joe Dallao and Barry Irwin. The Team Valor green and red aren’t the only famous colours his string sport, however, as top Korean owner Choi Byung Bu (of Triple Nine fame) has also sent a horse Rice’s way; Triple Five, who the trainer took to Kranji in Singapore to run in the KRA Trophy last year.

Bart Rice, who will turn 41 later this year, now has 33 horses under his care at Busan. He may be yet to win a Stakes race but that is surely only a matter of time and along with fellow expat trainers Peter Wolsley and Thomas Gillespie (and recently joined by David Miller), Rice is contributing to significantly raising the standard of competition at Busan. That’s true for jockeys too as apprentice Choi Eun Gyeung, the first Korean female rider to be assigned at Busan for many years, has landed on her feet in being attached to Rice’s stable.

So it’s 101 up for Bart Rice. He has a horse in his stable called “For Bart“. While that particular one may not have done a lot in his only start to date, there are likely to be plenty more happy owners over the next 100.