Foreigners in Korea

Mina & Mezzatesta Notch First Busan Winners

It was a good start to the weekend for both Marios Mina and Andrea Mezzatesta as the visiting jockeys both partnered their first Korean winners at Busan on Friday afternoon.

Cypriot rider Mina went first, guiding 13/1 shot Jilju Daejang to victory by a nose in race 3. His Italian counterpart, Mezzatesta would strike one race later as 6/1 chance Coming Again obliged in race 4.

Mina and Mezzatesta are among five overseas jockeys currently licensed in Busan. The ther others are Britain’s Darryll Holland, Japan’s Yonekura Satoshi and Italian Mirko Sanna.

Mirko Sanna Rides 1st Korean Winner

Mirko Sanna began his Korean stint at Busan on Friday and it didn’t take the Italian licensed jockey long to get off the mark as he guided 20/1 chance B.K. Park to victory at Busan on Sunday afternoon.

The 32-year-old Sanna, who had previously ridden in Europe, Malaysia and Canada, made the breakthrough on what was 12th Korean ride. He took B.K Park right back at the start of the 1300M Busan race 4 and closed well to beat odds on favourite Great King by just over a length on the line.

Seven-Timer Satoshi Shines & Holland Returns With A Double

The 2016 season wrapped-up at Busan on Saturday and it was a great end to the year for much of the foreign contingent at the south coast track. The returning Darryll Holland landed a double for Peter Wolsley and Bart Rice while Thomas Gillespie trained a double and Francisco Da Silva rode a winner. Star of the show though was Japanese rider Yonekura Satoshi who ended up in the winner’s circle on no fewer than 7 occasions on the 15 race card.

Holland, who resumed regular riding at Busan on Friday following a two and a half year absence, got off the mark on Sunday in race 4, guiding Peter Wolsley’s Secret Marine (Sea Of Secrets), a 5/1 chance, to a seven length win. Holland would go on to win the day’s feature race, a valuable test for three-year-olds, on Bart Rice’s Buhwarui Banseok (Tizway), who beat Korean Oaks winner Ottug Ottugi by two-lengths. The victory – and a later one for Wonil Gangja (Cowboy Cal) in race 15, the final race of the year – capped a superb year for the Rice stable which has seen him finish in 5th place in the Trainer Premiership. Only Kim Young Kwan and Peter Wolsley had a better strike-rate and a top-three finish is surely on the agenda in 2017 for the South African handler.

Da Silva’s win was on the promising Shunsuke Yoshida owned colt Wonder Wall (Chapel Royal) in race 8 while the Gillespie-trained winner of race 7, Party Again (Singing Saint), was one of four victories on the day that took jockey Seo Seung Un to joint-1st in the Jockey Premiership on 104 wins for the year, level with You Hyun Myung. The weighing room is about to become a lot more competitive with Seoul jockeys Ham Wan Sik, Jo In Kwen and former Busan champion jockey, Jo Sung Gon, all set to ride full time at the track from January with only Kim Yong Geun headed in the opposite direction to the capital.

No-one finished the year in better form though than Yonekura Satoshi, who put on a sparkling display on Saturday. The highlight of his seven wins in the valuable 2-year-old race when he guided US import Drop The Beat (Mad Flatter) to a comfortable win over five rivals. He also teamed up with Thomas Gillespie to get 7/1 chance Great Song (Songangaprayer) home in race 14.

His closing day heroics meant Satoshi ended the year on 39 winners for 5th place in the standings. With a top line-up of overseas jockeys and now, possibly for the first time at Busan, some real depth in the domestic jockey ranks too, the first few months of 2017 are set to be an exciting time.

Havlik Off The Mark On Christmas Day

It hasn’t taken Jan Havlik long to get off the mark in Korea. The Slovakian jockey debuted at Seoul Racecourse on Saturday and within 24 hours he had ridden his first winner, striking on board 10/1 chance Yeongung Geonmu (Exploit) in race 4 on Christmas Day.

That success enabled the 42-year-old Havlik to pick up a number of spare rides later in the day and he came very close to scoring again on another long shot, 22/1 Strong Road in the day’s final race, only to be denied by Mighty Gem, 3rd in last month’s Busan Governor’s Cup, right at the end. Saturday had been up and down for the newcomer as while he gt some good runs out of horses with low expectations, he had to miss his final mount of the day after suffering a injured toe. He was fit again in time for Sunday though.

Havlik and Djordje Perovic had previously been rivals for several years in Europe and with the early breakthrough will do no harm at all for the “Slovak Moore” as he seeks to emulate the “Serbian Frankie” at Seoul.

*In the weekend’s valuable 2-year-old races, Meni Bracing (Menifee) took Saturday’s contest for Korean-bred juveniles while US bred Dolkung (Afleet Alex) took the one for the imports on Sunday.

Miller’s Time: Kiwi Trainer Breaks Through At Busan

Dynamic Star was a winner on debut at Busan on Friday and the 2-year-old Hansen colt landed not only his own maiden win but also a Korean maiden win for New Zealand trainer David Miller.

Miller, who previously trained in Malaysia, has been steadily establishing his stable since arriving in Korea in early autumn and has now assembled a string of 21 horses.

Dynamic Star, a 5/1 shot having put in a reasonably impressive performance in a trial last month, was Miller’s 14th runner and under jockey Chae Sang Hyun, he pulled clear in the closing stages to win by a comfortable three-lengths on the line. Hopefully it will be the first of many.

miller

David Miller

Miller brings the total number of overseas trainers at Busan to four. Finishing 2nd to Dynamic Star on Friday was Agnes, trained by Thomas Gillespie.

The Irish trainer is almost 18 months into his time at Busan and is quietly moving into the upper echelons of the Busan ranks. He currently lies 10th in the 2016 standings and is sure to rise. Gillespie was 2nd only to Kim Young Kwan in prize-money won in November courtesy of Ms. Margaux giving him his first group winner in the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup.

Already firmly established in the top tier of trainers at Busan is Bart Rice. Although the South African’s stable has had a quiet couple of months, he remains in 5th place in the Championship and maintains a very impressive strike-rate. Also in the top tier of course, is Peter Wolsley. The Australian saddled his 400th Korean winner last week and will finish in 2nd place in the Championship.

Three overseas trainers in the top ten can only be good for the overall standard at Busan. Can David Miller make it four in 2017?

 

Holland To Return / Havlik, Sanna Licensed / Belli Extended / Park Geum Man Retires

There’s news on the overseas jockey front with three new additions to the licensed ranks from the start of this month.

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Darryll Holland was most recently in Korea to ride in the Keeneland Korea Cup in September (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Darryll Holland, who enjoyed a successful spell at Busan a couple of years ago, returns to the south coast on a four-month initial license. He’ll be joined by Italian Mirko Sanna. Meanwhile at Seoul, Jan Havlik is set to join. The Slovakian is set to renew his rivalry with Djordje Perovic with whom he has reportedly regularly competed with across Europe. Meanwhile, Marcello Belli has come to the end of his initial four months and has been renewed for a further six:

Name/Nationality Racecourse Type License Period
Jan Havlik (Slovakia) Seoul New
(4 months)
2016/12/01
– 2017/03/31
Mirko Sanna (Italy) Busan New
(4 months)
2016/12/01
– 2017/03/31
Darryll Holland (UK) Busan New
(4 months)
2016/12/01
– 2017/03/31
Marcello Belli (Italy) Seoul Extension
(6 months)
2016/12/01
– 2017/05/31

Jan Havlik (42) turned professional in 1994 and in addition to his native Slovakia, has ridden in many countries across Europe for in excess of 300 career winners. He will be based at Seoul Racecourse.

Mirko Sanna (32) is from Italy. He began race riding in 2000 and has been primarily based in Italy but has also ridden in Malaysia, Australia, Germany, France and most recently in Canada. He will ride at Busan Racecourse.

Darryll Holland (44) is a former Champion Apprentice in the United Kingdom. He returns to Busan Racecourse where he rode 66 winners from 350 mounts between February 2013 and June 2014.

Marcello Belli (44) has been licensed at Seoul Racecourse since August 2016. The Italian jockey has ridden 4 winners from 88 mounts and his license has been extended for a further 6 months.

In other jockey news, 2010 Korean Derby winning jockey Park Geum Man has opted to turn in his license. The 37-year-old debuted when Busan Racecourse opened in 2005 and rode 270 winners from just under 3000 career rides. His license expired at the end of November and he didn’t request a renewal.

Cheonnyeon Daero

Cheonnyeon Daero and Park Geum Man win the 2010 Derby (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Park had a relatively slow start to his career but under the guidance of trainer Peter Wolsley developed into, for a time, one of the top riders at Busan. His biggest win came on Cheonnyeon Daero in the 2010 Derby and he would go on to win the Busan Owners’ Cup on the same horse later that year. His other two group race wins both came in 2012 on Gyeongbudaero in the 2012 KRA Cup Mile and on Yapung in the Breeders’ Cup.

Satoshi On Fire At Busan While It’s Bravo Belli at Seoul

Yonekura Satoshi continued his solid September with no less five winners at Busan last weekend. Meanwhile up at Seoul, Sunday was a milestone day for Marcello Belli as the Italian claimed his first Korean winner.

Since winning the KNN Cup on outsider Supreme Magic in July, Satoshi has finally found himself getting plenty of opportunities and the 41-year-old Japanese rider is converting them.

Taking advantage of a number of Busan’s top riders being in Seoul for the Jeju Governor’s Cup, Satoshi won the first race last Friday on Queen’s Queen and added two more later on in the evening before coming back out on Sunday and adding two more. None of the five across the weekend started at shorter than 5/1.

It’s still early days for Marcello Belli but the Italian rider got a big boost on Sunday as he partnered his first winner in Seoul. On a day of long-shot winners, Belli made all on 43/1 chance Northern Hojae in race 8 and just had enough left to hold off the  favourite by a nose on the line

It was Belli’s first win on what was his 21st ride at Seoul. He still has some considerable way to go to match fellow Italian-licensed Seoul rider Djordje Perovic but he’s now on his way.

Seoul’s other foreign jockey Imran Chisty also rode a winner on Saturday although Paolo Aragoni and Pasquale Borelli who were also in the capital for the weekend both saw their mounts come up short in the Jeju Governor’s Cup.

Busan’s fourth foreign jockey, Francisco Da Silva got his own Korean career off to a remarkable start. Debuting on September 9th, he won on his first two rides and added a third later that same day. The 37-year-old is yet to add to that tally but has had a few near misses and was suspended last weekend.