Jockey Profiles

Korean Champion Jockey Moon Se Young Granted Singapore License

The Singapore Turf Club has announced that eight-time Korean Champion jockey Moon Se Young has been granted a three-month visiting jockey’s license to ride at Kranji.

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Kranji-bound: Moon Se Young (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Now 36, Moon debuted in 2001 and upon returning from national service, won his first Championship in 2008. Injury prevented him from repeating the feat in 2009 but in each subsequent year he has ended the season as Seoul’s Champion jockey, partnering more than 100 winners every time.

Moon rode his first Listed race winner in 2003 and his first Korean Group winner in 2004. He won Korea’s most prestigious race, the Grand Prix Stakes on Bally Brae in 2007 and the Korean Derby on Jigeum I Sungan in 2012. In total he has ridden more than 1300 winners and is only the second Korean jockey to surpass more than 1000.

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Moon Se Young being greeted by the female members of the weighing room after his 1000th winner career winner

A brief suspension and a trip to Macau (where he rode for a short time in 2012/2013) for a Jockey Challenge meant Moon had made an uncharacteristically slow start to 2017, however, he roared back into form this past weekend winning the last four races on Sunday’s card at Seoul including his 3rd Donga Ilbo Cup win. That came on Meni Money, whose dam Pocketful Of Money, Moon partnered to win the KRA Cup Classic in 2007.

While the presence of Djordje Perovic in the Seoul weighing room had at last presented him with some domestic competition, Moon has long harbored ambitions to test himself in superior riding company. Additionally, with Busan-trained horses dominating the major races in Korea in recent years (internal Jockey Union rules prevent Seoul jockeys riding Busan horses and vice-versa), Moon’s opportunities in the very biggest races have been limited, leading him to look elsewhere for a new challenge.

Moon Se Young will relocate to Kranji for an initial 3-month period as soon as his work permit is issued.

 

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.

Jockey Woes: Lee Chan Ho Struck-Off / Pasquale Borelli Suspended For 12 Months

Lee Chan Ho, one of the most promising young jockeys at Seoul and who guided Choegang Schiller to victory in the 2015 Asia Challenge Cup, has had his license to ride in races cancelled. The sanction, announced last Friday, is due to off-track incidents and is not related to racing or integrity.

Born in 1992, Lee Chan Ho debuted as a 21-year-old in June 2013 and quickly made an impression, riding out his apprentice claim in double-quick time. He partnered Wonder Bolt to 2nd place behind El Padrino in the inaugural Asia Challenge Cup in 2014 and returned to win the race one year later on Choegang Schiller.

That would be his only Group race winner although he also had Listed success in the Herald Business and Nonghyup Chairman’s Cup races in 2015 as well as this year’s Seoul trial for the Jeju Governor’s Cup. In total, he rode 179 winners from 1343 rides.

Like a number of jurisdictions in Asia, Korea has strict policies relating to conduct away from the racecourse as well as on it and unfortunately, it seems Lee Chan Ho fell foul of these one time too many.

Meanwhile Pasquale Borelli’s time at Busan is at an end. The Italian jockey had been under investigation for his ride on Yeonggwanguihunter at Busan on October 28th. The 2-year-old colt was sent off as odds-on favourite but finished a tailed-off last with Borelli adjudged by stewards to have restrained the horse. Borelli maintained that he believed the horse to be feeling an injury but a post-race veterinary exam showed no sign of lameness.

Ultimately, Borelli was handed a 12-month suspension which almost certainly means he has ridden his last race in Korea.  Borelli debuted at Busan in October 2015 and in his year riding at the South Coast track, recorded 38 winners from 319 mounts.

Here’s the race in question, the horse is number 9:

Djordje Perovic Reaches 100 Korean Winners

Djordje Perovic on Sunday became the just the fifth foreign rider – and the first who’s not from Japan – to ride 100 winners in Korea.

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Ton-Up: Djordje Perovic (Pic: Ross Holburt)

The Serbian jockey completed the feat on 14/1 chance Dream Sun in race 4 at Seoul on Sunday lunchtime and promptly followed up with another to take him to 101. That figure draws him level with Masa Tanaka as joint-fourth on the all-time foreign rider list.

Perovic’s achievement is arguably the greater as all of the other jockeys in the top ten, with the exception of Ikuyasu Kurakane, rode the vast majority of their winners at Busan which is well known to be more welcoming and accepting of overseas riders than Seoul.

Perovic has had to do it the hard way but he is now firmly established in the elite group of riders at Seoul. Despite missing three months of this year due to the need to fulfil license requirements elsewhere, he lies in 2nd place in the 2016 Jockey Championship behind champion Moon Se Young, four places ahead of 3rd ranked Jo Sung Gon.

Punters and others have often noted about Perovic that from the moment he gets on a horse in the parade ring until he dismounts after the race he is constantly stroking and soothing his horse. Very few jockeys do this in Korea. His style may look ungainly at times but it is extremely effective.

Next month Perovic has another opportunity when he is scheduled to partner a Korea-trained horse in the annual Goodwill Cup at Ohi in Tokyo. Well mannered, hard working and talented, Djordje Perovic has demonstrated that it is possible for a foreign rider to succeed at Seoul. May there be many more winners for the “Serbian Frankie”.

Marcello Belli To Debut At Seoul As Perovic Returns

A new foreign jockey debuts at Seoul this Saturday afternoon. 44-year-old Italian Marcello Belli, a one-time champion jockey in Italy will take his first Korean mount in race 9. Also on Saturday at Seoul, Djordje Perovic makes his long-awaited return.

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Marcello Belli (Pic: supplied by jockey)

Marcello Belli debuted in 1988 and has ridden approximately 1650 winners in Italy including success in Italian Group and listed races. Over the past three years he has maintained a win rate of 9.3% and a place rate of 21.6%. He is riding at Seoul on an initial three-month license until the end of November.

Although Belli has just the three mounts across the weekend, he has at least one live chance in the shape of Geumbit Ullim in Sunday’s race 4.

Fellow Italian-licensed jockey, Serbia’s Djordje Perovic, has been absent the past couple of months having had to fulfill license requirements elsewhere. Hhowever, the “Balkan Wolf” remains in 3rd place in the Seoul Jockey Championship and will be looking to pick up from where he left off with 14 rides across the weekend.

Belli and Perovic join Imran Chisty as the foreign contingent at Seoul.

Belli’s countrymen Pasquale Borelli and Paolo Aragoni are riding at Busan. Borelli rode a winner on Friday as did the third overseas member of the Busan jockey colony, Japan’s Yonekura Saoshi. Satoshi partnered Ms. Margaux to victory in the class 1 feature race for trainer Thomas Gillespie. Bart Rice also trained a winner on the day. Another foreign jockey has also been licensed at Busan as from September.

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Yonekura Satoshi and Thomas Gillespie’s Ms. Margaux win at Busan (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Saturday sees racing at Seoul and Jeju starting from 2pm and running until 9pm. Daytime cards at Seoul and Busan on Sunday.

Click here for English Racecards.

Shin Woo Chul Retires From Training / Several Jockeys Retire Or Relocate / New Apprentices Set To Begin At Seoul & Busan

A couple of weeks after Tough Win had his retirement ceremony it was the turn of his trainer for his biggest wins, Shin Woo Chul, to have a retirement ceremony of his own at Seoul Racecourse last week. The 63-year-old trainer has reached the mandatory retirement age for trainers and will not apply to renew his license. 

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Shin Woo Chul (Pic: Sports Chosun)

Shin has trained more winners than any other trainer in Korea – although that record will almost certainly be passed shortly by Kim Young Kwan at Busan – seeing his horses return victorious on 1149 occasions from a total of 8713 starters dating back to 1983.

Tough Win was his best horse although he also trained two-time SBS Cup winner High Point and 2003 Grand Prix Stakes winner Habidongju. Shin’s stable had been winding down recently with only 6 winners from 140 starters in his final 12 months.

Current leader of the Seoul Trainer’s Championship is Seo In Seok with 24 winners although only 8 winners separates him from 10th placed Bae Dae Sun in the ever noncompetitive capital. By contrast at cut-throat Busan, Kim Young Kwan leads with 66 with Peter Wolsley in 2nd on 36.

The end of June is the time when many licenses expire or come up from renewal and there are plenty of comings and goings this year.

Seoul jockeys Seo Do Soo, Kim Seok Bong, Kim Young Jin, Kho Sung Yi and Shin Dae Jun all surrendered their licenses at the end of June after careers of varying length and indifference. Some are likely to apply for training licenses. From Busan, Seo In Sub and Park Sung Kwang have also retired from the saddle.

For reasons recently reported,  a higher than usual number of riding vacancies have recently arisen in the pony racing on Jeju Island and along with a slew of new apprentices, Busan’s Jo Hee Won and Seoul’s Yoo Mi Ra have relocated to the island to become pony jockeys. For both it looks to be a good opportunity to revive careers that had been drifting somewhat.

Five riders have successfully graduated from the academy and have become apprentice thoroughbred jockeys. Two  will begin riding at Seoul shortly. They are 21-year-old Lee Dong Ha, who will be apprenticed to trainer Ha Jae Heung and 27-year-old Lee Cheol Kyung, who will be with Seo In Seok.

At Busan there are three new apprentices. 20-year-old Lee Hyo Sik will be with Kim Nam Joong. Jung Do Yoon, also 20, is apprenticed to An Woo Sung while the first Korean female jockey to be ride full-time at Busan since 2010 is 19-year-old Choi Eun Kyung. She gets a great opportunity to learn, having been placed with South African trainer Bart Rice.

Park Tae Jong: 2000 Not Out

It had been coming for a long time but when it finally did, at 11:43am last Saturday, something happened at Seoul Racecourse that rarely – if ever – occurs. There was applause. After winning race 3, Park Tae Jong turned his mount around and then trotted back past the winning line to the spontaneous acclaim of the grandstand.  

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Punters help Park Tae Jong celebrate 2000 career winners at Seoul Racecourse last Saturday

We’ll get the cynicism out of the way early. Park had just guided Gangho Cheonnyeon, a 1.3 favourite to victory meaning just about every punter present had won their quinella bet; had this happened in race 1 when he was riding a 40/1 chance, the assembled punters may not have been so generous with their praise. It was though, a very warm moment.

In that race; race 3 on Saturday morning, Park Tae Jong became the first Korean jockey to ride 2000 career winners. In worldwide terms that’s a figure that is creditable and noteworthy but not unusual. For a Korean jockey of Park’s generation, it is an achievement that is nothing short of astonishing.

While Korean racing in 2016 still has a long way to go to be internationally competitive, it is worlds away from what it was when Park gained his license aged 22 in April of 1987. Most jockeys in those days would expect to ride for about five years, maybe getting 50-100 winners along the way if they were lucky. In a less than optimal system, many would then become Trainers. Many of them still are.

Additionally, in those days, there was a strict cap on the number of races a jockey could ride in each week. This  was only lifted when some jockeys were permitted to become freelance instead of being retained by a trainer around ten years ago. Even so, there are still only a total of 22-23 races a week that a jockey can ride in and few jockeys ride the full amount.

Park has also managed to make it through 29 years without any integrity run-ins. Famous for going to bed at 9pm every night and eschewing the soju-sloshing ways of some of his former contemporaries, he is one of only four from that era still riding today. However, none of Shin Hyoung Chul, Kim Ok Sung and the still hanging in there, Kim Gui Bae, have come anywhere close to what Park has achieved. Of those SHin has ridden the most winners with 677.

The 2000th winner:

Park Tae Jong’s first Stakes win was on Beoun in the now defunct Mugunghwa Cup in 1992 having already passed 100 career winner the year before. His first Graded race winner, Kev, came in the Ttukseom Cup, also in 1992. Park’s first and so far only Grand Prix Stakes win was in 1995, when he guided Daekyeon to a gate-to-wire eight-length win.

During the 1990s Park would establish himself as the nation’s top jockey, passing 500 winners in 1998 and then in 2000, passing Kim Myung Kuk’s record of 722 winners. Since then he has led the all-time winner’s list without interruption. He’s won three Korean Derby’s, a couple of Owner’s and Minister’s Cups and also the KRA Cup Mile at Busan in 2010.

Park became the first jockey to pass the 1000 winner mark in 2004 – and celebrated by being driven down the home straight in a Porsche – something he would repeat on Saturday only twelve years ago the Porsche was red, this time it was yellow. In common with all Seoul jockeys, Busan’s emergence as the base for the best horses in Korea has limited Park’s opportunities to win the very biggest races as, such as the arrangements the jockeys’ unions have made between themselves, only Busan jockeys may ride Busan horses.

Regardless, on a day to day basis, he remains one of the best in Korea. Park continues to ride winners and currently lies in 4th place in the 2016 Seoul Championship behind only Moon Se Young, Djordje Perovic and Jo Sung Gon.

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Park Tae Jong (Pic: Ross Holburt)

When you tell people in Korea that you are interested in horse racing, reactions are mixed. Many will think you are a degenerate gambler beyond redemption. Perhaps they are right. But most when pushed will also have heard of Park Tae Jong. They probably won’t have heard of Moon Se Young. Not yet, anyway.

His achievements may only be domestic in a country that craves international recognition and where a substantial proportion of the population looks down on its own sports leagues and events, but Park Tae Jong still deserves acknowledgement as one of Korea’s finest sportsmen of the past three decades. For a moment last Saturday, that was celebrated.

Park Tae Jong – as of May 2016:

Rides: 13365
1st: 2001
2nd: 1830
3rd: 1531
4th: 1442
5th: 1264

Win Strike Rate: 15.0%
Quinella Strike Rate: 28.7%
Show Strike Rate: 40.1%