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Jo Sung Gon: 1982-2019

Jo Sung Gon, five-time Champion Jockey at Busan and one of the top Korean riders of his generation, has died. He was 37.

Dangdae Bulpae Jo SUng Gon

Jo Sung Gon and Dangdae Bulpae after another President’s Cup win

Jo was found in his car by staff at the Busan Racecourse in the early hours of Tuesday morning. His death is not being treated as suspicious.

Debuting in 2005 at around the same time Busan Racecourse opened, Jo Sung Gon quickly built up a reputation as a fine young rider and one of the new track’s potential stars. His first big race win came in the 2009 Korean Derby on the filly Sangseung Ilro and in the same year he won what would be the first of five South Coast Jockey Championships.

Jo Sung Gon

Jo Sung Gon 1982-2019

The second of those Championships followed a year later and it was that same year, 2010, when he first became acquainted with the horse he will likely be most remembered for, Dangdae Bulpae.

Having won the Minister’s Cup, the final leg of the Triple Crown in October 2010, a month later Dangdae Bulpae and Jo Sung Gon won the first of what would be three President’s Cups.

With Dangdae Bulpae, Jo also won the Ttukseom Cup and KNN Cup in 2011, the Busan Mayor’s Cup and Owners’ Cup in 2012 and the Busan Ilbo Cup in 2013. He would finish as Champion Jockey in each of those seasons.

As his career developed, Jo Sung Gon developed a strong partnership with trainer Peter Wolsley, the pair combining to win the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup with Secret Whisper in 2013 and then in 2015, in what for both would be a career-high, the Grand Prix Stakes with Bold Kings.

A three-year-old, Bold Kings had only raced six times prior to the Grand Prix, Korea’s most prestigious race, and despite having won all of them, was sent off as a 6/1 third-favourite behind Clean Up Joy and fellow youngster Triple Nine.

Under a tremendous ride by Jo Sung Gon, Bold Kings stole a couple of lengths entering the home straight to strike the front and then held off a slew of late challenges to win by a neck on the line in what is still regarded by many as having been the most exciting finish to a Grand Prix.

Always keen for new challenges – earlier in his career he had spent time riding in Macau – Jo Sung Gon spent the 2016 season in Seoul where he partnered Bichui Jeongsang to victory in the Ttukseom Cup.

That would be his final Group winner although after returning to Busan and reuniting with Wolsley, he guided Ace Korea to victory in the Listed Kookje Sinmun in November 2018.

An excellent jockey who was still at the peak of his powers, as well as a friendly and personable character, Jo Sung Gon will be missed. Thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues.

Rides: 5588
Wins: 874
Group 1 wins: 5
Other Group Wins: 8
Champion Jockey (Busan): 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013

International suicide helplines can be found at: https://www.befrienders.org/

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Summer Racing Schedule To Begin Friday

The 2019 Summer Racing program begins this weekend with Friday and Saturday cards set to begin mid afternoon and end at 9pm. Sunday racing will continue to follow its usual program.

Night Barrier

Floodlight racing returns this weekend

During July and August the racing schedule will typically be as follows:

Friday

Busan: 9 races from 14:30 to 21:00
Jeju: 9 races from 14:55 to 20:45

Saturday

Seoul: 10 races from 14:50 to 21:00
Jeju: 8 races from 14:00 to 17:45

Sunday

Seoul: 11 races from 10:45 to 18:00
Busan: 6 races from 12:40 to 17:05

There are exceptions though as during this period, each track will take one weekend off with the other two tracks picking up the slack with additional races. Jeju will be off on the final weekend of July meaning that on Friday July 26th, there will be a 14-race card at Busan and on Saturday July 27th, a 15-race card at Seoul.

Seoul will take the first weekend in August off and Busan the 2nd week meaning that on Friday 2nd and Friday 9th August, there will be no thoroughbred racing in Korea as Jeju will be the only track in operation.

Dolkong Back In Korea And Back On Top In Mayor’s Cup

Dolkong returned in sensational style last Sunday, storming home late to win the Busan Mayor’s Cup (KOR G2), his first race back in Korea since his Dubai World Cup Carnival heroics earlier this year.

The five-year-old only returned to full training earlier this month but having looked well when winning a trial in Seoul last week, Dolkong was able to travel to Busan to take his chance in the race that’s often referred to as the “Summer Grand Prix”

And take his chance he did, as Dolkong, sent off as second-favourite, produced a final furlong burst to deny YTN Cup winner Moonhak Chief another big race win.

Pre-race favourite was Cheongdam Dokki, so disappointing in the YTN last month, blew his chances at the start, stumbling and almost falling as he exited the gate – he would recover but was never a factor.

It was left to World Day to set the early pace and the four-year-old led the field into the home straight.

Once World Day was headed by stablemate New Legend, with Moonhak Chief in close attendance before Dolkong showed the acceleration that saw him win the Listed Curlin Handicap at Meydan and passed them all to win with just under a length in hand.

It was Dolkong’s first start for trainer Bae Dae-Sun and he was partnered for the first time by Johan Victoire, the French jockey scoring his biggest success in Korean racing to date.

Next assignment for Dolkong is expected to be the International G3 Korea Cup at Seoul on Sunday September 8.

 

Jockey Jeon Jin-Gu To Ride In Prix Longines Future Racing Stars Race At Chantilly This Sunday

Busan rider Jeon Jin-Gu is bound for France where he will represent Korea in the Prix Longines Future Stars race over a mile at Chantilly Racecourse on French Oaks Day this Sunday June 16.

jeonjingu.jpg

Jockey Jeon Jin-Gu, seen here after riding his first winner (Pic: KRA)

“I was really honoured to get the call-up and it’s exciting to get the opportunity to ride horses abroad” said Jeon Jin-Gu of his invitiation. “I’m looking forward to riding local (French-trained) horses and getting to ride at Chantilly Racecourse”.

Now 23-years old, Jeon Jin-Gu debuted in 2017 and has amassed 42 wins from 593 rides so far for a win-rate of 7.1%. He has a quinella strike-rate of 14.5% with 21.1% of his mounts finishing in the first three.

“I rode my first winner on just my second race ride” said Jeon “That’s the most memorable moment of my career so far”.

In addition to the race itself, jockeys will also have the opportinity to ride trackwork for local trainers. Other jockeys set to participate in this year’s even include Thomas Stockdale of Australia and Kabelo Matsunyane of South Africa, the latter coached by former Korea-based Jockey Trainer Robert Moore.

 

Deep Mind Five-Star In Oaks For Kim Young-kwan

Never write-off Kim Young-kwan. It’s the golden rule of Korean racing but some of us still fall prey to it from time-to-time. Just when it looked as though the nation’s dominant trainer could go through a season without winning one of the three-year-old Classic races, up pops Deep Mind to trounce fifteen rivals and win the Oaks by eight-lengths. At odds of 23/1.

While neither were expected to win, Deep Mind wasn’t even trainer Kim’s first-string. That was Amazon Yeogeol, but under Seo Seung-un, Deep Mind bounded out of gate 14 and got across to the lead. It was a simple plan – get in front on a very wet track and let the rest of them get in trouble in the mud and spray behind. It worked.

Dae Wan Ma, Sports Seoul Trophy winner and 2nd in the KRA Cup Mile, was sent off as the prohibitive favourite but having settled in the front half of the pack, jockey Antonio Da Silva had to get to work on her a full three-furlongs from home. The response was muted and she finished well down the field.

Instead, Deep Mind galloped away from the pack for a dominant triumph. Heung Buja got closest in 2nd place ahead of Miss Fact in 3rd making for a trifecta dividend in excess of 20,000/1. Peter Wolsley’s Top Of World was 4th and Luigi Riccardi’s Mamma Roma a creditable 5th.

For jockey Seo Seung-un it was a first win in the race but for trainer Kim it was a fifth with him previously having won four consecutive editions between 2013 and 2016. It’s also a first Classic win this season for Busan-trained horse after Seoul based gallopers Global Chukje and Wonderful Fly took out the KRA Cup Mile and Korean Derby respectively.

Deep Mind is by Menifee and is out of Urrikot (by Creek Cat), who was bred and raced in Korea. It was the seventh race of her career and her fourth win.

Johan Victoire Joins The 100-Club

Johan Victoire has become the latest foreign jockey to ride 100 winners in Korea.

Johan VictoireThe French rider reached the milestone when guiding 3/1 chance Fast Fashion to victory in race 4 on Korean Derby day at Seoul Racecourse last Sunday.

Victoire debuted in Seoul in July of 2017 scoring success with his very first mount and has maintained a steady stream of winners ever since.

The 100 came up just after he passed 920 rides in the country making for a win rate of almost 11%.

Victoire now lies in 8th place on the all-time foreign jockey list in Korea which is led by Ikuyasu Kurakane, way out in front in 347, followed by Djordje Perovic on 238.

Of the foreign jockeys currently riding in Korea, Franco Da Silva leads with 156 followed by Masa Tanaka on 133 and Antonio Da Silva on 129.

Victoire is one of three French jockeys licensed at Seoul right now with he and David Breux joined this month by Ryan Curatolo, who is beginning an intial four-month license.

 

 

Wonderful Fly Sensational In The Derby

The 2019 Korean Derby was turned into a one-horse procession as Wonderful Fly got the jump on his rivals early and and powered away to win the nation’s top three-year-old race by a near-record 13-lengths at Seoul Racecourse last Sunday.

Wonderful Fly KRA

While Global Chukje was sent off as a prohibitive favourite, the KRA Cup Mile winner was scarcely a factor. Breaking from an unfavourable gate he was wide the entire way around and could only run on for share of the minor money.

Wonderful Fly has similar bad luck with the draw down in Busan but from a perfect gate 5 this time, the result was never in doubt even if jockey Moon Se Young didn’t quite do as he was told.

“It wasn’t my instruction to lead” said trainer Park Dae-heung, “I wanted to be close but not in front. But I trust this jockey. It turned out he was right”.

Most of the other pre-race fancies such as True King and Glitter also struggled to play much of a role and so it was left to outsiders Simuangui Godong and Power Windy to fill out 2nd and 3rd, the latter coming from a seemingly tailed off last at the top of the stretch.

They finished the race an entire two-seconds after the winner, however.

Wonderful Fly Derby KRA

For trainer Park Dae-heung it was a first Derby in his twenty-third year of training. For Moon Se Young it was his third triumph in the race.

Wonderful Fly is a colt by Tiz Wonderful and out of Butterfly (by Pioneering).

The final race in the 2019 Korean Triple Crown series is the Minister’s Cup over 2000M at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday June 16th.