Cho Kyoung Ho, one of the top Korean jockeys of the past decade, has retired. The 38-year-old’s current license expired on December 7 and he opted not to apply for renewal.
Tough Win and Cho Kyoung Ho win the Grand Prix Stakes in 2011 (KRA)
Debuting in 2001 at the rather advanced age of 25, as was common for Korean jockeys at that time, Cho quickly became one of the top riders on the peninsula. His first Stakes win came in the 2003 JRA Trophy on Tempest West and he would partner the same horse to victory in the Grand Prix Stakes later in the year.
He would win the President’s Cup, Korea’s richest race, on four occasions with back-to-back wins on Myeongmun Gamun in 2007 and 2008 a highlight but it is for his partnership with Tough Win that Cho Kyoung Ho will perhaps be best remembered for. Together they won the Busan Metropolitan City Stakes twice – three years apart – as well as the KRA Cup Classic and the Grand Prix Stakes.
Although in recent times, he had dramatically cut back on his riding commitments, Cho was still in the Stakes winner’s circle as recently as June this year when he guided Geumseongi to victory in the Sports Chosun Cup.
Cho Kyoung Ho retires with career figures of 827 wins from 4964 rides including 29 Stakes race wins, six of which were in Korean Group 1 races.
As of February, jockeys at Seoul Race Park can once again designate themselves freelance and eleven local riders have opted to join Japanese jockey Yukio Abe in being unattached to a trainer.
I’m Free! Moon Se Young is among 11 jockeys goinf freelance
The majority of the track’s big names are among them, including current champion Moon Se Young (who is riding in Macau at the moment), current leader Jo In Kwen and all-time great Park Tae Jong.
Kim Hae Sun, who is poised to shortly become the all-time leading female thoroughbred jockey in Korea joins them.
The advantage of a jockey being freelance is that he or she is not restricted in the number of rides they can accept across a weekend of racing while the disadvantage (in theory) is that they have to battle for every mount. They also do not receive a salary from a trainer for trackwork but instead get paid per work.
The full list is as follows:
Kim Young Jin
Moon Se Young
Cho Kyoung Ho
Park Tae Jong
Jang Chu Yeol
Kim Hae Sun
Park Sang Woo
Lee Sang Hyeok
Jo In Kwen
Oh Kyoung Hoan
Yoo Seung Wan
As a foreign rider, Yukio Abe was already a freelancer even when the locals weren’t. Abe recently received an extension to his license to ride at Seoul but is having a quiet time at Seoul despite being a roaring success at Busan.
Down on the South-Coast, where different union agreements exist among the riders, the two Japanese jockeys, Joe Fujii and Narazaki Kosuke remain the only freelancers and both are in demand from owners and trainers.
The first Stakes race of 2013 was run at Seoul Race Park on Saturday afternoon and it went the way of 3/1 joint second-favourite Global Fusion (Menifee).
Global Fusion and Cho Kyong Ho return after winning the New Year Stakes
Yaho Pilseung (Exploit) was sent off as favourite but, despite jockey Choi Bum Hyun’s frantic efforts, refused to break when the gates opened, leaving himself with 20 length to make up on the field – much to the chagrin of punters. In his absence at the business end of the race, Global Fusion, who was always well-placed, got the better of Naejangsan (Menifee) in the final furlong.
Global Fusion (Menifee-Morning Red Sky) is a 4-year-old colt and moves onto 6 wins from 12 starts, qualifying for class 1 races in the process. For jockey Cho Kyoung Ho, it was a welcome return to big race form after a disappointing end to 2012.
Another jockey enjoying a good start to 2013 was Yukio Abe. The Japanese rider has had a challenging time getting rides since moving to Seoul midway through last year after a successful stint at Busan. He’s begun the year well though, landing a double on Saturday first through Sudden Fortune (Latent Heat) in race 5 and then on Appealing Jeil (Exploit) in race 13.
Winning: Seo Seung Un
The best start of all, however, was made by Seo Seung Un. The second year jockey ride four winners across the weekend and, along with Jo In Kwen, looks set to make Champion Jockey Moon Se Young work very hard if he is to retain his title.
They will certainly have a chance to gain a big lead as Moon is spending the early part of the season riding in Macau. On Saturday, Moon rode his first winner there, partnering 22/1 chance Mr. Excellency to victory over 1200 metres on turf. As well as Moon, Boo Min Ho is also riding on a short-term license in Macau but is yet to score after 5 ides.
* One notable result from Busan on Friday was a second consecutive win for 3-year-old gelding My Key (Macho-Uno-Worldly Pleasure). The half-brother of US champion Game On Dude broke his maiden last time out by 10 lengths and on Friday, despite stepping up in class, was a 7 length winner in race 6.
Busan’s Sunday feature race was won by another horse with a famous sibling – in Korean terms anyway. Dongteuja (Montbrook-Maremaid) is the half-sister of two-time Grand Prix winner Dongbanui Gangja. She was the 3 length winner of the 1800 metre contest to record her 7th victory from 12 starts.
Cho Kyoung Ho To Miss Grand Prix After DQ of Chowon Yeoje
11/1 chance Speedus won the Nonghyup Chairman’s Stakes at a chilly Seoul Race Park this afternoon in an ugly renewal which could have an impact on the season ending Grand Prix Stakes.
The three-year old filly hit the front with two furlongs to run and kept well clear of the carnage caused by jockey Cho Kyoung Ho on favourite Chowon Yeoje near the furlong pole which caused jockey Bang Choon Sik to fall from his mount and for four other fillies to be severely hampered.
Cho picked up a six meeting ban for his ride which will begin on December 1 and run until the end of the year. It means he will miss the ride on Tough Win if the five-year old tries to defend his Grand Prix Stakes title. Nevertheless, Cho can consider himself lucky after a very reckless ride.
Using his stick a ridiculously high number of times even before the home straight, Chowon Yeoje appeared to finally have had enough and lurched across the track with a furlong to run.
The winner though was a worthy one. Speedus finished on top for the fourth time in her twelve starts, six lengths clear of Dolpung Jilju.
It was a second consecutive triumph in this race for jockey Choi Bum Hyun, who won last year on Cheonun, and his first trip to the Stakes winner’s circle in 2012. With a big ride potentially up for grabs in the Grand Prix, he may just get another chance.
Nonghyup Chairman’s Stakes – Seoul Race Park – 1400M – Sunday November 18, 2012
1. Speedus (KOR) [Menifee-Tourney’s Gold (Ten Gold Pots)] – Choi Bum Hyun – 11.9, 4.1 2. Dolpung Jilju (KOR) [Didyme-Alder Gulch (Gulch)] – 2.3 3. X File (KOR) [Exploit-Dorothy Dee (Woodman)] – Seo Seung Un – 4.2
It was, in no uncertain terms, a catastrophic day for Korean horse racing. A post on the death of Mister Park will be up shortly, however, there are some other things to catch up on.
Those present at Seoul Race Park were still absorbing what they just seen happen at Busan when the field went to post for the 23rd running of the Sports Chosun Cup. The race was won by 2/1 favourite Yacheonsaryeongbu (Vicar).
Yacheonsaryeongbu won the Sports Chosun Cup
Sports Chosun Cup – Seoul Race Park – 1800M – June 3, 2012
1. Yacheonsaryeongbu (KOR) [Vicar – Zabella (Zabeel)] – Lee Sang Hyeok – 2.9, 1.6 2. Shoot In (KOR) [Exploit – Doneitmyway (Northern Flagship)] – Cho Kyoung Ho – 1.7 3. Kakamega (KOR) [Gold Money – Daecheonpung (Fiercely)] – Jang Chu Youl – 4.4 Distances: 0.75 lengths/Nose – 13 ran
Mister Park was carrying 63kg when he suffered his injury, a result of the new increased maximum weights for handicaps. Online reaction in Korea to the event has focused on criticism of the new system.
Bearing in mind what had happened an hour earlier, the fact that Tough Win (Yonaguska), who beat Mister Park in the Grand Prix Stakes last year to end the latter’s 17 race winning streak, was scheduled to carry 64kg, there was a great deal of anxiety prior to Seoul’s feature handicap. Indeed, in the paddock there were shouts from some in the crowd for him to be scratched.
Tough Win suffered his first bleeding attack
He wasn’t and he won by just over two lengths, his 17th career victory. Jockey Cho Kyoung Ho did absolutely no more than he needed to in order to win and jumped down from the Tough Win as soon as he could after they crossed the line before walking him back to unsaddle.
The horse looked in good shape but it was later confirmed that he had suffered his first bleeding attack in 21 starts. It automatically rules him out for a month. If he gets another it will be three months, and then permanent.
A nasty coincidence, but on the day we lost one of our superstars, no-one was much in the mood to see it that way. Tough Win’s next target is the Busan Metropolitan City Stakes next month, a race where mercifully, he won’t be required to carry so much.
Ending on a positive note, Gerrit Schlechter kept up his great run of form at Busan. The South African recorded three winners on the day, including two for trainer Peter Wolsley.
Anything Smarty Moonhak can do, Tough Win can do too. While the young upstart had romped to two easy victories already this year, the horse who beat him in the Grand Prix Stakes remained in the stables until today.
The Eyes Have It: Tough Win
Eleven rivals showed up to face him, chief among them Jumong (Johar) but Tough Win, despite carrying the maximum 63kg, was sent off long odds-on favourite.
Just as in the Grand Prix last year and in contrast to his earlier starts, Cho Kyoung Ho kept Tough Win right at the back of the field. At one point, the pair were at least 20 lengths off the pace although with Jo In Kwen keeping Jumong well back too, there was little in front to concern the favourite.
They improved around the home turn and then, after a couple of taps entering the home straight, Tough Win sprinted away from the field. Cho eased him down throughout the final furlong and the favourite was practically down to a trot as he crossed the line five lengths ahead of Jumong.
It’s 15 wins from 19 starts for Tough Win now but other than knowing he’s in godd shape, we learned very little today. Indeed, everything he and Smarty Moonhak do in these handicaps seems little more than empty posturing leading up until the time they finally clash again.
Two years ago, eveyone was anticipating Dongbanui Gangja vs Tough Win. When it arrived, it was a disappointment as the unruly double Grand Prix winner pulled an Orfevre. The anticipation for this next one, with Mister Park in the mix too, is far greater.
The clash could come at Busan and, down on the south coast today there were co-feature races. Akane Yamamoto continued her recent run of form in big handicaps by winning the first on Money Tree (Medallist). Running third in the race was 2009 Minister’s Cup winner Namdo Jeap (Ft. Stockton). It was the former champion’s first placed finish for a year and the first on Korea for his jockey, Narazaki Kosuke.
* Next week it’s Seoul vs Busan for the first time in 2012 as some of the peninsula’s best fillies and mares come to the capital for the Ttukseom Cup.
Favourite Darling Vision swooped to win the New Year Stakes on opening day at Seoul Race Park.
Darling Vision and Cho Kyoung Ho in the New Year's Stakes winner's circle
Coming into the race on the back of a strong end to her three-year old season, the four-year-old filly was always travelling well under jockey Cho Kyoung Ho and the pair came wide to win by a length from rank outsider Bon Rising, who led the rest of the field home by a nose.
It was Darling Vision’s fifth win in four starts and marked a very quick return to the Stakes winner’s circle for jockey Cho Kyoung Ho who ended last season in the best possible way with victory on Tough Win in the Grand Prix Stakes. Darling Vision is no Tough Win, but she won handily enough to suggest that she cause problems in tougher races than this later in the year.
Also winning handily was three-year-old colt Viva Cat (Creek Cat), who got the race to the Triple Crown underway with a smart victory in race 7. Racing around two turns for the first time, Viva Cat posted his fourth win from five career starts to date. There’s a long way to go until the first of the Triple Crown races, the KRA Cup Mile on the first Sunday of April, but things are off to a good start.
The afternoon’s feature handicap was a very open betting race and it was US five-year-old Jumong (Johar-Foreign Aid) who got the better of top filly Kkakjaengi (Put It Back) to take the spoils over nine and a half furlongs.
Herald Business New Year Stakes – Seoul Race Park – 1800M – Jan 7, 2011
1. Darling Vision (KOR) [Perfect Champion-Groom’s Darling (Runaway Groom)] – Cho Kyoung Ho – 3.2, 1.5 2. Bon Rising (KOR) [Volponi-Shadaroba (El Prado)] – Lee Gang Seo – 18.1 3. Summit Runner (KOR) [Capital Spending-Zeppelin Zu (Night Zeppelin)] – Jang Chu Yeol – 7.6
Distances: 1 length/Nose Also Ran: 4. Kakamega 5. King Fighting 6. Prime Galloper 7. Fly Energy 8. Seoul Jeongsang 9. Forest Wind 10. Palgigun 11. Storm Troop 12. Manjeomhwanhui 13. Beongaegangho 14. Seungniuihamseong
Racing returns to Seoul on Sunday with 12 races from 11:10 to 17:30. There is no racing at Busan.
Tough Win Beats Mister Park & Smarty Moonhak to Win Korean Racing’s Showcase Race
Tough Win ended the seventeen run unbeaten streak of defending champion Mister Park as he took victory in a thrilling renewal of the Grand Prix Stakes at Seoul Race Park this afternoon.
The four-year old gelding was sent off third in the betting but made no mistake with a perfectly timed run as he came through late to overtake Mister Park in the final furlong and win by just over half a length.
As expected, Tamna Ace made the early running but it was Akane Yamamoto and Mister Park who quickly took over at the front. In the backstraight there was excitement as Shim Seung Tae brought the two-year old prodigy, Smarty Moonhak up alongside the leader and these two were neck and neck as they rounded the home turn.
Tough Win in the Grand Prix winner's circle
Behind them though, Tough Win and Cho Kyoung Ho had begun to make their move. In the home straight, Mister Park managed to shake Smarty Moonhak but on the outside, Tough Win was always closing and when he went by, Mister Park had no response.
It was a 14th win from 18 lifetime starts for Tough Win, a $12,000 purchase at the June 2009 Ocala Two-year old Sales. He suffered his first loss in this race last year and was out of the money for the only time in his career in this summer’s Busan Metropolitan. Today, however, everything came together as he scored the win his talent has always promised to deliver.
Mister Park - Unbeaten run came to an end
Mister Park’s front-running style means he always runs the risk of not having enough left in the home straight. Akane Yamamoto managed to control his pace well but he simply couldn’t hold on.
Completing the first three was the wildcard, Smarty Moonhak. In the build-up to the race, few people were talking about anything other than the first two-year old in the Grand Prix’s 30 year history to take his chance. Although he didn’t win, he proved he is the real deal.
Smarty Moonhak - Big run in third
There’s no disgrace in being beaten by a pair such as Tough Win and Mister Park and, having stayed the distance, he was six lengths clear of the fourth horse home. Provided he stays sound, at this moment in time, it is hard to see anything beating him next year. Tomorrow morning, updated rankings will be published and Smarty Moonhak will find himself the first two-year old ever to be promoted to Class 1, the highest level of racing here.
As for the others, 2010 Korean Derby winner Cheonnyeon Daero went quietly into retirement in 9th place while KRA Cup Classic winner Ace Galloper was a disappointing 11th. Peter Wolsley’s first attempt at a Grand Prix was not a happy one with the grey Gyeongkwaehanjilju tailing the field home in 14th.
Today though was about three top horses. One has the Korean racing world abuzz with his potential and ran today like no two-year old should; one met with no disgrace as he saw his record-breaking winning streak come to a battling end. The other, Tough Win, is Korea’s Champion Racehorse of 2011.
Grand Prix Stakes (KOR G1) – Seoul Race Park – 2300M – December 11, 2011