Djordje Perovic

Djordje Perovic Becomes Seoul’s First Foreign Champion Jockey

For the first time since 2009, Seoul Racecourse has a new Champion Jockey and for the first time ever, the champion is from overseas as Djordje Perovic wrapped up the 2017 title at the weekend bringing to an end Moon Se Young’s seven straight Championships.

Perovic

2017 Seoul Champion Jockey Djordje Perovic (Pic: KRA)

Earlier in the week, Perovic donned suit and bow-tie to pick up “Jockey Of The Year” and “Most Popular Jockey” titles at the annual “LetsRun Park Seoul Awards” but on the track, he could conceivably – if improbably – have been caught with closest rival Kim Yong Geun six behind heading into Seoul’s final two racing days of the year. Ultimately Kim would only add one more win while Perovic would find himself in the winner’s circle on four occasions across Saturday and Sunday to end the season on 106. Moon was 3rd on 84.

36-year-old Perovic, who sports nicknames of “The Balkan Wolf” and “Serbian Frankie” is licensed in Italy and even took time out this summer – as he has done in previous years too – to fulfill licensing requirements back in Europe. Debuting in 1997, he has won Group races in Italy, Croatia, Slovakia and Austria as well as his native Serbia where he has been “Jockey of The Year” on seven occasions as well as being named “Best Sportsman in the city of Kragujevac”.

He arrived in Seoul in 2015 and quickly got among the winners ending that year with 47 victories from 319 rides. More of the same followed in 2016 with 72 wins. In 2017 everything came together. With Moon Se Young opting to spend three months in Singapore and Jo Sung Gon and Jo In Kwen moving to Busan, Perovic quickly became the go-to-man for trainers at Seoul. He passed the 150 Korean winners mark in March and in October became just the second foreign jockey, after Ikuyasu Kurakane, to reach 200.

Perovic’s partnership with Song Moon Gil, who has emerged in the past two seasons as the real heavyweight in the Seoul trainer ranks, yielded the jockey big race success too. He partnered Clean Up Joy to wins in the Listed Herald Gyeongje and YTN Trophies in April and May before guiding Silver Wolf to the Ttukseom Cup in June, thereby securing his first Korean Group winner. In the autumn, he and Silver Wolf added the Listed Munhwa Ilbo Cup to their resumes.

Silver Wolf Ttukseom

Perovic landed his first Korean Group winner on Silver Wolf in the Ttukseom Cup (Pic: KRA)

Seoul Jockey Championship 2017 (Total Wins & Win %age)

1. Djordje Perovic – 106 (21.3%)
2. Kim Yong Geun – 97 (14.7%)
3. Moon Se Young – 84 (18.5%)
4. Lim Gi Won – 63 (15.6%)
5. Song Jae Chul – 46 (11.4%)
6. Lee Hyuk – 46 (10.1%)
7. Park Eul Woon – 43 (16.3%)
8. Kim Hye Sun – 41 (11.95)
9. Choi Bum Hyun – 37 (13.65)
10. Kim Dong Soo – 34 (9.4%)

13. Antonio Da Silva – 26 (7.8%)
21. Shinji Hatanaka – 19 (4.4%)
24. Johan Victoire – 18 (7.6%)
(Da Silva & Victoire only began riding in Korea in May and July respectively)

As this blog has noted for many years now, it is extremely difficult for foreign jockeys to become established in Korea. It isn’t enough to be a good jockey – although Perovic most certainly is one of those – but being able to shrug off the perceived indignities of the early months and the gulf in racing culture between Korea and some other countries, is no easy task, especially for the non-Japanese visitors. Life in general is not easy here – as one jockey who acquitted himself very well but opted not to stay beyond his initial four-month contract put it, it’s all very well only racing twice a week but after morning work is done at 8:30am, what do you do for the rest of the day, especially in winter?

We’ve also noted for many years that the jockey who finally did make the breakthrough would reap lucrative rewards. Djordje Perovic’s hard work and relentless focus has made him that jockey. As of the end of 2017, along with Shinji Hatanaka of Japan, he’s joined at Seoul by Antonio Da Silva and the French pair of Johan Victoire and David Breux. The former two have established themselves well and the latter made an extremely promising start this past weekend.

The Perovic model isn’t going to be an easy one to follow and it may be that this year proves to be the exception rather than the rule but he’s demonstrated it can be done and thoroughly deserves the success that he’s earned.

Djordje Perovic is Seoul Racecourse Champion Jockey of 2017.

Advertisements

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.

Djordje1

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.

150-Up Perovic As Shamrocker & Champ Line Win Well At Seoul & Busan

Djordje Perovic rode his 150th Korean winner at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon and not many of them will have been easier than the landmark one which arrived on Shamrocker in the 2300M Championship Series feature.

20170319_173525-1

Djordje Perovic returns to scale on Shamrocker

Possibly the biggest challenge for Perovic on Sunday would have been the 52kg weight assigned to the on the up Shamrocker but once that was made there was only likely to be one winner in the race which was run over the maximum distance used at Seoul. After a steady start, Shamrocker hit the front early in the home straight and cantered away from the field to win by six lengths on the line.

It had taken Shamrocker (Dublin), a $30,000 purchase as a 2-year-old at OBS in Florida, eight starts to get his maiden victory but yesterday’s was his fifth in total and second consecutive at class 1. He could have a big summer ahead of him.

Djordje Perovic could well have a big summer ahead of him too. Shamrocker was his 31st victory of 2017 and leaves him five clear of perennial champion Moon Se Young at the top of the standings. With Moon set to spend at least three months of this year in Singapore, Perovic is in pole position to become the first foreign jockey to claim the Seoul championship.

150 wins also ties Perovic with Joe Fujii – who spent Saturday watching Winx disappear into the distance at Rosehill – in 2nd place in the all-time foreign jockey standings in Korea.

Down at Busan a foreign jockey was on top too with Yonekura Satoshi winning Sunday’s feature – also a Championship Series race – over 2200M. It came on Thomas Gillespie’s Champ Line over what was a high class Busan field.

Success Story, as ever, set the early pace but was always likely to struggle to maintain it over the extended distance and so it proved as a host of horses swept by him in the closing stages.

It was Champ Line who did it the most convincingly, running on very strongly for victory by almost three lengths. Places 2nd-6th came home within a half-length of each other, surprisingly headed by 100/1 outsider Bathsheba Park, who was given an enterprising ride by Marios Mina.

Champ Line (Curlin) moves on to 10 wins from 19 starts and is on a four-race winning streak and heads an impressively effective string that has been put together by talented trainer Gillespie.

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.

djorde

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”.

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.

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.

belli2.jpg

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.

ms_marg1.jpg

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.

Saturday Round-Up

There was Class 1 action at Seoul Racecourse on Saturday afternoon and it was 8/1 shot Ganghae who returned to the winner’s circle for the first time in over a year as he got the best of a tight finish to win the seven furlong contest.

Ganghae (Didyme) recorded consecutive 2nd place finishes in Stakes races last year but yesterday would record his 7th career win, racing forward throughout under jockey Choi Bum Hyun and holding off the fast finishing 2nd-favourite Grade Captain by a neck on the line.

Grade Captain was ridden by Djordje Perovic and the “Balkan Wolf” was in superb form throughout the day, partnering three winners; Power Jeongsang in race 3, Bulkkochwangja in race 5 and Whiz Speed in race 6 to move onto 59 Korean winners.

In other races, US filly Wow Cat (Cowtown Cat) continued her development, taking the class 3 race 10 by just over a length to chalk up her 3rd win in 7 starts.

Racing retirns to Seoul Sunday with 11 races including the Donga Ilbo Cup. Race 1 is at 10:50. There are 6 races at Busan with the first underway at 1pm.