Holy Moely

Another Milestone For Lee Shin Young – Female Trainer Saddles Selangor Turf Club Victor

By the end of the year, Korea may well have its first female President. Of course, the woman in question has had some advantages. She is, after all, the daughter of the dictator who presided over nearly two decades of extraordinary economic development – and numerous human rights abuses. However, if it happens, it will still be an historic moment.

Another Milestone: Lee Shin Young (Pic: KRA)

There is another woman worthy of respect; a woman who should be headlining news bulletins and giving speeches at the nation’s top Universities. For more than ten years, Lee Shin Young has been achieving things no other woman has ever before come close to in the ultra-male dominated world of Korean horse racing. Today, she achieved a little more.

Lee Shin Young was only the third Korean woman to gain a jockey license. She rode 90 winners before last year, at the age of 31, becoming the first Korean woman to qualify as a trainer and open her own barn. It would be wrong to say that most expected her to fail.

Even those who may wanted have her to fall on her face – and there were some – knew enough about Lee to not make the mistake of underestimating her. A formidable character and talent, she was always going to succeed.

With 15 winners from her first 100 runners, Lee entered four-year old colt Holy Moely (Nihon Pillow Neil) into the Selangor Turf Club Trophy at Seoul Race Park today. Under jockey Shin Hyoung Chul – 13 years Lee’s senior, the 9-1 chance led from gate-to-wire in driving rain to record a comfortable victory.

It wasn’t a Stakes race, but it was by far the biggest win of Lee’s training career to date. She has 17 horses under her care now and more are likely to come.

You never see a woman leading-up or hot-walking a horse at Seoul or Busan. However, young jockeys such as Kim Hae Sun and Lee Ah Na are coming through and there are now more young women in the KRA’s education system. Check their Facebook pages and without fail, they list Lee Shin Young as the person they most admire.

She’s unknown outside of racing circles and she’s probably not at all bothered by that. She should be as what she has achieved deserves wider recognition. What’s most exciting though, is at just 32 years of age, her greatest achievements are perhaps still yet to come.

Selangor Turf Club Trophy – Seoul Race Park – 1800M – April 21, 2012

1. Holy Moely (KOR) [Nihon Pillow Neil-A.P.Ranshu (Adjudicating)] – Shin Hyoung Chul – 9.6, 3.2
2. Special Win (KOR) [Tahamkke-Wellbeing Cat (Creek Cat)] – Moon Jung Kyun – 2.0
3. Capital Song (KOR) [Capital Spending-Songstress (Bluebird)] – Cho Kyoung Ho – 1.7

Distances: 2.5 lengths/1 lengths – 14 ran.

Life’s Pretty Easy For A Boy Named Seo

Ham Wan Sik landed his 400th career winner today but it’s Seo Seung Un who continues to make the headlines.

Seo Seung Un returns after his 25th winner

The young jockey became the quickest in modern times to reach 25 winners and seems sure to become the first apprentice jockey to ride out his weight allowance in his first year in the saddle.

Seo, who debuted last August, landed a double on his first weekend and hasn’t looked back since. Last Saturday he scored a “true treble”, with wins in races 6, 7, and 8 – something the vast majority of Korean jockeys go through their careers without doing.

Today he was in top form, guiding Magic Light (Exploit) to victory by a head in race 7.

Twenty-two year old Seo is fourth in this year’s Jockeys’ Championship and is already being touted by the Korean racing press as potentially the best riding talent to emerge from the country.

The real test will come when he loses his weight allowance. New apprentice jockeys start with a 4 kilo advantage, losing a kilo for every ten winners (there is no time limit on this) and then they are left to compete with the very best for rides. On all the evidence so far, this will not be a problem for Seo Seung Un.

Ham Wan Sik is a jockey who has had a lot of tests to overcome since he gained his license fourteen years ago.

One of the taller riders in the weighing room, Ham faces a constant struggle to keep his weight down and his fluctuating minimum weight has, on occasion, caused problems for him. Today, however, he became one of a select few jockeys in Korea to pass the milestone of 400 career winners.

Ham Wan Sik celebrates win number 401

It came in race 7 on the aptly named Bulls Eye (Ingrandire) and he quickly followed up with number 401 on Holy Moely (Nihon Pillow Neil) in race 10.

Ham Wan Sik debuted in 1998 and has three Stakes wins to his name, the biggest being the 2007 Owners’ Association Trophy, which he won on Gwacheon Ruler. His best year in terms of winners was in 2006 when he scored 53.

Indeed, it is possible that Ham’s silks are better known than he is. In Korea, jockeys wear their own colours and Ham’s appeared in the 2006 racing movie Gakseoltang and also in 2011’s Champ, where he was referred to by name as being a friend of the lead character. Today though, he was recognised for what he does on the track.

Racing returns to Seoul on Sunday and it is a big day as 2011 Grand Prix Stakes winner Tough Win make his season debut.