Jo Sung Gon

Major King Crowned Minister’s Cup Champion

Major King led from gate-to-wire to land the Minister’s Cup as the 2013 Korean Triple Crown wrapped up at Seoul Race Park this afternoon.

He might have fluffy ears, but Major King is now a Classic winner

He might have fluffy ears, but Major King is now a Classic winner

Korean Derby and Oaks winning filly Speedy First was sent off as the short-priced favourite but she was never in the race and faded in the home straight to finish a tailed-off last.

Third in the Derby on this track in May, the grey Major King was a 9/1 chance at the start and was immediately sent into the lead by jockey Jo Sung Gon. When the expected challenges from Speedy First and Derby-second Unhae failed to materialise, it was left to outsider High Five and Gyeongnam DoMin Ilbo winner Indie Band to apply the pressure.

They didn’t come close. Instead, Major King kicked on for victory, leading his fellow Busan visitors home by 2-lengths on the line.

Major King is by the late Brazilian sire Pico Central, who died earlier this year. The victory is his 6th from 10 career starts to date. For trainer Kim Sang Seok, it was a 3rd Classic winner, having won both the Korean Derby and Oaks in 2008 with Ebony Storm and Jeolho Chance respectively. For jockey Jo Sung Gon, Busan’s current champion, it was a 4th Classic and his 2nd in this race, having previously won it in on Sangseung Ilro in 2009.

As for the favourite, Speedy First returned with no obvious sign of injury, although fellow disappointment Unhae was found to be lame.

So, after Jigeum I Sungan upset the order of things by winning two Classics for Seoul last year, normal service has been resumed this with Busan horses winning all 4 Classics. When the two tracks collide again in the Gyeongnam Governor’s and President’s Cups over the next few weeks, it seems unlikely that this will change.

Minister’s Cup (KOR G2) – Seoul Race Park – 2000M – October 6, 2013

1. Major King (KOR) [Pico Central – Still Golden (Gold Fever)] – Jo Sung Gon – 9.1. 2.4
2. High Five (KOR) [Creek Cat – Nam’s Gulch (Gulch)] – Choi Si Dae – 5.5
3. Indie Band (KOR) [Ecton Park – Plie (Dixieland Band)] – Lim Sung Sil – 1.5

Distances: 2 lengths/0.5 lengths
Also Ran: 4. K Tap 5. Brig 6. Geumbin Mannam 7. Sting Ray 8. Last Mudae 9. Best Captain 10. Unhae 11. Rising Joy 12. Speedy First

* There was no fairy-tale return to the track today for Smarty Moonhak (Smarty Jones). The 4-year-old, returning to racing for the first time since successful treatment for tendinitis which had kept him sidelined for 15 months, could only manage 6th in the class 1 race 13.

The event was won by the improving Watts Village (Forestry), who was 2nd in the Korea vs Japan race last month and who will travel to Tokyo for the return leg next month. The old Smarty Moonhak would have made short work of the likes of Watts Village but, while he was 5-lengths behind the winner, he was just 2 lengths adrift of 2nd and the run showed some promise.

* Down at Busan, Darryll Holland was the star of the show for the 2nd time this week. The British jockey notched up 4 winners on Thursday and added another 2 during the short 4-race card this afternoon. His haul included the feature race, where he partnered Peter Wolsley’s Perfect Jilju (Paradise Creek) to a very comfortable victory.

Seoul International Jockey Challenge 2013: The Home Team

We’ve already taken a look at the jockeys who will be visiting Korea to make up the Rest Of The World team in this weekend’s Seoul International Jockey Challenge, now it’s time to examine the home team.

Moon Se Young

Moon Se Young

Moon Se Young: The reigning champion jockey at Seoul, Moon has won just about every big race going in his 12-year career to date including the Korean Derby and Grand Prix Stakes.

Second on the all-time Korean winners’ list with nearly 900 wins. Earlier this year, Moon spent a successful 3 months riding in Macao and despite giving his rivals such a head start, is already up to 3rd in the 2013 championship at home

Park Tae Jong

Park Tae Jong

Park Tae Jong: The only jockey to have ridden more winners than Moon Se Young, Park is also perhaps the only jockey to be known by the wider Korean public.

In his 26 years in the saddle, he’s ridden nearly 2,000 winners (from just 11,000 rides) and has won pretty much all there is to win in Korea. Korean Oaks aside, if he’s not won it, no-one has.

Jo In Kwen

Jo In Kwen

Jo In Kwen: One of the new generation of jockeys who benefitted from the KRA’s improved training during the last few years, Jo In Kwen debuted in 2008 and currently leads the 2013 standing with 62 winners.

Only three Stakes wins to date but very talented and is expected to go on to become one of the dominant jockeys of the next decade in Korea.

Seo Seung Un

Seo Seung Un

Seo Seung Un: He burst onto the scene in 2011 riding 2 winners on his debut weekend. He then went to the USA for further training, riding 2 winners in the process. He participated in the Asia Young Guns Challenge in Macao last year.

Seo rode out his apprentice claim in a Korean record time and, while yet to secure the really big rides, currently lies 2nd in the 2013 championship.

Jo Sung Gon

Dangdae Bulpae and Jo Sung Gon will look for a 2nd consecutive Busan Metropolitan

Jo Sung Gon: Busan’s champion jockey will travel to Seoul for the event and when he comes to the capital, Jo Sung Gon usually wins. That’s because he’s usually partnering Dangdae Bulpae, who’s won more Stakes races than any other Korean horse.

He won’t be on him this time but Jo is considered by some observers to be the most talented local jockey at either Seoul or Busan and is currently running away with the 2013 Busan championship.

Yoo Hyun Myung

Yoo Hyun Myung

Yoo Hyun Myung: Another Busan jockey completes the home team. Yoo Hyun Myung won the Grand Prix Stakes on Mister Park at Seoul in 2010 and has been consistently among Busan’s top riders for the last few years. He comes into the event in good form.

All jockeys will compete in four races over the weekend, culminating in the YTN Cup on Sunday evening. Rides will be allocated by a draw which will take place at Declarations on Thursday afternoon at Seoul Racecourse.

Dangdae Bulpae Completes President’s Cup Hat-Trick In Emphatic Style

Dangdae Bulpae sent records tumbling as he cruised to a dominating victory in the President’s Cup at Seoul Race Park this afternoon.

Dangdae Bulpae and Jo Sung Gon in the President’s Cup winner’s circle for the third consecutive year

Not only was it the five-year old’s third consecutive win in Korea’s richest race, an unprecedented feat, it was also his ninth Stakes win and took him to close to 3 Billion Won in career prize money, neither of which have ever been achieved by any other horse on the peninsula.

In the betting ring, punters sent Dangdae Bulpae off as the slight favourite in chilly, wet and blustery conditions, just ahead of Korean Derby winner Jiguem I Sungan. On the track, however, no-one even got close. Under Jo Sung Gon, Dangdae Bulpae hit the front as the field started to turn for home and once he did, the contest was over.

Moon Se Young may have left Jigeum I Sungan’s late run a little too late but he was never going to catch the winner, with the margin four lengths on the line after Jo had eased down the defending champion in the final furlong. Jigeum I Sungan held off KRA Cup Mile winner Gyeongbudaero by a head to claim third.

The victory was the eighteenth of Dangdae Bulpae’s career. As a three-year old he disappointed in the Cup Mile before finishing third in the Korean Derby. He made his breakthrough in the final Classic of the season, the Minister’s Cup before going on to claim his first President’s Cup. He finished the year on a low note, however, failing to get the trip in the Grand Prix Stakes, ending up in eleventh.

Although Busan based, he returned to Seoul as a four-year to win the Ttukseom Cup before a summer wobble saw him taste back to back Stakes defeats. He was back in form for the President’s Cup, however, winning comfortably.

Trainer Yoo Byung Bok greets his horse after training him to his third President’s Cup

Defeated by the late Mister Park early this year, Dangdae Bulpae beat an out of sorts Tough Win and a found to be lame Smarty Moonhak to win the Busan Metropolitan Cup and then claimed the Busan Owners’ Cup before returning to Seoul for today’s triumph.

The only thing missing now is the Grand Prix. Uniquely, invites to run in the Grand Prix are decided by public vote. If Dangdae Bulpae’s name is on the ballot, he’ll surely be voted in in top place and, with no Mister Park or Smarty Moonhak and an inconsistent Tough Win, it will be difficult for connections to keep him away a second year running.

Jigeum I Sungan has a shot at being there too. The Derby winner looks like he will be a very tough proposition next year. Gyeongbudaero too showed once again that he can compete among the best. There was a scare, however, for Rising Glory. Jockey Joe Fujii dismounted from the Oaks winner as soon as they crossed the line and although superficially no injury was apparent, she was sent for a full vet’s check-up.

The President’s Cup (KOR G1) – Seoul Race Park – 2000M – November 11, 2012

1. Dangdae Bulpae (KOR) [Biwa Shinseiki-Indeed My Deed (Alydeed) – Jo Sung Gon – 1.9, 1.2
2. Jigeum I Sungan (KOR) [Ingrandire-Solmaru (Mujaazif)] – Moon Se Young – 1.4
3. Gyeongbudaero (KOR) [Menifee-Princess Lanique (Cherokee Run)] – 2.2

Distances: 4 length/Head
Also Ran: 4. Seungnuihanseong 5. Magnnifique 6. Powerful Korea 7. Nobel Pokpung 8. Special Win 9. Yeonseung Daero 10. High Point 11. Cheot Insang DQ. Golden Rose DQ. Rising Glory.

Dangdae Bulpae Owns Busan

Easy win for Dangdae Bulpae in Owners’ Cup / Gerrit Schlechter wins Gold Circle Trophy in Fine Fine / Jigeum I Sungan takes victory in Seoul / Game On Dude’s half-brother debuts

It was one of very few Stakes races he was eligible for that he hadn’t won but today, Dangdae Bulpae added the Busan Owners’ Cup to his massively impressive resume in almost contemptuous fashion at a rainswept Busan Race Park.

Sent off as the overwhelming favourite in the 12-strong field, the two-time President’s Cup champion was taken straight to the front by jockey Jo Sung Gon and the pair never looked like giving up that position, Jo easing Dangdae Bulpae (Biwa Shinseiki) to a 2 length victory on the line.

Behind them, KRA Cup Mile winner Gyeongbudaero (Menifee) got the best of a competitive battle for second place, just edging out Powerful Korea (Distilled).

Dangdae Bulpae moves on to 17 wins from 26 starts and with today’s victory he becomes the first Korean horse to win more than US $2Million in prize-money and has won a record-breaking 8 Korean Stakes races. His next target looks set to be an attempt on a third consecutive President’s Cup at Seoul in November, after which connections will have to decide whether to pit him against Tough Win in the Grand Prix Stakes.

Busan Owners’ Cup (KOR.G3) – Busan Race Park – 2000M – September 9, 2012

1. Dangdae Bulpae (KOR) [Biwa Shinseiki – Indeed My Dear (Alydeed)] – Jo Sung Gon 1.2, 1.0
2. Gyeongbudaero (KOR) [Menifee Princess Lanique (Cherokee Run)] – Narazaki Kosuke – 1.5
3. Powerful Korea (KOR) [Distilled – Bound To Score (Quick Score)] – You Hyun Myung – 4.5
Distances: 2.5 lengths/0.5 lengths – 12 ran

Dangdae Bulpae isn’t the only one with an impressive record in big races. Before today, two of Gerrit Schlechter’s 30 Korean winners had come in Stakes races – the KNN Cup and Geyongnam Governor’s Trophy. Today the South African jockey added a third, appropriately enough in the Gold Circle Trophy, a race sponsored by South Africa’s Gold Circle Turf Club.

Schlechter guided second favourite Fine Fine (Forest Camp) to an extremely comfortable 7 length victory in the 1400 metre race.

Longest shot on the board Pull Queen (Giacomo) was second while pre-race favourite Myeongun Jewang (Forest Camp), who fetched the highest bid at last year’s Jeju Sales, was third. Fine Fine now has 6 wins from his 13 starts and looks set to be in class 1 company next time.

Gold Circle Trophy – Busan Race Park – 1400M – September 9, 2012

1. Fine Fine (KOR) [Forest Camp – Dream Fantasy (Manlove)] – Gerrit Schlechter – 3.4, 1.4
2. Pull Queen (KOR) [Giacomo – Gold Buzz (Touch Gold)] – Jo Chan Hoon – 11.1
3. Myeongun Jewang (KOR) [Forest Camp – Fully Approved (With Approval)] – 1.3
Distances: 7 lengths/0.75 lengths – 9 ran

Derby winner Jigeum I Sungan back in the winner’s circle at Seoul

It may have been a dreadful day weather-wise at Busan but up in the capital Seoul, it was quite beautiful. In the feature race, Jigeum I Sungan (Ingrandire) returned to the winner’s circle for the first time since his victory in the Korean Derby in May.

The colt was far too quick for his rivals in his first attempt among older class 1 company and stretched away for a 4 length victory.

Jigeum I Sungan will now be prepared for the final leg of the 2012 Triple Crown, the Minister’s Cup at Seoul next month, when he will likely meet Gyeongbudaero, who ran second to Dangdae Bulpae today, as well as Oaks winner Rising Glory.

*There was a notable debut at Busan today. Two year old gelding My Key (Macho Uno) is a half-brother of American champion Game On Dude. He is one of two foals to be delivered by their dam Worldly Pleasure during her time at Nokwon Farm on Jeju Island before she was sold to Japan’s Shadai Operation just prior to Game On Dude’s second place in the Breeders’ Cup Classic last year.

My Key’s debut today was low-key. He finished was 5th of 12 over 5 furlongs in the opening race at Busan

Rising Glory Gets The Glory In Korean Oaks

Rising Glory overcame the stubborn challenge of Cheoneun to win the 2012 Korean Oaks at Busan Race Park this afternoon.

Cheoneun had led right from the start of the fillies’ Classic and, on the rail in the home straight, looked to have enough left in the tank to lead from gate-to-wire.

However, Rising Glory had always been handily placed and, under Jo Sung Gon, once she got her run, she hunted down Cheoneun, hitting the front with fifty metres remaining and stretching away for victory by just under two lengths.

Grand Teukgeup, with South African jockey Gerrit Schlechter on board finished third but there was frustration for Japanese rider Joe Fujii. Riding 4/1 chance Nuriui Bit for Australian trainer Peter Wolsley, he was taken out of the race on the final corner by out of control 90/1 shot Last Love. Dragged right over to the stands rail, by the time Nuriui Bit was going in a straight line again, the race was long gone.

Over Power, who punters sent off as the slight pre-race favourite, finished in fifth place under Narazaki Kosuke.

As for the winner, Rising Glory, sent off fourth in the betting at 6/1, was taking part in her first Classic of the season having been kept away from the KRA Cup Mile and the Derby. In winning today, she was recorded her fourth career victory from nine starts. Her jockey, Jo Sung Gon celebrated in his usual less than understated way as they crossed the line. Jo was recording his seventh Korean Group race win although five of the previous six had come on one horse, Dangdae Bulpae.

Rising Glory is the third Korean Classic winner for her sire Menifee from his two crops that have come of age He sired last year’s Oaks winner Useung Touch, while Gyeongbudaero took the KRA Cup Mile earlier this. So far, neither of those have gone on achieve true greatness with both being hampered by injuries.

Whether Rising Glory comes to Seoul in October for the Minister’s Cup, the final leg of the Korean Triple Crown, will be the big question for her connections over the coming weeks. For now though, she is the champion filly of her generation.

Korean Oaks (KOR.GII) – Busan Race Park – 1800M – August 26, 2012

1. Rising Glory (KOR) [Menifee – Straight Cash (Straight Man)] – Jo Sung Gon
2. Cheoneun (KOR) [Forest Camp – Naha (Silver Buck)] – Oh Kyoung Hoan
3. Grand Teukgeup (KOR) [Menifee – Saratoga Campaign (Mt. Livermore)] – Gerrit Schlechter

Distances: 1.75 lengths/2 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Money Queen 5. Over Power 6. Dolpung Jilju 7. Gumpo Yeowang 8. Naryusya 9. Choego Yeosin 10. Joiner Peace 11. Sing A 12. Last Love 13 Powerful Miss G 14. Nuriui Bit

Dangdae Bulpae Stuns Smarty Moonhak, Tough Win in Busan Metropolitan

Dangdae Bulpae (Biwa Shinseiki), the two-time President’s Cup winner, stunned favourites Smarty Moonhak (Smarty Jones) and Tough Win (Yonaguska), to win the Busan Metropolitan City Mayor’s Cup on a hot and humid night under the floodlights at Busan Race Park this evening.

Smarty Moonhak ran second but Tough Win was a disappointing fourth.

Busan Metropolitan City Mayor’s Cup (K.G3) – Busan Race Park – 2000M – July 22, 2012

1. Dangdae Bulpae (KOR) [Biwa Shinseiki – Indeed My Dear (Alydeed)] – Jo Sung Gon – 9.7, 1.7
2. Smarty Moonhak (USA) [Smarty Jones – Madeira M’Dear (Black Tie Affair)] – Park Tae Jong – 1.1
3. Jumong (USA) [Johar – Foreign Aid (Danzig)] – Ham Wan Sik – 5.1

Distances: 2 lengths / 0.5 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Tough Win (USA) 5. Smoking Gun (USA) 6. Jeonseong Sidae (AUS) 7. Sangseung Geotap (USA) 8. Yeonseung Daero (KOR) 9. Lion Santa (USA) 10. Cheonjidolpung (USA) 11. Adam One (USA) PU. Ghost Whisper (KOR)

Punters sent off Smarty Moonhak as the 1/2 favourite with Tough Win second in the betting market at 3/1 against. Dangdae Bulpae was the next fancied at 9/1.

It was Dangdae Bulpae who was quickest out of the gate, jockey Jo Sung Gon harrying him over to the rail and into the lead heading into the first corner. Smarty Moonhak went with him. A year ago it was Tough Win who followed Dangdae Bulpae into the corner and the two began racing each other far too early and ended up taking themselves out of the race.

This time they settled into a much more sensible – bordering on the slow – pace as they entered the back straight. It was then that things got interesting. As expected, Cho Kyoung Ho asked Tough Win to improve his position and as he did so, everyone else tried too. Entering the home straight, Dangdae Bulpae still had the lead with Smarty Moonhak on the rail and Tough Win coming down the centre.

In the penultimate furlong Cho on Tough Win made his move and looked set to go past everyone. On the rail, Park Tae Jong did likewise on Smarty Moonhak. But Dangdae Bulpae was not for catching. Tough Win’s challenge stalled in the final furlong and he couldn’t improve his position while Smarty Moonhak, while faster than the winner just couldn’t make up the ground, Jumong finishing quickly to split the two favourites.

Jo Sung Gon reacts as Dangdae Bulpae crosses the finish line (Pic: Newsis)

It was a 15th career win for five-year old Korean bred Dangdae Bulpae, and his 7th Stakes victory, a Korean record. While everyone knew he could beat the best Korean bred horses, today for the first time, he beat the imported ones too. Dangdae Bulpae is now a true champion.

Tough Win doesn’t like Busan. He won narrowly two years ago and was badly beaten last year. How much his bleeding attack in his last outing took of him is still unclear but he wasn’t at his best today.

Then there is Smarty Moonhak. He ran well but, when chased after by his jockey for the first time in his career, he couldn’t quite do it. He was well placed in the home straight but surprisingly was found wanting. He will come back to Seoul and will be aimed at the season ending Grand Prix.

So is Smarty Moonhak not as good as we thought or is Dangdae Bulpae better than we thought? Maybe both but a few months ago, most observers had Smarty Moonhak gradually improving throughout the year before winning the Grand Prix in December.

He is ahead of schedule in that regard and is only three years old which in Korea, unlike in other parts of the world where the breeding shed is more important than the racecourse, is still very young. He has a long career ahead of him. With that in mind it is better for us, as fans of Korean racing to celebrate a great performance by an excellent Korean bred horse, Dangdae Bulpae.

Weekend Round-Up: Abe, Kosuke, Schlechter In-Form at Busan

Foreign Jockeys Win Five Of Six

It wasn’t a good Sunday for the local Jockeys’ Union in Busan. While apprentice rider Jeong Dong Cheol did manage to win race 2, he was the only Korean rider to score on the six-race card at the south-coast track as the visiting jockeys continued to show how things are done.

Winners: Yukio Abe

Yukio Abe, Narazaki Kosuke and Gerrit Schlechter had all ridden winners on Friday and it was the Japanese pair who led the way again today, each landing a double.

Abe guided one-time Korean Derby hopeful Predict (The Groom Is Red) to a five-length win in race 3 before landing the afternoon’s feature race on Champion Belt (Exploit).

Winners: Narazaki Kosuke

Kosuke meanwhile bookended the card with wins in race 1 on US filly Damyang Jukbuin (Harlan’s Holiday) and in race 6 on hot favourite Tamna Hwangje (Montbrook).

As for Schlechter, the South African came very close to pulling off a shock in the feature race on Peter Wolsley’s Khaosan (Sundaw Well), however, Champion Belt just had enough in him to hold off the ever-game seven-year old by a nose. Schlechter was not to be denied in race 4 though, partnering Jeoldae Jijon (Dixieland Band) to a similarly narrow win.

Although all three are relative newcomers to the track, Abe, Kosuke and Schlechter now make up three of the top four riders at Busan with Jo Sung Gon the only local able to compete with them. Wherther this inspires the local riders or simply fosters resentment remains to be seen. One thing that is for sure though, is that the visitors are getting the best rides because connections believe they are far more likely to help their horse win than the locals.

Winner: Gerrit Schlechter

How different to Seoul where Makoto Noda, who has been plugging away manfully for nearly a year now with little success, must look at his countrymen down south with something approaching envy. On the plus side, his license keeps on getting renewed, on the minus side, that may be because he doesn’t win very much. At least he gets plenty of rides. Some of the visitors, such as young JRA jockey Sho Ueno who went back to Japan last week, don’t even get that. Today, Noda was on plenty of horses but for the most part, they were slow horses.

Winner: Prime Galloper

Not slow was Prime Galloper (Strodes Creek), winner of the Sports Kyeonghyang Cup, Seoul’s Sunday feature race. Under veteran jockey Park Tae Jong, the four-year old scored a narrow win over Geuma Champ (Vicar) and Andy’s Runner (The Groom Is Red). It was his seventh win from eighteen career starts.

Saturday at Seoul saw feature race favourite Jumong (Johar) struggle under top weight for the second consecutive start. This time he went down to a four-length defeat at the hands of fellow US import Sing Sing Cat (D’Wildcat).

Stakes action returns to Seoul next Sunday in the shape of the Sports Chosun Cup. We also have potential appearances at Seoul by Tough Win and at Busan by Mister Park – the two top-rated horses on the peninsula.

Champion Jockey Over The Moon Again

Moon Se Young Wins Seoul Jockey Championship While Jo Sung Gon is the Stand-Out Winner at Busan

Moon Se Young has regained the title of Champion jockey at Seoul Race Park. The 31 year-old took the honour in 2008 and looked set to dominate for the forseeable future but a fall in 2009 and a lengthy suspension towards the end of last season saw him lose out until now. Even this time, injury saw him miss the final week of the season, allowing nearest – and only rival, Cho Kyoung Ho to close the gap at the top to just five wins.

Champion again: Moon Se Young

With Jo In Kwen in third place in only his third full season, the weighing room at Seoul is becoming ever more competitive. Kim Hae Sun becomes the first female rider to finish the season in the top ten and looks set to become go on to become a top-tier jockey.

Just outside the top ten, in eleventh place, was Jang Chu Yeol, who would surely have finished higher had he not recently spent six weeks in the USA where he became the first Korean-based jockey to ride a winner. He’ll be one to watch next year.

Also to watch will be Seo Seung Un who landed 12 wins in his first three months as a licensed jockey – a record. While Moon Se Young is on top at the moment, the next few seasons look sure to see a real changing of the guard in the winners’ circle.

Seoul Racecourse Jockey Championship 2011

1. Moon Se Young – 105
2. Cho Kyoung Ho – 100
3. Jo In Kwen – 70
4. Park Tae Jong – 68
5. Choi Bum Hyun – 61
6. Jung Ki Yong – 48
7. Oh Kyoung Hoan – 45
8. Moon Jung Kyun – 45
9. Shin Hyoung Chul – 38
10. Kim Hae Sun – 29

While the future looks very bright at Seoul, it’s difficult to say the same for Busan where the young jockeys coming through do not look to be of the same calibre. However, that takes nothing away from champion Jo Sung Gon who breezed to the title. Jo is head and shoulders above any other Korean rider at Busan although if the combined winners this year of Toshio Uchida (58) and his replacement Nathan Stanley (17) are taken into account, the foreigners ran him close (more on the foreign riders next week).

Jo Sung Gon was the runaway winner of the Busan Jockey Title

Life at Busan is pretty comfortable for him but Jo has previously indicated a desire to come to Seoul where he would face more competition for the big rides. An exchange program was mooted earlier this year and Cho Kyoung Ho was reportedly interested in going in the other direction. Nothing came of it but it is something that looks likely to be revisited in 2012.

Behind him Chae Gyu Jun had a solid season which included two big Stakes wins at Seoul while Kim Dong Young had a breakout year in third. You Hyun Myung’s season was disrupted by injury but he still ended in fourth, while fifth placed Park Geum Man ended the year reunited with former boss Peter Wolsley and if this continues in 2012, he may well have a better year:

Busan Racecourse Jockey Championship 2011

1. Jo Sung Gon – 84
2. Chae Gyu Jun – 66
3. Kim Dong Young – 55
4. You Hyun Myung – 49
5. Park Geum Man – 47
6. Choi Si Dae – 44
7. Lim Sung Sil – 28
8. Akane Yamamoto – 28
9. Jo Chang Wook – 27
10. Jo Chan Hoon – 22

The pony colony on Jeju Island saw the closest race of the three tracks and ultimately it was veteran rider Kim Yong Seob who came out on top:

Jeju Racecourse Jockey Championship 2011

1. Kim Yong Seob – 63
2. Jang Woo Sung – 60
3. Jeon Hyun Joon – 55
4. Hwang Tae Sun – 49
5. Moon Jung Ho – 45

Weekend Preview

Dongbanui Gangja / Grand First / Champion Belt

We’re just a week away from the Grand Prix, the climax of the Korean racing season, but there’s still

Double Grand Prix Winner: Dongbanui Gangja goes on Saturday

plenty going on across the peninsula this weekend.

Seoul has class 1 handicap headlining on both Saturday and Sunday. Double Grand Prix winner Dongbanui Gangja (Broken Vow) misses this year’s event but he’ll be in action in Saturday’s feature. While there are a number of decent, if less than intimidating, horses up against him, the thing that is most likely to stop the former Champion adding to his eighteen career victories is the weight – he’ll be carrying six kilos more than any other horse in the race. Sunday sees three-year old filly Grand First (Salt Lake) making her first appearance at the highest level as she takes on a beatable looking field in the feature race.

Down at Busan, US five-year old Purely Spontaneus (Pure Precision) makes just his third atrt of 2011 in the feature – he’s one of twelve rides for Akane Yamamoto over the weekend as she looks to build on her five wins a week ago. The now nine-year old Golding (Gold Alert) is one of just seven rivals.

However, Busan’s most intriguing contest of the weekend is on Sunday afternoon. Aussie jockey Nathan Stanley gets the nod to ride Champion Belt (Exploit) who many predict will go on to be the stand-out horse of his year-group (which so far has been pretty shoddy) in the feature race. To get on the favourite, however, Stanley has had to get off Khaosan (Sunday Well) on who he won the Busan Owners’ Stakes and finished fourth in the President’s Cup. In his absence, trainer Peter Wolsley has managed to secure the services of champion jockey Jo Sung Gon to ride the tough as nails Khaosan. Neither rider will be in a good mood if they lose this one.

Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday December 2

Busan Race Park: 10 races from 12:00 to 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 10 races from 13:00 to 17:30

Saturday December 3

Seoul Race Park: 12 races from 11:10 to 17:30
Jeju Race Park: 10 races from 12:30 to 17:50

Sunday December 4

Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:10 to 18:00
Busan Race Park: 7 races from 12:30 to 17:00

December can be cold but beautiful at Seoul Race Park