Apprentice Kim Deok Hyeon Wins On First Day

Not a bad start to his career for apprentice Kim Deok Hyeon. He made his debut on at Seoul Racecourse on Saturday with two rides and in the second of those, coolly produced 12/1 chance Samjung Tapit at the perfect moment to snatch victory.

Kim is one of three new apprentice jockeys at Seoul this year. The other two, Kim Hyo Jeong and Lee Dong Jin debuted last week and are awaiting their first successes.

Four Foreign Jockeys Newly Licensed In Korea

Four foreign jockeys have recently been licensed in Korea. Japan’s Yonekura Satoshi began riding at Busan on Friday and is about to be joined on the south-coast by Italian Paolo Aragoni. Meanwhile at Seoul, India’s Imran Chisty and Australian Patrick Keane have arrived in the capital and are set to start as soon as possible.


Paolo Aragoni is set to join Busan (Pic: Supplied by jockey)

35-year-old Paolo Aragoni debuted in Italy in 1997 and has ridden seven Group 3 and numerous Listed race winners in his home country among more than 700 career winners overall. His riding weight is 53kg.

Yonekura Satoshi has been riding in Japan’s NAR since 1994, most recently based at Kanazawa Racecourse. The 40-year-old jockey has partnered over 1300 winners throughout his career and has a riding weight of 51kg.

Imran Chisty turned professional in 1997. The 39-year-old Indian rider has mainly been at the Bangalore Turf Club where over the past three years he has 216 winners while achieving a Moon Se Young-esque quinella strike-rate of 33%.He can ride at 50kg.

The youngest of the newcomers is up and coming Australian jockey Patrick Keane. Based in Victoria, 23-year-old Kean has a quinella strike rate of 15.3% over the last three years on the ultra-competitive circuit there.

Aragoni and Satoshi join Makoto Okabe, Ikuyasu Kurakane and Pasquale Borelli at Busan taking the foreign jockey contingent on the south-coast up to five following Nozi Tomizawa’s departure last month.  Chisty and Kean’s addition at Seoul mean there are now four foreign jockeys in the capital, Djordje Perovic and Dean Holland being the others.

Silk Chasing! Owners Get Their Own Colours From April

Korean races are going to start to look rather different from April with the long-standing tradition in the country of jockeys wearing their own silks being phased out as Owners finally get to see their horses run in colours of their choosing.


Park Tae Jong is approaching 2000 career wins. Will he ride the milestone one in the same colours he’s ridden all the others? (Pic: Ross Holburt)


On the one hand, jockeys having their own colours makes Korean racing very accessible and easy to pick up. Punters have little difficulty picking out the mount of Moon Se Young, Park Tae Jong or Djordje Perovic because they are always wearing the same thing. Toshio Uchida built his reputation in the NAR (another jurisdiction that still uses jockey colours) in Japan as “Mr. Pink” and continued it in Korea.

On the other hand, as Korea seeks to slowly come in line with other racing jurisdictions, it seems a natural progression. While owners in the country are some of the most fortunate in the world – prize money and subsidies are generous to the extent that it is almost difficult to lose money as an owner – racehorse ownership still isn’t seen as something to mention in polite society. Win pictures are only produced after Stakes races. After all, what’s the point of posing with a jockey wearing his own silks and not yours? Maybe this will change.

Another plus to the change is that many of the current jockey silks are brazenly copied from well-known colours overseas. That was fine when nobody else was watching racing here but that is changing too.

For punters’ convenience, owners will only get to select a jacket design as the caps will still correspond to gate number. As further help for viewers, an on-screen tracking system, called “K-Track” has also been recently launched at Seoul and if successful, will be extended to Busan within the next year.

Except for new owners it isn’t compulsory and as of now, seventeen owners at Seoul and ten at Busan have selected colours. They include foreign owners Joe Dallao, Barry Irwin and the Yoshidas. It’s expected that as more see it in action, more will register their own. At Busan on Friday, two owners with their own colours have horses running.

Se Young Storms Back At Seoul / Cinderella Man Steps Up At Busan

The fun’s over for the Seoul Jockey colony. There have been plenty of wins to go around so far this year but the main man was back this weekend. And Moon Se Young promptly asserted his dominance riding eight winners across the weekend.

And well he might smile. Moon Se Young was back and in-form this weekend (Pic: Hiromi Kobayashi)

And well he might smile. Moon Se Young was back and in-form this weekend (Pic: Hiromi Kobayashi)

Last year’s champion jockey picked up a 6-meeting ban during the final weekend of 2014 giving him a pleasant few weeks off on what should have been the coldest race-days of the winter. As it transpired, it wasn’t that cold but in his return to race riding this weekend, Moon was red-hot.

To the surprise of no-one, he was in the winner’s circle after his first ride back on Saturday and he would return there a further seven times across the weekend – two more on Saturday followed five on Sunday. He added three 2nd places and two 3rds and is remarkably already in 3rd place in the 2015 Jockey Championship. Park Tae Jong, racing’s “President”, will know its odds-on Moon Se Young will have overtaken him at the top by the end of next weekend.

At Busan, the performance of the day came from Cinderella Man. The Peter Wolsley trained 4-year-old made his class 1 debut in the feature handicap. Under Jo Sung Gon, he led home last year’s Derby winner Queen’s Blade and solid handicapper My Key for victory by just under three lengths.

Cinderella Man (Southern Image) now has seven wins from ten career starts and looks a force to be reckoned with. Aussie trainer Wolsley has built up another strong stable this year and already sits in third place in the Trainer Championship. Another promising one of his, the (poorly-spelled, in an orthographical rather than a having a rest on the farm way) Diferent Dimension (Into Mischief) was an easy winner on Friday.

Also on the foreign training front, Bart Rice saddled his first winner of the year on Friday, with his Aussie-bred filly Ace Sinhwa (Onemorenomore) scoring on her racing debut.

As for the foreign jockeys, both Ikuyasu Kurakane at Seoul and Joe Fujii at Busan were among the winners on Sunday.

Back at Seoul, the feature race of the weekend was won by Strong Road (A.P.Warrior) who, just like Cinderella Man at Busan stepped up to class 1 for the first time and duly registered his 7th win from 10 career starts so far.

200-Up Kurakane Heads High Performing Visitors

Ikuyasu Kurakane reached a major milestone over the weekend, when he became the first foreign jockey to ride 200 winners in Korea.

200 winners: Ikuyasu Kurakane (Pic: Ross Holburt)

200 winners: Ikuyasu Kurakane (Pic: Ross Holburt)

His two victories across the weekend, on Big Show on Saturday and Ms. Celtic Senior on Sunday, took the Japanese rider to 201 victories from 1711 rides across two stints riding on the peninsula.

Now 38, Kurakane originally came to Korea in 2007 and spent a successful 18 months riding at Seoul and Busan. During this period he won what remains his only Stakes race to date, the 2007 Nonghyup Trophy on Pilseung Giwon.

Kurakane returned to Seoul in April last year and quickly established himself as among the track’s top riders.

An exceptionally hard-worker in the mornings, he doesn’t get the biggest rides, but unlike many foreign jockeys here before him, he does get the numbers and when on a fancied horse, he generally converts it into the win. He currently lies 3rd in the 2014 Championship

His feat is made all the more impressive in that the vast majority of his winners have come at Seoul, a track where he is the only foreign jockey to have enjoyed even moderate success. At Busan, it is a different story although still by means easy for the visitors.

Kurakane’s license has been extended by 6-months, as have those of Busan-based trio Darryll Holland, Joe Fujii and Masa Tanaka.

Royal Ascot winning rider Holland is the KRA’s marquee jockey and after overcoming a challenging first few months, he’s now reaping he benefits, taking out another feature race at Busan on Sunday and is currently in 2nd place in the Busan Championship.

Grand Prix Stakes, Korean Derby and Oaks winner Fujii is just two places back. Tanaka too is a regular visitor to the winner’s circle. The “foreign jockey quinella” is now a very popular bet among punters.

In the barn at Busan things are going well too. After his 2nd place finish last year, Peter Wolsley currently leads the 2014 Trainers’ Championship in numbers of winners – ahead of even the Kim Young Kwan machine. Meanwhile, South African Bart Rice has made an impressive start with 5 of his 23 runners to date returning victorious.

Korea is still a very difficult place for foreign jockeys to ride as the recent experiences of Jerome Lermyte and Fausto Durso show, making the achievements of the likes of Kurakane even more notable.

Overseas Jockeys in Korea All-Time Top Ten

1. Ikuyasu Kurakane (Japan) – 201*
2. Toshio Uchida (Japan) – 138
3. Kanichiro Fujii (Japan) – 116*
4. Garry Baker (Australia) – 78
5. Narazaki Kosuke (Japan) – 68
6. Eiki Nishimura (Japan) – 60
7. Hitomi Miyashita (Japan) – 56
8. Darryll Holland (United Kingdom) – 52*
9. Martin Wepner (South Africa) – 49
10. Nozomu Tomizawa (Japan) – 48

* Still riding in Korea

Ikuyasu Kurakane & Lee Chan Ho Ride High At Seoul

Lee Chan Ho shot to the top of his graduating class with a remarkable display of riding at Seoul Race Park this past weekend.

Winning: Lee Chan Ho

Winning: Lee Chan Ho

The 21-year-old apprentice, who debuted in June rode 4 winners on Saturday and added another on Sunday for a total of 5 wins from 11 rides.

He also managed 2 third-place finishes on Sunday.

Lee’s exploits take him to 10 winners from 79 rides in his short career so far and see him lose one of the 4-kilos of weight allowance that brand new apprentices are able to claim.

Still claiming the full amount are the three others who qualified with Lee. However, Kim Tea Hun, Song Jae Chul and Jo Han Beol are all also off the mark and it looks like we are seeing another good crop of young jockeys as the Seoul Jockey Academy continues to excel.

Another, altogether more experienced jockey, is also in a rich vein of form. Japan’s Ikuyasu Kurakane returned to Korea for a second spell earlier this year and a Sunday afternoon treble sees the 37-year old rise to 6th in the Jockey Championship with 37 winners.

Fellow Japanese rider Joe Fujii may be winning the big ones at Busan, but the workaholic Ikuyasu is bringing in the numbers at Seoul

Eleven Jockeys Go Free At Seoul

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 going freelance

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.

Korean Apprentices Ride Winners In Australia

Jung Dong Cheol and Yoo Gwang Hee Win in Queensland

After Seo Seung Un’s recent triumphs in the USA, it was the turn of two more young Korean jockeys to open their accounts overseas today as Jung Dong Cheol and Yoo Gwang Hee both rode their first winners in Australia.

Jung Dong Cheol (left) and Yoo Gwang Hee (centre) both rode winners in Australia on Saturday (KRA).

The two first year apprentices, who are based at Busan Racecourse, both debuted in August last year and are in Australia as part of their ongoing training. Between them they won three of the five races on Saturday’s card at Longreach Racecourse, a small track, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, in Central Queensland.

Yoo got things started in race 3 taking a half-length victory on 11/1 chance Vanguard (Chateau Istana) for trainer Charlie Prow. A race later he completed his double, riding Golden Portrait (Perugino), a 9/2 shot, to a two length win over Jung who grabbed second on 25/1 outsider Heza Flashman (Iglesia).

Jung didn’t have to wait too long to get in the winner’s circle himself, claiming the fifth and final race on Sistabella (Hidden Dragon) by just under half a length.

Since debuting at Busan last year, Jung has ridden 16 winners from 235 rides while Yoo has triumphed 7 times from 188.

h/t @mmsnippets

Seo Seung Un Headed For Asian Young Guns Challenge

Apprentice jockey Seo Seung Un has had quite the career so far. He debuted in August last year – riding two winners on his first weekend – and went on to ride 25 more until he went to the USA two months ago where he rode three more winners.

Seo Seung Un returns after his 25th winner – he’ll be off to Macau in August for the Asian Young Guns Challenge

Now back in Korea, Seo will soon be on his travels again as he becomes the first Korean jockey to participate in the annual “Asian Young Guns Challenge” which will be held in Macau on August 4.

Now in its fourth year, the challenge brings together some of the most promising apprentice jockeys from the Asia-Pacific region (and South Africa) to ride in a three-race series.

The event was hosted by the Victoria Racing Club at Flemington in Melbourne in 2009 and 2011 and by the Singapore Turf Club at Kranji in 2010.

Jockeys taking part this year are:

Ng Ka Chun (Hong Kong)
Taichi Nishimura (Japan)
Shinsuke Ishikawa (Japan)
Seo Seung Un (Korea)
Yazid Kamal (Malaysia)
Zawari Razali (Singapore)
Keagan De Melo (South Africa)
Jake Noonan (Australia)
Jason Collett (New Zealand)

They will be joined by a local representative from Macau for the three races, two of which will be on turf and one on sand. KRA Jockey Academy Instructor Robert Moore will be accompanying Seo on the trip.

More info is at the Macau Jockey Club website

New Jockeys Beat The Odds

Ahn Hyo Ri, Park Hyun Woo, Kim Hyun Joong All Win

Two apprentice jockeys scored their first ever career winners in the unlikeliest of circumstances at Seoul this past Saturday.

Park Hyun Woo and Ahn Hyo Ri demonstrate traditional awkward Korean poses after their debut wins at Seoul (Pic: Ilgan Sports)

Park Hyun Woo and Ahn Hyo Ri both graduated from the KRA Jockey Academy this year and debuted last month.

Neither had won on from their few rides to date coming into last weekend but that changed as first Park and then later Ahn both rode long priced winners.

Race 2 saw Park ride 280/1 chance Misojanchi to a half-length victory, overtaking champion jockey Moon Se Young on Jeilgosu in the final furlong. It was the longest priced winner at Seoul for some years and an encouraging performance in the saddle from Park who looked very much at home in the finish.

Late on in the afternoon, it was Ahn’s turn. Her win came in race 8 on 53/1 chance Time Zone. Always well-placed, the pair overtook early pacesetter Vicar Summit in the final furlong and went on to record a relatively comfortable length and a half victory.

Winner at Busan: Kim Hyun Joong (Pic: Ilgan Sports)

Down at Busan another new apprentice was also riding a long-priced winner last weekend. Kim Hyun Joong, who debuted at the same time as Ahn and Park, got his second career victory on Sunday.

And it was an impressive performance as, on 48/1 Busan Prince, he beat out South African rider Gerrit Schlechter riding odds-on favourite Gwangsok Engine by a nose in a photo finish.

It’s early days but it seems we have another talented crop of young apprentices. With young jockeys these days being given much more of an opportunity to prove themselves than they once were – owners and trainers knowing that they’ve been better trained than their predecessors – no doubt there will be plenty more visits to the winner’s circle for all of them