Kanichiro Fujii

Joe Fujii Ton-Up At Busan

Joe Fujii became just the third ever foreign rider to reach 100 winners in Korea as he completed a double at Busan Racecourse this afternoon.

100-up : Joe Fujii

100-up : Joe Fujii

The Japanese jockey’s milestone came in race 11 as he partnered 4/1 chance Heba (Peace Rules) to victory.

That win – his second of the day – enabled Fujii to join his fellow countrymen Ikuyasu Kurakane and Toshio Uchida as century-getters in Korea.

His 100 includes some of Korea’s biggest races. He won the Grand Prix Stakes on Gamdonguibada last year and followed up with a Korean Derby and Korean Oaks double on Speedy First in 2013.

Joe – “Kanichiro” – Fujii has never ridden in his homeland of Japan, having travelled to Australia as a teenager to train as a jockey.

He narrowly missed out in the JRA exam this year and Japan’s loss is Korea’s gain as he continues to be the most in-demand jockey at Busan.

A highly professional rider, Fujii is also a highly likeable character who is a real student of horse racing.

One of very few foreign riders to have studied racing in Korea in detail before making the move here, he’s managed to not only become number 1 to Korea’s top trainer Kim Young Kwan, but also to achieve the almost impossible – to be liked by the local jockeys (although of course they would still love to see him depart).

His diligence has been reaping rewards with winners ever since he arrived and there’s no sign of it stopping.

Weekend Review: Washouts & Winners

The monsoon season finally arrived in Seoul with a vengeance on Friday evening. The rain was so hard that Gyongmaman struggled to keep his red wine dry. It all proved too much for Seoul Race Park’s drainage system and with no let-up on Saturday morning, the decision was made to call off the day’s racing.

Uh oh: The Seoul track was designed to cope with the monsoon but it couldn’t cope on Saturday (Pic: Ilgan Sports)

The monsoon season happens every year and racing continues even during the most extreme downpours, however, this time the 15 hour deluge was overwhelming and the track was deemed unsafe to race.

The rain stopped mid-afternoon Saturday and Sunday was a glorious day at both Seoul and Busan. The pick of the action was on the South Coast and the foreign jockey contingent was in fine form. South African Gerrit Schlechter got things rolling with a win on Peter Wolsley’s promising filly Sangseungdaecheong (Ft. Stockton) in race 1.

Winners: Yukio Abe

Yukio Abe took race 2 on US import Kellan (Cape Town) before he and fellow Japanese rider Narazaki Kosuke took the honours in the two feature races. Kosuke rode hot favourite Tamna Hwangje (Montbrook) to a comfortable six-length victory in race 5 before Abe and five-year-old Saeroun Taeyang (Volponi) upset KRA Cup Mile winner Gyeongbudaero in the finale.

With Joe Fujii coming in second to Abe twice today, the foreigners continue to do well down in Gyeongnam

* Up at Seoul, the feature race went to favourite Prime Galloper (Strodes Creek), with a dominant 8 length win. It was a fourth straight victory for the four-year old who, if he continues his current form, could find himself competing for some very big prizes later in the season.

Fujii Debuts With A Win

Kosuke, Schlechter Triumph Too

Japanese jockey Kanichiro Fujii debuted at Busan today and landed a winner with his very first ride – a four length victory on Areumdaun Sinhwa (Volponi) in race 7:

Fujii’s fellow countryman Narazaki Kosuke was also amongst the winners, taking race 5 on Raon Birdie (Al Naba), was was South African Gerrit Schlechter who rode the Peter Wolsley trained gelding Cheongchun Bulpae (Milwaukee Brew) to a very comfortable win in race 8.

Saturday June 30

Seoul Race Park: 12 races from 11:00 to 17:40
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 12:20 to 17:00

Sunday July 1

Seoul Race Park: 10 races from 11:00 to 17:40
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:15 to 16:45

Japanese Jockey Joe Fujii Mounts-Up At Busan

There’s another new Japanese jockey on the South Coast. Kanichiro Fujii will have his first rides at Busan Race Park this coming weekend.

Kanichiro “Joe” Fujii debuts at Busan this weekend

Fujii – who goes by Joe – was born in Nara, Japan but went to Australia at the age of 15 to train as a jockey. He debuted in 2001 and spent the next five years riding mainly in New South Wales, finishing 2nd in the State’s Apprentice Jockey race in 2006.

In 2007, Fujii spent nine months in Singapore where he won the Listed Chairman’s Trophy and rode third-placed finisher Jade in the Group 1 Emirates Singapore Derby.

After Singapore, Fujii went to Europe where he rode work in France for, amongst others, Criquitte Head before returning to Australia in 2008.

In 2009 he went to the USA and rode work at Belmont Park before relocating once more to Australia, this time to Queensland where he has been riding until recently. To date, he has ridden just shy of 300 winners.

Fujii is married and became a father for the first time earlier this month.

Riding on an initial four-month license and joins fellow Japanese riders Narazaki Kosuke and Yukio Abe as well as South African Gerrit Schlechter in making up the foreign jockey contingent at Busan. He will make his racing debut this Friday in race 7.

He told Korea Racing that he became interested in riding in Korea after speaking with Japanese riders Nozomu Tomizawa, Yoshi Aoki, Hiro Hamada and Akane Yamamoto – all of whom rode in Korea and have strong Australian connections, as well as Aussie jockey Garry Baker who rode at Busan from 2005 until 2007.