Narazaki Kosuke

Japan’s Narazaki Kosuke Checks Out Of Korea

Narazaki Kosuke has returned to Japan. The 31-year old jockey had his last rides in Korea over the weekend, finishing 2nd on his final mount in Sunday’s feature race at Busan.

Going home: Narazaki Kosuke

Going home: Narazaki Kosuke

Kosuke is returning in order to ride at the final meeting of his former home track of Fujiyama in Hiroshima which is closing. Kosuke will then relocate full-time to Ohi Racecourse in Tokyo.

During his just over one year at Busan, Kosuke rode 68 winners from 505 rides and had a quinella strike-rate of 25%. He finished 5th in the Busan Jockey Championship last year and was lying in 2nd this.

Although he didn’t win any Stakes races, he did partner Nobel Pokpung to 2nd place in the 2012 Korean Derby at Seoul Race Park and won numerous class 1 events at Busan. Among foreign jockeys, only his fellow Japanese rider Toshio Uchida and Australian Gary Baker have ridden more winners in Korea.

Kosuke’s departure leaves Joe Fujii and Darryll Holland as the only 2 foreign jockeys at Busan although another newcomer is expected to start from April. Yukio Abe remains the only foreign jockey at Seoul although a license has been issued for another to start soon.

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Fujii Back In-Form At Busan

Joe Fujii won the Grand Prix Stakes, Korea’s most prestigious race on Gamdonguibada at Seoul on December 9th, becoming the first foreign rider to do so. However, it had been a quiet start to 2013 for the Japanese jockey.

Winning Again - Joe Fujii

Winning Again – Joe Fujii

After the Grand Prix, he had to sit out the remainder of the season and the start of this after picking up an 8-meeting ban after his mount was slow into stride in a race at Busan (Fujii believed his horse to be injured).

Things changed this past Sunday though as Fujii landed a treble, guiding Raon Bally, Raon Boss and Myeongun Jewang to victory. Fujii’s compatriot Narazaki Kosuke was also among the winners, keeping him in 2nd place in the Busan Jockey Championship.

Fujii now has 34 wins from 236 rides at Busan while Kosuke has 62 from 462. A new foreign jockey arrives in Korea this week – a big name from Europe.

All three of Fujii’s winners were for Busan’s leading trainer Kim Young Kwan. Kim also trains Gamdonguibada and the champion filly is tentatively scheduled to make her 2013 debut at Busan next Sunday. Also coming up on Sunday, on Busan’s first really big race day of the year, is the Busan Ilbo Cup. While Dangdae Bulpae is set to be the overwhelming favourite, trainer Kim has two runners likely to start and Fujii could be in the frame to ride one of them.

Weekend Preview: 2012 K-Triple Crown Concludes With Minister’s Cup

Cup Mile, Derby And Oaks Winners Set To Clash

Even though there are only two tracks, it’s not easy to win a Triple Crown in Korea and there isn’t one on the line as a full field of fourteen line-up for the final three-year old Classic of the season, the Minister’s Cup at Seoul Racecourse this Sunday.

Jigeum I Sungan in the Korean Derby winner’s circle

The winners of all three Classics run so far this year will be there. Gyeongbudaero, who won the KRA Cup Mile (the Korean 2000 Guineas) way back in April will be joined in the starting gate by Derby winner Jigeum I Sungan and Oaks victress Rising Glory. However, these three will be up against a number of new challengers who weren’t ready for the early season classics but have been coming into form since.

It is a big weekend of racing on the peninsula with Seoul playing host on Saturday to the Singapore Turf Club Trophy.

Here is a full run down of the runners and riders for Sunday’s big race, along with pedigrees and race records (Starts/1st/2nd/3rd):

Minister of FAFF Stakes (KOR G2) – Seoul Race Park – 2000M – Sunday October 14, 2012, 16:15

1. Chowon Yeoje [Forest Camp – Navigation (Big Sur)] (11/3/3/3) – Lee Sang Hyeok (Seoul)
One of only two fillies in the race, she didn’t start showing her quality until this summer and finished second to Yeouiju in the Donga Ilbo Stakes three weeks ago. Will need to find plenty more to win here but the extra furlong could suit.

2. Wonderful Namhae [Vicar – Make That Call (Glow)] (12/7/1/0) – Narazaki Kosuke (Busan)
BOunced back from a disappointing ninth in the Cup Mile to have a good summer. Finished ahead of some good horses when running second in a class 1 handicap last time out.

3. Gumanseok [Vicar – Perfect Storm (Didyme)] (7/3/3/1) – Park Tae Jong (Seoul)
Broke his maiden in April and lightly raced since. Likely to be one of the outsiders but has never finished out of the placings and appears to be improving with each run.

4. Myeongun Jewang [Forest Camp – Fully Approved (With Approval)] (7/3/3/1) – Gu Young Jun (Busan)
The most expensive horse of his crop at the two-year old sales last year, he was comfortably beaten by stablemate Fine Fine last time out. However, that was at 1400M, He;s never been tested around two turns so is something of an unknown quantity but has plenty of talent.

5. Naejangsan [Menifee Miss Merit (Old Trieste)] (7/4/3/0) – Kim Hae Sun (Seoul)
Hasn’t competed at higher than class 3 although was a comfortable winner last time out. Distance should suit but he won’t be one of the favourites.

6. Alpha Myeongjang [Pico Central – Lend (Coronado’s Quest)] – Song Keong Yun (Busan)
A Class 1 winner on his last start, he has a lot of quality. However, while he has won a class 4 race at 1500M, he looks a pure sprinter and may struggle to get the distance here.

7. Royal Galloper [Commendable – Explicitly (Exploit)] (12/3/2/2) – Shin Hyung Chul (Seoul)
Inconsistent and yet to win at higher than class 4. While he will most likely appreciate the distance, it would be a surprise if he was to rectify that here.

8. Rising Glory [Menifee – Straight Cash (Straight Man)] (9/4/3/1) – Jo Sung Gon (Busan)
The Korean Oaks winner hasn’t run since her victory in the fillies’ classic in August. However, Union rules prevent jockeys who are riding at Seoul on a Sunday from riding at Busan on a Friday and it is unlike Jo Sung Gon to give up the prospect of a lucrative weekend at home unless he thought he had a chance.

9. Gyeongbudaero [Menifee – Princess Lanique (Cherokee Run)] (13/5/3/3) – Joe Fujii (Busan)
Hasn’t won since the KRA Cup Mile in April. He was third in the Derby and a very creditable second behind five-year old multiple STakes winner – and winner of thsi race two years ago – Dangdae Bulpae, in the Busan Owners’ Cup last month. If he repeats that form, he has to be taken seriously. Should benefit from Joe Fujii being in the saddle.

10. Fine Fine [Forest Camp – Dream Fantasy (Manlove)] (13/6/2/0) – Lim Sung Sil (Busan)
An interesting one. Although he has recently been running in sprints, he has a victory over 1800M to his name and should be capable of competing here. A placing chance at possibly good odds.

11. Jigeum I Sungan [Ingrandire – Solmaru (Mujaazif)] (13/5/5/1) – Moon Se Young (Seoul)
The Derby winner won at the distance in a class 1 handicap last time out and that could be enough to make him favourite here. That was only his second start since the Derby so he shouldn’t be burned out and he has every chance of winning his second Classic.

12. Himchan Jilju [Kwaedo Nanma – Wild Triple (Military)] (14/6/0/1) – Chae Gyu Jun (Busan)
The only horse in the race by a Korean born sire (although all the others are Korean bred), he was fourth behind Dangdae Bulpae and Gyeongbudaero in the Busan Owners’ Cup. Outside chance of a place.

13. Tongjesa [Creek Cat – Namdoui Gangja (Greenwood Lake)] (9/6/0/2) – Oh Kyoung Hoan (Seoul)
Roared into form this summer and comes into the race on a run of five consecutive wins. He’ll have to find a little bit more to win here but he has every chance of doing so.

14. Nobel Pokpung [Didyme – Shar Baby (Talinum)] (11/4/3/2) – Gerrit Schlechter (Busan)
An unexpected second in the Korean Derby, he may have won had the race been an extra furlong. He’s got that extra furlong and, while he was well-beaten by talented US import Smoking Gun in his last start, he should relish this company. South African Gerrit Schlechter rides at Seoul for the first time since winning the International Jockey Challenge in 2007. He’s ridden Nobel Pokpung just once before and they won.

The Minister’s Cup is the highlight of a busy weekend of racing in Korea. Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday October 12

Busan Race Park: 11 races from 11:50 to 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 13:45 to 17:40

Saturday April 13

Seoul Race Park: 12 races from 11:00 to 17:40 including the Singapore Turf Club Trophy at 16:40
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 12:20 to 17:20

Sunday April 14

Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:00 to 17:55 including the Minister’s Cup at 16:15.
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:15 to 16:40

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

Weekend Preview: Oaks Trial At Seoul, Dongteuja Bids For 7 At Busan

We’re still nearly two months away from the Korean Oaks but Seoul’s top three-year old fillies will face off against each other this coming Saturdayin the Sports Seoul Cup, the capital’s top trial for the filly Classic.

Cheoneun winning earlier this year – can she find her form again in the Sports Seoul?

Just nine will run in the race, which will be contested over the Oaks distance of nine furlongs. Cheoneun and Dolpung Jilju are the best known having first made an impact as two-year olds last season. Both were well-beaten in the Derby as were Powerful Miss G and Jjak Kkung.

Improving filly – and commentator’s nightmare – I Love You, will have claims as will Recent High and Dodo Gongju, who’s won four of her six starts. See below for a full run-down of runners and riders.

Down at Busan another three-year old filly headlines the main event. ALthough born in Korea, Dongteuja (Montbrook) was sired overseas and therefore isn’t eligible for the Oaks. If she were, she’d be hot favourite and on Sunday afternoon her unbeaten record of six wins from six starts is on the line against class 1 opposition for the first time.

And she’s going to run slap-bang into two-time President’s Cup winner Dangdae Bulpae (Biwa Shinseiki) in what is going to be by far her toughest test to date. Japanese jockey Narazaki Kosuke gets the ride on the filly.

Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday June 22

Busan Race Park: 10 races from 12:00 to 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 13:30 to 17:30

Saturday June 23

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

Sunday June 24

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

Here’s the full list of runners and riders for the Sports Seoul Cup along with pedigree and race records (Runs/1st/2nd/3rd):

Sports Seoul Cup – Seoul Race Park – 1800M – Sunday June 24, 16:15

1. Jjak Kkung (KOR) [Forest Camp – Fab Four (Yes It’s True)] (7/3/0/3) – Lee Sang Hyeok
2. Cheoneun (KOR) [Forest Camp – Naha (Silver Buck)] (11/6/1/0) – Moon Se Young
3. All In Win (KOR) [Pico Central – Better Daze (Glitterman)] (5/3/1/0) – Moon Jung Kyun
4. Recent High (KOR) [Exploit – Charon (Jade Robbery)] (7/3/3/0) – Cho Kyoung Ho
5. Dodo Gongju (KOR) [Sunday Well – Speed Supreme (Formal Gold)] (6/4/0/0) – Kim Jeong Jun
6. I Love You (KOR) [Chief Pete – Make Believe (Defensive Play)] (5/3/0/0) – Park Tae Jong
7. Dolpung Jilju (KOR) [Didyme – Alder Gulch (Gulch)] (10/3/1/1) – Ham Wan Sik
8. Powerful Miss G (KOR) [Revere – Miss Geology (Jade Hunter)] (8/1/3/1) – Shin Hyoung Chul
9. Speedus (KOR) [Menifee – Tourney’s Gold (Ten Gold Pots)] (9/3/2/1) – Jo In Kwen

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.