Nozomu Tomizawa

Rafale Downed As Goliath Marine Wins Again At Busan

Highly rated 3-year-old Rafale slumped to defeat as trainer Peter Wolsley and jockey Jo Sung Gon cleaned-up at Busan on Friday.

While he was always going to be favourite, Rafale (Colors Flying) was sent off at impossibly short-odds for the 1900M class 2 handicap and while he looked well-placed entering the home straight, it was second-favourite Goliath Marine (Volponi) who sprinted away from the field to claim his 3rd win from his last 4 starts. Rafale, who was 2nd in last year’s Seoul Breeders’ Cup and was an easy winner when tried around two-turns for the first time in January, came home 4th.

Goliath Marine was the 4th winner of the day for Australian trainer Peter Wolsley, who returns to the tope of the trainer’s championship as a result. Earlier, he’d sent out Happy Hana (Biwa Shinseiki) to win race 5 and Choedae Gangja (Didyme) to win race 6 before his up and coming import Different Dimension (Into Mischief) landed a 3rd win in 3 career starts in race 10.

Lee Hee Cheon rode Choedae Gangja but the other three were all ridden by Jo Sung Gon and Jo would also get four winners on the day with a perfectly timed ride on Morning Hwiparam (Everydayissaturday) in race 8. Jo showed his quality in the saddle by bringing the gelding from last to first through a crowd of horses in the home straight, stealing victory on the line by the narrowest of noses.

Wolsley wasn’t the only foreign connection at Busan among the winners yesterday. Nozomu Tomizawa rode favourite Daejiui Jilju (Admire Don) to victory in race 3 while his fellow Japanese rider Masa Tanaka scored in race 7 on Triple Nine (Ecton Park). From the Kim Young Kwan stable, Triple Nine has now won three of his four starts to date.

Racing returns to Busan on Sunday when Success Story, Ghost Whisper, Cheonji Bulpae and Gumpo Sky all feature in the main handicap.

Punters’ Friend Fujii Set For Return

In what is great news for punters but less so for local jockeys, Joe Fujii is set to return to race riding this week having been passed fit after five months on the sidelines with a shoulder injury suffered in a nasty fall in early July.

Joe Fujii on Magic Dancer - he'll ride him in the Grand Prix Stakes

Joe Fujii on Magic Dancer – he’ll ride him in the Grand Prix Stakes

Fujii fell from gelding Hybrid in race 4 on July 6 and while initially it was hoped that he would only be out for up to three months, surgery and a long period of recuperation was required.

Despite being out for half the season, Fujii still lies in 7th place in the Busan Jockey Championship. Since coming to Korea in 2012, he has won a host of big races including the Korean Derby, the Oaks and the Grand Prix Stakes. He’s already booked to ride Magic Dancer in this year’s event at Seoul Racecourse on December 14.

Fujii displays the pins that had just been taken from his shoulder

Fujii displays the pins that had just been taken from his shoulder

Fujii hasn’t wasted his time off. As well as spending time in his native Japan, he toured Europe, spending time at Darryll Holland’s yard in Newmarket and also visited Hong Kong, taking in some big race meetings and even getting in the local media:

Fujii Purton

What punters care about though is his strike rate and with 29% of his mounts making the quinella and 44% in the top three, he is the go-to man for many and Singaporean punters will also get to benefit from his services when regular Friday simulcasting from Busan begins this month.

He didn't always keep the best of company during his time off (Pic: Joe Fujii)

He didn’t always keep the best of company during his time off (Pic: Joe Fujii)

Fujii will rejoin Busan at the head of what is now a sizeable Japanese contingent. Masa Tanaka is one place behind him in the Jockey Championship. Nozomu Tomizawa, who had a successful stint at Seoul five years ago recently came back to Korea and is gradually getting into the swing of things while Hitoshi Oyama has been given a license from this month. Oyama is married to Hitomi Miyashita, who had a very successful time riding at Busan five years ago.

Ikuyasu Kurakane is currently booting home winners at Seoul and the return of Fujii will be celebrated in the betting ring this coming Friday.

An injured Joe Fujii watches the races at Seoul

An injured Joe Fujii watches the races at Seoul

Shinichi Bows Out Of Seoul But Nozi’s Back At Busan And Fujii Is Recovering

Shinichi Terachi has finished up his stint rising at Seoul Racecourse but there’s a familiar face back on the Korean racing scene as Nozomu Tomizawa returns to the peninsula to take up a 4-month jockey license at Busan.

Shinichi Terachi's biggest win in Korea came on Geumbit Hwanhui in the Seoul Oaks Trial (KRA)

Shinichi Terachi’s biggest win in Korea came on Geumbit Hwanhui in the Seoul Oaks Trial (KRA)

It was a challenging four months at Seoul for Terachi. The 35-year-old was able to get on plenty of horses but he wasn’t given a whole lot of quality to work with and ends with 7 winners from 159 rides. Whenever he got a horse with a chance of winning, he got the job done including two winners on his final weekend.

He also won on one which didn’t look to have a chance. Terachi’s biggest victory came in June’s Sports Seoul Cup, the capital’s main Oaks trial race, on 27/1 outsider Geumbit Hwanhui.

Nozomu Tomizawa in the Seoul paddock during his first stint in Korea (KRA)

Nozomu Tomizawa in the Seoul paddock during his first stint in Korea (KRA)

His departure leaves the remarkable Ikuyasu Kurakane, currently 2nd in the Seoul Jockey Championship, as the only foreign rider in the capital.

That’s because it’s to Busan, where Masa Tanaka has been having to talk to himself in the weighing room since the departure of Darryll Holland and long-term injury to Joe Fujii, that Nozomu Tomizawa will go as he returns to Korea five years after he finished up his first stint here.

Tomizawa arrived in August 2007 and battled away for almost two years racking up 47 winners from 722 rides at Seoul. He didn’t win any Stakes races but is best remembered for his partnership with the gelding Gamadongja – a horse that was really a sprinter – on whom Tomizawa won four Class 1 races at distances from 1200M to 2000M.

It won’t be Tomizawa’s first time at Busan. He has one win from eight mounts at the South Coast track on weekends when he visited to ride in Stakes races. The 33-year-old has spent most of his riding career in Australia and should fit in well with the similarly Antipodean-accented Tanaka, who is also committed to the track until at least the end of this year.

As for Masa Tanaka himself, the hugely personable jockey currently lies in 8th position in the Busan Championship and produced a cracking ride in Seoul this past Sunday to guide New York Blue to 3rd place in the Asia Challenge Cup.

Two days before the Asia Challenge Cup, Tanaka rode a double at Busan, one of which was for trainer Bart Rice. The South African is maintaining his superb strike rate with 21% of his starters winning since he opened his barn at the track last December.

Rice currently lies in 12th position in the Trainers’ Championship, having saddled more than 100 fewer starters than all but two of the trainers ahead of him. One of those two is Peter Wolsley, currently clear in 2nd place.

No update on foreign riders in Korea would be complete though without talking about Joe Fujii, The man who took over Toshio Uchida’s title as “the most popular Japanese person in Korea” was in Seoul last weekend to watch the Asia Challenge Cup.

While his broken shoulder is expected to keep him out for another three months, the ever-positive Fujii was in high spirits and with his license to ride in Korea having been extended despite his injury, he was looking forward to getting back to business on the track as soon as possible.

Fujii has won the Derby, the Oaks and the Grand Prix Stakes. Korean punters are looking forward to his return just as much as the man himself.

Joe Fujii watches the races at Seoul on Sunday. All punters want him back riding as soon as possible

Joe Fujii watches the races at Seoul on Sunday. All punters want him back riding as soon as possible