Shin Woo Chul

Shin Woo Chul Retires From Training / Several Jockeys Retire Or Relocate / New Apprentices Set To Begin At Seoul & Busan

A couple of weeks after Tough Win had his retirement ceremony it was the turn of his trainer for his biggest wins, Shin Woo Chul, to have a retirement ceremony of his own at Seoul Racecourse last week. The 63-year-old trainer has reached the mandatory retirement age for trainers and will not apply to renew his license. 

Shin Woo Chul

Shin Woo Chul (Pic: Sports Chosun)

Shin has trained more winners than any other trainer in Korea – although that record will almost certainly be passed shortly by Kim Young Kwan at Busan – seeing his horses return victorious on 1149 occasions from a total of 8713 starters dating back to 1983.

Tough Win was his best horse although he also trained two-time SBS Cup winner High Point and 2003 Grand Prix Stakes winner Habidongju. Shin’s stable had been winding down recently with only 6 winners from 140 starters in his final 12 months.

Current leader of the Seoul Trainer’s Championship is Seo In Seok with 24 winners although only 8 winners separates him from 10th placed Bae Dae Sun in the ever noncompetitive capital. By contrast at cut-throat Busan, Kim Young Kwan leads with 66 with Peter Wolsley in 2nd on 36.

The end of June is the time when many licenses expire or come up from renewal and there are plenty of comings and goings this year.

Seoul jockeys Seo Do Soo, Kim Seok Bong, Kim Young Jin, Kho Sung Yi and Shin Dae Jun all surrendered their licenses at the end of June after careers of varying length and indifference. Some are likely to apply for training licenses. From Busan, Seo In Sub and Park Sung Kwang have also retired from the saddle.

For reasons recently reported,  a higher than usual number of riding vacancies have recently arisen in the pony racing on Jeju Island and along with a slew of new apprentices, Busan’s Jo Hee Won and Seoul’s Yoo Mi Ra have relocated to the island to become pony jockeys. For both it looks to be a good opportunity to revive careers that had been drifting somewhat.

Five riders have successfully graduated from the academy and have become apprentice thoroughbred jockeys. Two  will begin riding at Seoul shortly. They are 21-year-old Lee Dong Ha, who will be apprenticed to trainer Ha Jae Heung and 27-year-old Lee Cheol Kyung, who will be with Seo In Seok.

At Busan there are three new apprentices. 20-year-old Lee Hyo Sik will be with Kim Nam Joong. Jung Do Yoon, also 20, is apprenticed to An Woo Sung while the first Korean female jockey to be ride full-time at Busan since 2010 is 19-year-old Choi Eun Kyung. She gets a great opportunity to learn, having been placed with South African trainer Bart Rice.

Sunday Round-Up: Moon Se Young Brings His Wife To Work

Moon Se Young was presented with the 2011 Jockey Championship Trophy at Seoul Race Park on Sunday…by his wife.

2011 Prize-Winners: Trainer Shin Woo Chul (left with check), Tamna Saryo CEO Yoon Tae Hyeon (owner of Tough Win, centre), Champion Jockey Moon Se Young and Ace Galloper's owner Shin Joon Soo (right)

KRA TV Announcer Kim Ryeo Jin, who also happens to be Mrs Moon Se Young, was the surprise presenter of the award to her husband who racked up 105 wins last year to claim his second Seoul Jockey Championship.

Also receiving awards were Champion Trainer Shin Woo Chul, as well as connections of Seoul’s best two horses of the last year. Grand Prix Stakes winner Tough Win claimed the overall Horse Of The Year prize, Tamna Feed Company CEO Yoon Tae Hyeon picking up the award, while KRA Cup Classic winner Ace Galloper won the prize for Korean bred horses for owner Shin Joon Soo.

On the track, Champion Moon notched another two winners but he couldn’t take out the feature race which was won by Ham Wan Sik (who landed a treble) on Japanese five-year-old Real Victor (Biwa Shinseiki) who upset hot favourite Cheonun.

Cheonun was runner-up in the 2010 Korean Oaks and it seems likely that a similarly named filly could be making an impact on the Triple Crown races this year. Cheoneun (Forest Camp) began her three-year old career in the very last race on Sunday, scoring a comfortable two-length win over seven furlongs. That takes her record to four wins from six starts and she’ll be one to watch as the year progresses.

She's not going to believe you bought those so don't even try.

It’s not just horses we need to watch as the year progresses. Moon Se Young may be champion jockey now but there is plenty of talent coming up behind him.

Chief among those seems to be Jo In Kwen, who won Saturday’s big handicap on Jumong and Jang Chu Yeol, who is yet to open his account this year. A year behind them though is first-year apprentice Seo Seung Un. Seo won twice on Sunday and looks in good shape to ride out his apprenticeship (reach 40 winners) quicker than any Korean jockey before him.

For now though, Moon Se Young can content himself with being the best at what he does whilst being one of the richest sportsmen in the country. And married to a TV presenter.

* It was a good start to 2012 for Japanese jockey Makoto Noda. After being without a win in the final two months of last year, he landed successes on both Saturday and Sunday.

2011 – Records Broken, Movies Made, Retirements & Replacements

We’re just a few days away from the start of the 2012 racing season so there’s just time to look back at some of the big events in Korean racing in 2011, selected not necessarily in order of importance:

Mister Park wins for a record-breaking 16th consecutive time (KRA)

Mister Park Breaks the Record – In the US there was Rapid Redux. In Korea in 2011 there was Mister Park. In fact they would probably give each other quite a good race. In September, he surpassed Po Gyeong Seon and Saegangja, horses who have almost mythical status among Korean racing fans, with whom he was tied on fifteen wins, to claim the all-time record. He would extend his streak to seventeen before coming unstuck in an epic Grand Prix Stakes at Seoul in December.

Some of the shine was taken off when connections avoided going for the record in the Busan Metropolitan but regardless of this – and regardless of his defeat to Tough Win in the Grand Prix – Mister Park has done something no horse has been able to do in Korea before. For that, he is this blog’s Horse Of The Year.

Jang Chu Yeol 's Win Picture in the USA

Jang Chu Yeol Rides Winners in the USA – It shouldn’t really be a big story but it is. Young Korean jockeys at Seoul are getting better and better and most now get sent overseas for a short spell to expose them to different riding styles. Some have been to South Africa and some to Australia.

Jang Chu Yeol went to the USA and in November, rode 2 winners at Charles Town, the first Korean jockey to do so. Despite taking those two months out, Jang finished eleventh in the Seoul championship, one place behind…

Kim Hae Sun – Third year jockey Kim Hae Sun looks well set to become the first Korean female jockey to break through to the elite level, riding an impressive 29 winners in 2011. Now comes the difficult bit as she has ridden out her weight allowance and now will be competing on equal terms with the best in the weighing room. Part of Kim’s success has come with a certain new trainer, which brings us onto the next entry…

Kim Hae Sun contemplates getting on her horse in the snow-filled paddock - she got on 29 winners in 2011

Lee Shin Young – Last year she made this list by being the first Korean woman to earn a trainer’s licence. In 2011, she took control of her own barn and by the end of the year had landed 8 winners from her 51 runners, with Kim Hae Sun riding the majority of them.

Shin Woo Chul waits patiently for his interview after Tough Win landed him his 1000th career win as a trainer

Shin Woo Chul trains 1000 winners – The veteran trainer leads the all-time list and scored his 1000th winner in 2011. Fittingly it was Tough Win who got him the milestone victory and it was the same horse who crowned a wonderful year for him by winning the Grand Prix Stakes in December.

The KRA gets a new Chairman – Kim Gwang Won came to the end of his term in September this year and, after a delay of two months, was replaced by Jang Tae Pyeong. A career civil servant, the 62-year-old Jang joins a KRA that has been treading water recently. While former Chairman Kim was popular in some quarters, he leaves behind problems. The new track at Yeongcheon (a ridiculous place for a racecourse) is running into regulatory trouble, as is a KRA Plaza in Seocho in Seoul. Chairman Kim tried hard but Chairman Jang will need to try harder.

A diverse lot, aren't they?. Jang Tae Pyung and the KRA (front row, centre-KRA)

Korea Exports Racehorses – Three Korean bred racehorses were exported to Malaysia in October reflecting the rapid development made by the local breeding industry.

Publicity poster for the movie "Champ"

Champ – The racing movie starring Cha Tae Hyeon and very loosely based on the story of champion racemare Luna was released in September. Unlike last year’s “Grand Prix” it was a good watch and even has a cameo from South African Martin Wepner at the end riding the real Luna. Unfortunately, an on-set accident involving a horse cast a long shadow over the production.

Sires – The battle for leading sire went down to the last day of the season and was eventually won by Exploit. Just behind were Menifee and Vicar. With Forest Camp strolling the freshman sire list and with Ecton Park foals about to start racing, next year looks like it’s going to be very interesting.

A Two-Year-Old Comes Third In The Grand Prix – The Smarty Jones colt Smarty Moonhak was beaten on his debut but won his next four in a canter, including the Turkey Jockey Club Trophy. He was billed as the future of Korean racing. The first two-year-ol to ever run in the Grand Prix Stakes, in finishing third, just behind Tough Win and Mister Park, Smarty Moonhak showed that he’s very much the present of Korean racing.

Smarty Moonhak (KRA)

Smarty Moonhak, Mister Park and Tough Win were the biggest names of 2011 but they were joined by the likes of Yeonseung Daero, Dangdae Bulpae, Cheonnyeon Daero, Gwangyajeil, Useung Touch, Ace Galloper and Dongseo Jeongbeol – Stakes winners all. Lion Santa went nine races unbeaten at Busan while Khaosan gave Peter Wolsley his first Stakes winner. The great Bally Brae kept on winning into his ninth year while the equally great Baekgwang was retired.

Of course, only a small minority of horses who make it into this blog and indeed into the winner’s circle. Racing would not run without them and it is worth taking a moment to remember the contribution that the likes of Charming Girl, Haneulcheoreom, Perfect Love and all the other old-stagers make. Some have good owners, some do not. Jang Tae Pyeong would do well to pay more attention to this area in 2012.