Tony Castanheira

International Jockeys & Trainers Close Out 2022 With Milestones Aplenty

The overseas contingent in Korean racing had plenty to celebrate as 2022 reached its conclusion with records being smashed over the last couple of months of the year. Johan Victoire has passed the two-hundred winner mark at Seoul while down at Busan jockey Franco Da Silva and trainer Bart Rice, both breached three-hundred winners. Back in the capital, trainer Luigi Riccardi notched his century in the penultimate week of the season.

Franco Da Silva’s milestone came first, and it was for Rice, on the trainer’s Alec King Iji on October 28th. Da Silva debuted in 2016 and just like Rice, was successful in his first ever race in the country, ultimately riding a treble on his first day. Jockey Da Silva’s figures are remarkably similar to those of trainer Rice. He has a win rate of over 13%, a quinella rate of 27% and show rate of 38%.

Da Silva won the Korean Derby in 2018 on Ecton Blade for trainer Kim Young-kwan for whom he also picked up the G3 Busan Owners’ Cup on the Triple Crown winner Power Blade in 2017. On the day he cracked 300, Da Silva added another in the final race on the card and then one more on the following Sunday before heading off for an extended overseas break with family, his 60 winners across the year putting him behind only You Hyun-myung, Seo Seung-un and Park Jae-i at the top of the Busan table.

Bart Rice’s landmark win arrived on November 11th with three-year-old gelding Fusaichi, ridden by Chae Sang-hyun in the colours of owner and breeder Isidore Farm.

“I feel good, you know. Three-hundred wins, it’s ok, I’m happy.” Rice told KRBC Busan’s social media on the day. Fusaichi, who is by Purge and out of Isidore’s mare Fusaichiswonderful (by Fusaichi Pegasus) was breaking his maiden on his fourth start.

“Well done to the owner as well as he has always supported me. But the stable has done well, the staff has done well. It’s been a long road, but all good.”

Having previously trained in South Africa, Bart Rice arrived in Korea in late 2013 as the third overseas trainer to be licensed after Peter Wolsley and Joe Murphy. He sent out his first runners in January 2014 and got a winner with his first starter, an 8/1 chance called Gyeongnam Sinhwa.

Rice’s one-hundredth winner arrived in May 2017 and his two-hundredth in July 2020, the latter, Mr. Fusion, also in the Isidore colours.  He has now sent out over 2200 runners for a win rate in excess of 13%, a quinella rate of 24% and show figures of almost 35%. Fusaichi was his 38th of 43 winners in 2022 leaving him in 6th place in the Busan Trainer Premiership.

Franco Da Silva is currently the only foreign jockey licensed at Busan following the departures during the year of Djordje Perovic and Ioannis Poullis, although new additions are expected in the first part of 2023. Before leaving, Perovic broke Ikuyasu Kurakane’s record of most winners in Korea by a foreign jockey.

In the trainer ranks, Peter Wolsley, who debuted in 2007, is still going strong on and closing in his 650th winner – only Kim Young-kwan has ever trained more at the track. Thomas Gillespie, a 2015 addition, is also going well, with 280 total wins in Korea.

At Seoul, Johan Victoire crashed through the 200-winner barrier in November, when partnering Choego Race to a two-and-a-half length victory at class 3 level. Victoire is another member of the “winner in first race in Korea” club having triumphed on his first mount at Seoul in 2017. He reached 100 in 2019 and ended 2022 with 33 winners for the year.

Among those winners were Jangsan Bada in the Listed Ilgan Sports Trophy, and even more significantly, a second SBS Sports Sprint (G3) in June. Just as he did in 2020, Victoire partnered Morfhis to victory in what is the main lead-up race for the Korea Sprint. Victoire has ridden Morfhis in ten of his eleven career wins since first being paired with him in all the way back in 2018.

Antonio Da Silva finished in 6th place in the Seoul Jockey Premiership with 44 winners. David Breux notched 34 and Alan Munro 27.

Victoire’s Ilgan Sports win on Jangsan Bada was the first feature race win in Korea for trainer Tony Castanheira, one of 18 winners he sent out over 2022. Numbers-wise it was a breakout season for Luigi Riccardi, whose 42 winners saw him tie with Seo In-seok for 2nd place in the Trainer Premiership, two behind the Raon-backed Champion Park Jong-kon. Seo had more runner-up finishes but also sent out nearly double the number of starters with 443 to Riccardi’s 227, the Italian’s 18.5% win-rate the highest among trainers at either Seoul or Busan.

The new Korean racing season gets underway at Busan on Friday January 6.