Trainers

Four Long Standing Seoul Trainers Retire

Four of the longest-serving trainers at Seoul Racecourse officially gave up their barns last week. Ha Jae Heung, Kim Yang San, Yang Jae Cheol and Jung Ji Eun all reached the mandatory retirement age of 63 in the year leading up to June 30th. 

Trainers Retirement

Three of the four retiring trainers, Ha Jae Heung, Kim Yang Sun and Yang Jae Cheol alng with significant others at a retirement function hosted by their Association (Pic: Seoul Racehorse Trainers’ Association)

All four trainers began their careers at the Ttukseom Racecourse in Seoul, Jung receiving his license in 1982 and Ha, Kim and Yang in 1983.  At the time there was no private ownership of racehorses with all horses being owned by the racing authority so it wasn’t until the 1990s, following the relocation of the racecourse to its current site in Gwacheon that the modern racing calender, complete with Stakes races and big purses began to take shape.

Jung Ji Eun – 8496 starters / 748 winners / 856 2nds / 786 3rds: A filly called Dangdae Jeil (Lucky Ruler) was his best horse of the 1990s, winning 25 of 60 starts between 1995 and 2001 including the Ttukseom Cup in 1997. Fillies would continue to be his specialty as he won the Korean Oaks and then a second Ttukseom Cup in 2001 with Espass (Psychobabble).  His final Stakes win came in 2009 with the filly Top Point (Tom Point) in the KRA Cup Classic.

Ha Jae Heung – 10535/937/1011/1042: Ha trained the winners of a number of listed races but only got the one Graded Stakes victory. It came with his best horse, Saebyeok Dongja (Fiercely), Korean Derby winner in 2005 and who would go on to 10 of his 37 outings. By far the most active of the four at the time of their retirement, he had sent out 20 winners from just over 300 starters in his final year.

Kim Yang Sun – 9088/907/912/908: Kim made his Classic breakthrough with Seonbong Taegam (Road Of War) in the Korean Oaks in 2000 and was champion trainer in 2001, a feat he would repeat in 2009. He will be most remembered though for handling one of the genuine stars of Korean Racing, Dongbanui Gangja (Broken Vow), who he prepared for back-to-back victories in the Grand Prix Stakes in 2008 and 2009.

Yang Jae Cheol – 6877/550/597/598: While Yang wasn’t able to win a Graded Stakes race, he did win the Sports Chosun Cup on two occasions, first with Dol Kyuk (Port Erin) back at Ttukseom in 1991 and then again at Gwacheon in 2002 with Cheonji Kiun (Glorify).

* Also leaving the training ranks last week was Heo Jae Young. The former jockey took out a license in 2012 but the forty-year-old has now decided to pursue a different path in the industry. He trained 53 winners from 1087 starters.

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Ha Jae Heung, Derby Winning Trainer Retires

Ha Jae Heung, who trained Saebyeock Dongja to win the Korean Derby in 2005 and sits in 2nd place in the all-time winner list among trainers at Seoul, has retired. He saddled his final runner in the last on Sunday.

Ha Jae Heung trainer

Among trainers at Seoul, Ha Jae Heung was, at the time of retirement, join 2nd-longest serving behind Jung Ji Eun. 63-year-old Ha gained his license on the same day as Kim Yang San, at the old Seoul Ttukseom Racecourse in 1983.  He finished with just shy of 1000 winners from 10500 starters across his career. It may not sound a lot but Ha is from a generation of trainers who navigated the transition from the time when all racehorses were owned by the Authority, no prize money and restrictions on the number of runners a trainer could have, to the modern age of private ownership and Stakes racing.

Ha’s best horse was probably Saebyeock Dongja, who in addition to the Derby also won the Herald Business Cup in 2005 and the Sports Chosun Cup in 2006. He would win the latter race again with Sotong Sidae in 2015. His last Stakes winner was Waikiki in the Gwacheon Mayor’s Cup in 2015.

Ha Hae Heung went out with a winner on his final weekend as his Two Kay won the last at Seoul on Saturday under Manoel Nunes. It was winner 936 of his career.

KRA Is Recruiting Overseas Trainers

The Korea Racing Authority is currently seeking qualified and experienced applicants to join its professional thoroughbred Trainer ranks.

The stables at Busan

The stables at Busan

Applicants must have a minimum of three years’ experience and currently hold a valid trainer’s license in a Part 1 or Part II racing country. In addition to other criteria which will enable them to set up their business in Korea, trainers must also have a minimum 8% win or 15% quinella strike-rate or have trained more than 1000 career winners.

Click here for detailed information and here for the application form. For more information or to apply, please contact Natalia Lee at the Korea Racing Authority on: natalia@kra.co.kr

It’s a tough assignment requiring more than just training skill as Korea is by no means the easiest place to adapt to for professionals working in any field, even for those with a lot of experience. The small number of trainers currently working in the country will certainly attest to this and the challenges they have had to overcome. However, the potential rewards for those who can make a go of it, are great.

South African Trainer Bart Rice Set For Busan

The newest addition to the training ranks at Busan Race Park is Korea’s 3rd foreign trainer. South African Bart Rice was officially granted a license this week.

South African Bart Rice is Busan's latest foreign trainer (KRA)

South African Bart Rice is Busan’s latest foreign trainer (KRA)

37-year-old Rice grew up in Zimbabwe and began working as an assistant trainer in South Africa as soon as he left school and worked for a number of trainers before striking out on his own in 2002.

Since then, Rice has trained at a number of tracks across South Africa and also in Zimbabwe, amassing a decent number of winners.

An all-rounder, the trainer has also moonlighted in show-jumping and as a driver in harness racing.

The arrival of Rice and his wife Pam, who will be his assistant, has taken longer than expected due to the lengthy process required to secure a visa. Now that they are here, the task of getting horses into their barn begins.

Isidore Farm, always great supporters of the foreign trainers here, have sent Rice his first two with Ecton Lass and North Sky moving across from Peter Wolsley.

Wolsley is the role-model for any frougn trainer coming here although it took the Australian two years to get established. However, two years was all that American Joe Murphy, the only other overseas trainer to try his luck here, was given.

Rice has been assigned stable 31 at Busan.

Another Milestone For Lee Shin Young – Female Trainer Saddles Selangor Turf Club Victor

By the end of the year, Korea may well have its first female President. Of course, the woman in question has had some advantages. She is, after all, the daughter of the dictator who presided over nearly two decades of extraordinary economic development – and numerous human rights abuses. However, if it happens, it will still be an historic moment.

Another Milestone: Lee Shin Young (Pic: KRA)

There is another woman worthy of respect; a woman who should be headlining news bulletins and giving speeches at the nation’s top Universities. For more than ten years, Lee Shin Young has been achieving things no other woman has ever before come close to in the ultra-male dominated world of Korean horse racing. Today, she achieved a little more.

Lee Shin Young was only the third Korean woman to gain a jockey license. She rode 90 winners before last year, at the age of 31, becoming the first Korean woman to qualify as a trainer and open her own barn. It would be wrong to say that most expected her to fail.

Even those who may wanted have her to fall on her face – and there were some – knew enough about Lee to not make the mistake of underestimating her. A formidable character and talent, she was always going to succeed.

With 15 winners from her first 100 runners, Lee entered four-year old colt Holy Moely (Nihon Pillow Neil) into the Selangor Turf Club Trophy at Seoul Race Park today. Under jockey Shin Hyoung Chul – 13 years Lee’s senior, the 9-1 chance led from gate-to-wire in driving rain to record a comfortable victory.

It wasn’t a Stakes race, but it was by far the biggest win of Lee’s training career to date. She has 17 horses under her care now and more are likely to come.

You never see a woman leading-up or hot-walking a horse at Seoul or Busan. However, young jockeys such as Kim Hae Sun and Lee Ah Na are coming through and there are now more young women in the KRA’s education system. Check their Facebook pages and without fail, they list Lee Shin Young as the person they most admire.

She’s unknown outside of racing circles and she’s probably not at all bothered by that. She should be as what she has achieved deserves wider recognition. What’s most exciting though, is at just 32 years of age, her greatest achievements are perhaps still yet to come.

Selangor Turf Club Trophy – Seoul Race Park – 1800M – April 21, 2012

1. Holy Moely (KOR) [Nihon Pillow Neil-A.P.Ranshu (Adjudicating)] – Shin Hyoung Chul – 9.6, 3.2
2. Special Win (KOR) [Tahamkke-Wellbeing Cat (Creek Cat)] – Moon Jung Kyun – 2.0
3. Capital Song (KOR) [Capital Spending-Songstress (Bluebird)] – Cho Kyoung Ho – 1.7

Distances: 2.5 lengths/1 lengths – 14 ran.