JRA rider Shu Ishibashi is in Korea to take part in the 6th KRA International Jockey Challenge at Seoul Race Park on Aug. 21-22. Ishibashi will compete against six of Korea's top riders as one of six riders from abroad.
A total of seven countries will be represented in this year's challenge. In addition to the host country and Japan, riders from Australia, Ireland, South Africa, Turkey and the United States will be taking part in the series.
Jockeys will compete in a total of four races - two each on Saturday and Sunday. The Saturday races, the sixth and the 10th on the card with post times of 5 p.m. and 8 p.m., respectively, are both over dirt at 1,400 meters, On Sunday, the designated challenge races are the seventh (1,800 meters, dirt) and ninth races (1,900 meters, dirt), with post times of 5:45 p.m. and 7:35 p.m.
Riders will be vying for a grand prize of $20,000 and the runnerup will take home $10,000. Third place is good for $5,000. Points will be allocated by finishing order, with 20 points awarded for a win, 10 points for second and 6, 4, 3, and 2 points each for each successive placement in decreasing order. One point is awarded for any place after sixth place. Each jockey will have a ride in each race, which means the minimum field size will be 12.
An added bonus of a team prize is also being offered. The team prize pits Korea against the international squad, with each member of the winning team receiving $1,000 in prize money.
This year's international squad is comprised of:
- Australia's Scott Seamer, a winner of both the Melbourne Cup and the Caulfield Cup. Seamer is a former champion jockey in Brisbane, where he predominantly rides at present.
- Ireland's Niall McCullagh, 41, who rides in his native country in the summer but has spent much of recent years winning hearts and races in India.
- South Africa's Muzi Yeni, who has already won 100 rides this season and was winner of the challenge in 2007.
- Turkey's Akin Sozen is an up-and-coming young rider, who at the tender age of 23 has already ridden over 600 winners in his native country.
- The United States' Oliver Castillo, who passed the 1,000 mark for wins earlier this year.
From the host country of Korea will be Korean racing icon Park Tae Jong, Moon Se Young, Yoo Sang Wan, Cho Kyoung Ho, Jung Ki Yong and Choi Bum Hyun.
The 26-year-old Ishibashi, a native of Tokyo, is based at the Miho Training Center in eastern Japan. He rides for trainer Masato Shibata, himself a highly popular jockey until his retirement in 1994. Ishibashi was licensed with the JRA in 2003 and was recognized for his talent that year with the "Minpo Keiba Kisha Kurabu Sho," a racing reporters' award for new jockeys from eastern Japan.
Ishibashi is currently ranked 32nd in the JRA jockey ranking. Strictly a flat-race rider, he has notched 24 wins and 24 second-place finishes from 475 rides this year, with a total career record of 256 victories and 275 second-place finishes from 3,499 mounts. Ishibashi is currently enjoying his best year yet for grade-race wins, having captured both the Grade 3 Fairy Stakes in January and the Grade 3 Arlington Cup in February aboard Cosmo Nemo Shin and Cosmo Sensor, respectively.
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