JRA jockey Yoshihiro Furukawa in Seoul for KRA International Jockeys Invitational
Seoul Race Park © Korea Racing Authority
Amid the slew of summer international jockey challenges comes one more from Japan's closest neighbor, as the Korea Racing Authority hosts the 7th International Jockeys Invitational at Seoul Race Park on Aug. 13 and 14. Invited to represent Japan will be the Ritto –based JRA jockey Yoshihiro Furukawa, who will join five other riders from around the world for the event.
Six countries – Turkey, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, Japan, and Malaysia -- will be represented by six riders from overseas competing alongside six riders from the host country in a total of two races -- one each on Saturday and Sunday. Both days' races for the event are scheduled to be the ninth on the card, with evening post times. They are both over sand at distances of 1,900 meters.
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 is to have a ride in each race, which means the minimum field size will be 12.
In addition to Furukawa riding for Japan, the international team includes:
-- Australia's Dwayne Dunn, 38, quite the veteran who counts the Caulfield Cup among his big wins. Dunn, who has also done a riding stint in Hong Kong, achieved in 2008 the rare feat of winning four consecutive Blue Diamond Stakes, a (G1) for 2-year-olds at Caulfield.
-- Ireland's Rory Cleary, 24, who has enjoyed considerable success since his debut in 2004 and clinched a big win last year in the Fairy Bridge Stakes at Tipperary in August.
-- South Africa's Aldo Domeyer, 24, who in five years' riding has notched nearly 200 wins. He is nicknamed "The Candy Kid" after a play on his father's nickname "The Candyman." Domeyer's father, Andrew Fortune, was champion jockey of South Africa in the 2008-2009 season.
-- Turkey's Ahmet Celik, 24, who joined top riders Johnny Murtagh and Olivier Peslier in the jockey challenge in Istanbul last month.
-- Malaysia's Ronald Woodworth, 38, who is the only jockey to have ridden in Korea before. Woodworth has ridden predominately in Singapore and Malaysia and has brought home some 24 stakes winners,
Set tentatively as riders for Korea are Park Tae Jong, Shin Hyoung Chul, Cho Kyoung Ho, Moon Se Young, Oh Kyoung Hoan and Jo In Kwen.
The 33-year-old, Ritto-based Furukawa, a native of Okayama Prefecture, received his jockey license in 1996, graduating in the same class as top riders Yuichi Fukunaga and Ryuji Wada. Exclusively riding on the flat, he has accumulated some 267 wins in his career. With 15 wins so far this year, he is currently ranked 45th among all JRA riders in Japan, 26th among riders based at Ritto. Last year saw Furukawa mark a personal best 38 wins. In 1997, his clean riding won Furukawa, nicknamed "Furukichi," the JRA Fair Play Award for western Japan riders. Furukawa won the Hanshin Sansai Himba Stakes (G1), the top race for 2-year-old fillies in 1997. The race is now named the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies (G1).
Among the horses decided for Furukawa's three rides are Choedayeonseung in the event's first race, the ninth race on the Saturday card. The race has a first-place prize of 44.8 mil. won (about 3.2 mil. yen). The filly, a 4-year-old Korean-bred by Creek Cat, has four wins in 18 starts, with all wins at 1,400 meters or less.
On Sunday, Furukawa takes the reins of Chart One for the day's sixth race, a 1,300-meter event kicking off at 4:35 p.m. local time (same as Japan time). Chart One, a 6-year-old mare by Silent Warrior, has failed to post a win in her 30 races to date, but has notched a second and five thirds.
Furukawa's chances look better next time up, in the Sunday main race, where he is paired with A Wanted Affair, an American-bred 3-year-old filly by Ten Most Wanted out of Noble Affair, who has two wins, two seconds and two thirds in nine starts. A Wanted Affair last won in April over 1,700 meters. She has also won over 1,000 meters. The Sunday main race is the highlight race of the weekend at Seoul Race Park. The 1,900-meter event over sand has a purse of 200 mil. Korean won, a first-place prize of 108 mil. won (about 7.7 mil. yen). Jockeys receive 5.78 percent of the prize money.
Last year's jockey challenge was won by Korean jockey Choi Bum Hyun, whose one win and one second-place finish boosted his final score to 32 points. Japan's Shu Ishibashi rode one winner to finish a strong fourth with 23 points. The Korean team, with 112 points overall, also topped the visitors, who accumulated 78 points.
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