Turkey's Celik scoops KRA International jockeys Invitational; Japan's Furukawa 10th
Seoul Race Park © Korea Racing Authority
Turkish rider Ahmet Celik waltzed away with the 7th KRA International Jockeys Invitational on Sunday, Aug. 14, despite Aldo Domeyer's fancy moves aboard Tango Step in the day's feature race, the 200-mil.-won YTN Cup at Seoul Race Park.
The jockey challenge, which saw six Korean riders and six jockeys from around the world vie for top points and the event's $20,000 grand prize. The event, initially comprised of four races, was reduced to two total at the last moment, due apparently to a lack of runners.
Celik won the first leg on Saturday aboard the popular 5-year-old Sagunyukjin to win by 4 lengths over Korea team captain Park Tae Jong on Bichui Adeul. Dwayne Dunn from Australia finished third on darkhorse Yosulgongju. Yoshihiro Furukawa game in ninth, picking up only one point aboard Choedayeonseung.
South Africa's Domeyer was a surprise the following day, as "The Candy Kid" flashed suddenly into the spotlight with a come-from-behind bid that stole the show from female jockey Kim Hae Sun, who was hoping, paired with front-running Kkochyeoul, to become Korea's first woman to win a stakes race. It was not to be, however, as Tango Step moved past horse after horse, gained the lead with a furlong to go, and held on for the win, 2-1/2 lengths ahead of Kkochyeoul. Fortunata finished in third under Shin Hyoung Chul. Tango Step, a 4-year-old filly, covered the 1,900 meters of sand was 2:06.4.
Domeyer's response to his good fortune, arms in the air and shouting in joy as he made his way back after the race, was a refreshing sight for Korean fans, accustomed to more somber responses from Korean jockeys winning a stakes race.
Despite Domeyer's success in the YTN Cup, which split the two-race challenge one for one, Celik took the overall challenge. Celik finished the Sunday race in eighth place, which put him ahead of Domeyer's last-place finish on Saturday. Celik took home the grand prize of $20,000. Second was good for $10,000.
Furukawa came in last of the 14 runners in Sunday's race, an unexpected result as his chances with A Wanted Affair had been considered much better than last place. An American-bred 3-year-old filly, A Wanted Affair had enjoyed two wins, two seconds and two thirds in nine starts going into Sunday's race. She was however, untested at 1,900 meters.
"The results were unfortunate, but it was a very good experience for me to ride in an atmosphere totally different from what I'm used to," Furukawa said remaining upbeat. "I'll try my best again back in Japan. To all those who cheered me on, thank you very much." Furukawa had also picked up an extra ride on Sunday in the day's sixth race, in which he rode Chart One, a 6-year-old mare who has yet to win in 31 races, to a seventh-place finish in a field of 11.
The 33-year-old, Ritto-based Furukawa, a native of Okayama Prefecture, received his jockey license in 1996. He has accumulated some 267 wins in his career. With 15 wins so far this year, he is currently ranked 45th among all riders in Japan, 26th among riders based at Ritto.
Other non-Korean riders in the challenge were Rory Cleary of Ireland and Ronald Woodworth, representing Malaysia.
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