Tanabe tally secures third place in Malaysia Jockeys Championship
(c) Selangor Turf Club
Hironobu Tanabe, representing Japan in the Selangor Turf Club International Jockeys Championship over the weekend of June 16-17, rode one winner and one runnerup in the five-race series to finish in third place overall. Tanabe's total 19 points gave him a solid third, well off winner Noel Callow with 30 points total and runnerup Mark Gallagher with 28 points, but still in the money. Prizes and trophies were awarded to the top three finishers among the 14 jockeys invited to participate from 10 countries.
The event, hosted at Kuala Lumpur's Sungai Besi Racecourse by the Selangor Turf Club, was inaugurated last year. This year marked not only the second championship but the second overall win for Australian Noel "King" Callow, who has referred to the Selangor Turf Club as being "like my second home." Five races, three on Saturday and two on Sunday, made up the event, part of the club's 9th International Racing Carnival, which marks the wrapup of the club's Triple Crown. Points in the jockey championship were awarded for each of the five races -- 12 points to the winner; 7 points to the runnerup, 4 points for third place and 1 point for fourth.
It was eventual fourth-place overall finisher Jackson Low, representing Malaysia, who picked off the first leg of the event, the third race on Saturday. Mark Gallagher scored the most wins in the event as the veteran 44-year-old rider notched victories in the third and last legs of the event and finished third in the first leg for an overall 28 points. The 37-year-old Callow, however, managed to scrape past the Irishman by two points for the overall win, with a second-place finish in the first leg, a win of the second leg, and a second and third in Sunday's two races.
Japan's Tanabe, 28, came up empty-handed on Saturday with sixth, 11th, and seventh-place finishes in the three races, but rallied on Sunday to capture the fourth leg and finish second in the final leg. Tanabe's final tally of 19 points was enough to lift him into third place overall.
The fourth leg, the eighth race on the Sunday card was a 1,400-meter Class 4 event. Tanabe, paired with Sinseven, a 5-year-old horse by Kashani, topped the field and beat Callow's mount Aussie Son to the wire by less than a length with a time of 1:24.48. At that point Tanabe was tied with Jackson Low for points.
In the last leg, a mile Class 3 event run shortly before 6 p.m. local time as the ninth race of the day, Tanabe was aboard Good Friend, a Catbird-sired 6-year-old. Tanabe failed to catch winner Pina Colarda, who finished nearly 2 lengths ahead of him under Mark Gallagher, but once again beat Callow, who finished third aboard Be Sure. Winning time was 1 minute 36.12 seconds.
Tanabe expressed his satisfaction with the overall results of his Malaysian outing. “Riding, I was able to bring out the good points of the Malaysian horses and was able to notch a win overseas as well. On the first day, I wasn’t able to earn any points but I’m happy with an overall third place from my win and second place on the second day,” Of the overall experience, he added, “There are things you don’t encounter riding in Japan and this was a valuable experience for me. I’d like to be able to take on the challenge in the future as well if I have such opportunities again.”
Also competing in the Malaysia Jockeys Championship were Australia's Daniel Nikolic, Austrian Erwin Dubravka, Brazilian Jose de Souza, Tomas Lukasek from the Czech Republic, Frenchman Gerald Avranche, Irishman Wayne Smith, Koreans Cho Kyungho and Kim Hyesun, Saimee Jumaat from Singapore, and I Azhar from Malaysia.
The top three finishers overall received trophies, along with cash prizes. The winner took home 20,000 Malaysian ringgit (approx. 0.5 mil. yen). Second place in the event was worth 5,000 ringgit and third place 3,000 ringgit.
Tanabe, a 28-year-old native of Fukushima Prefecture, is contracted by Miho Training Center's Kazuo Konishi in eastern Japan. Tanabe received his jockey license in 2002 and enjoyed his best year yet last year with victory in three graded races – the G3 Antares Stakes aboard Gold Blitz, the G2 Centaur Stakes with A Shin Virgo, and the G3 Fuji Stakes partnered with Eishin Apollon. Tanabe ended 2011 with a personal best 88 wins and the No. 7 jockey spot overall, No. 3 in eastern Japan. He also was recognized with the JRA Hope Prize.
Tanabe currently holds the No. 21 spot among all of Japan's riders with 23 wins in Japan so far this year. He is No. 9 among those riders based at Miho.
Sungai Besi Racecourse is the main racecourse of the Selangor Turf Club, which was founded in the late 1800s. The course, also known simply as Selangor, is located a 20-minute drive from the Kuala Lumpur city center, or about 45 minutes by taxi from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. The turf course is run to the left and has a circumference of 2,000 meters, a width of 25 meters and turns banked from 1-11 percent.
Malaysia racing is categorized using a class system based on ratings. The lowest class, Class 5 is for horses with ratings under 43. The top class, Class 1, is for horses with ratings of over 80. The Malaysia Triple Crown consists of the Tunku Gold Cup in late January or early February, the Selangor Gold Cup run in April, and the Piala Emas Sultan Selangor, which was also run on June 17.
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