Hayato Yoshida in Seoul for KRA International Jockeys Invitational
Seoul Race Park © Korea Racing Authority
With jockey challenges dotting the summer months around the world, Japan's closest racing neighbor too prepares to roll out the starting gates. The Korea Racing Authority sets the stage for the 8th International Jockeys Invitational at Seoul Race Park on Aug. 11 and 12.
Invited to represent Japan and in Korea already in preparation for the four-race challenge is JRA jockey Hayato Yoshida, who will compete alongside 11 other riders from around the world and Korea for the event.
Six countries – Turkey, Ireland, South Africa, Singapore, Japan, and Macau -- will be represented by the six riders from overseas in addition to six riders from the host country in the four races – two each held on Saturday and Sunday – and all run on a sand surface.
Riders will be vying for a grand prize of US$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.
Riding in addition to Yoshida on the international team will be:
-- Ben Curtis, 23, is a former Irish champion apprentice and will be representing Ireland in the challenge. An American citizen, Curtis has also ridden in the U.S. and U.K. He has over 120 wins from some 1,800 rides.
-- Manoel Nunes da Silva, 36, who hails from Brazil, will ride for Macau. After receiving his jockey license in 1996, he has ridden in Brazil, Argentina, Mauritius and Dubai. He has now ridden in Asia for nearly a decade and won numerous stakes races in Macau. Da Silva has nearly 1,300 wins to his name in nearly 8,000 rides, with over 700 wins in Macau alone.
-- Singapore's Khoon Beng Soo, 37, was champion jockey in his country in 2005 and has over 500 wins from just over 4,000 rides.
-- South Africa's Karis Teetan, 22, was born in Mauritius and now rides mainly in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. He his having his best season yet this year, highlighted by a win of the Cape Derby earlier this year, three weeks after he won his first G1 race.
-- Turkey's Ozcan Yildirim, 27, has tallied over 740 wins in nearly 7,500 rides. This past year alone he has won 28 graded races in Turkey, 72 wins this season.
The Korean team is especially strong this year with champion jockey Moon Se Young captaining and Kim Hae Sun taking part as the first female rider to represent Korea in the challenge. Other Korean riders are Cho Kyoung Ho, Park Tae Jong, Jo In Kwen, and Ham Wan Sik.
The 28-year-old Yoshida is a freelance flat rider based at Miho Training Center in eastern Japan and is the younger brother of fellow JRA jockey, Yutaka Yoshida. A local born in Ibaraki Prefecture, Yoshida received his riding license in 2004 and, despite a slow start, worked his way to a 60-win year just two years later. Last year saw him with a personal best 80 wins and this year has him with 52 firsts, 56 seconds and 50 thirds so far, which puts him in the No. 9 slot for all JRA jockeys. Yoshida has won six graded races, including the G2 Copa Republica Argentina in 2009 aboard Miyabi Ranveli. The same year, Yoshida was recognized for his exemplary riding with the JRA Fair Play award.
In the KRA jockey invitational, Yoshida has four rides and his chances of tallying points look best with the first two races. On Saturday, the challenge's first leg is the ninth race on the card and is set to be run at 7:20 p.m. local time. A 1,400-meter handicap, Yoshida has the weight advantage. His mount is a 4-year-old filly named Prete Ingran sired by Japan-bred Ingrandire. She has had two wins in 23 starts and her last win, on March 17, was at 1,400 meters. She will be carrying 54 kg, 4 kg less than the top weight and will, with luck, be able to use it to her advantage.
The next race of the day is the second leg of the jockey event and run over 1,800 meters. Also a handicap, Yoshida's mount, with 55 kg, has a 3-kg advantage over the horse with the top weight. Yoshida will be riding Bon Rising, a 5-year-old bred in Korea and sired by Volponi. He has had 31 starts and finished in the money in 12 of them, with two wins. His last win came in October of last year over 1,800 meters. He finished third last time out on July 8 over a distance of 1,900 meters.
On Sunday, the sixth race of the day is the third leg for the invitational. It is scheduled for 4:50 p.m. and is run over 1,400 meters. Yoshida is paired with Paxko, a 4-year-old gelding bred in Korea and sired by the Japan-bred Shinko Singular. Paxko has won three races in 21 outings. His last win came seven races ago in November. His recent form has been poor, so with pressure off to perform, Yoshida may be able to turn the tables.
The last race of the jockey event is the Sunday ninth race. A 1,900-meter handicap scheduled for 7:35 p.m., Yoshida is aboard a 5-year-old American-bred mare by the name of Yongsan Hwangnyong. A daughter of Milwaukee Brew, she has only won once in 23 starts, but has also notched two seconds and three thirds. Her past performances, unfortunately, indicate she is better suited to short distances.
Last year's challenge was won by Turkish rider Ahmet Celik. In earlier years, Japanese riders have participated regularly since the invitational's inauguration. Past riders from 2005 on up include: Eiji Nakadate, Takanori Kikuzawa, Kunihiko Watanabe, Issei Murata, Tetsuya Kobayashi, Shu Ishibashi, and Yoshihiro Furukawa.
Seoul Race Park is located next to Seoul Grand Park in the southern Seoul suburb of Gwachon and can be reached by subway. Races are held on an oval-shaped track with a sand surface and a 450-meter home straight. The track can accommodate some 80,000 people and has two main grandstands.
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