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Tan Thean Loon
Monday, Aug 11, 2014

Sports

Korea racing gains ground

The New Paper | Tan Thean Loon | Monday, Aug 11, 2014

Since the successful simulcast of the 32nd Korean Grand Prix last December, the co-operation between the Singapore Turf Club (STC) and the Korea Racing Authority (KRA) has gathered momentum in double-quick time.

On June 21, the first of of six selected Korea meetings from Seoul and Busan were introduced to racegoers, making Singapore the first racing jurisdiction in the world to simulcast races from Korea.

Due to its popularity, five more meetings have been added, taking its run to Oct 25. Looking at the quick developments, more could be in the pipeline.

Earlier this week, another milestone was achieved when the KRA invited three Singapore horses to its first international invitation race in Seoul on Aug 31.

The Kranji equine trio - Trudeau, El Padrino and Speedy Cat - will compete against three Japanese horses and eight from Korea in the 300 million won ($360,000) Asia Challenge Cup, a race over 1,400m on the sand track at the Seoul Racecourse.

This will surely add more glamour and interest to the already-popular racing action from Korea.

The STC said that its customers' response "has been very encouraging, given this is a very new product here".

Its feedback ranged from "excited about having Korea races" to "races are interesting and reliable".

ABOUT KOREA RACING

Korea has three sand-track racecourses but thoroughbred racing is staged only in Seoul and Busan. The one in Jeju caters only to ponies.

Racing is held all year round. Seoul hosts the races on weekends with a card of 11 to 12 each day. Busan's races are held on Fridays (nine to 10 races) and Sundays (six races, with simulcast from Seoul).

The sport is popular with the Koreans, with the average attendance in Seoul at about 34,000 and Busan 10,000.

The average turnover per race is a healthy 4.3 billion won. Last year's turnover was a staggering 7,704 billion won.

Of the six betting types provided by the KRA, the quinella or forecast is the most popular, accounting for 50 per cent of the total bets.

The other bet types are the win, place, exacta (first two horses in the right order), quinella place and trio.

The majority of the horses in Korea are domestically-bred. The country has about 110 stallions and 2,500 broodmares.

The KRA said that of the foreign-bred horses, America is its largest exporter, with 343 of the 389 horses imported last year. The rest are from Australia (36) and Japan (10).

The horse population in Korea is 1,420 in Seoul (about the same as Singapore) and 980 in Busan.

Korea exports a small number of its horses each year. Last year, all six exports went to America.

In 2011, three Korean-bred horses found their way to Malaysia, where K-Pop has since won three races from 15 starts. Another three arrived in 2012.

A Korean-bred, Watts Village, has also made his mark in Japan, winning the second leg of the Japan-Korea Interaction Cup on Nov 26 last year.

loon@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Aug 9, 2014.
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