A familiar face will be in action on Saturday as jockey Masakazu Tanaka returns to Korea to take up an initial four-month engagement at Seoul Racecourse.
Now 34, Tanaka, who has spent the majority of his career riding in New Zealand, joined Busan Racecourse in June of 2013 and returned solid results, riding 24 winners in his first seven months up to the end of that year.
2014 was challenging for the Japanese rider, but Tanaka still emerged with 29 winners from 330 rides. It would be in 2015, however, when his persistence paid off and he became acknowledged as one of the top jockeys in the country. He rode 49 winners that season, taking him to 5th place in the jockey championship.
Although he couldn’t secure a Stakes race victory, he landed a 3rd place on New York Blue in the Asia Challenge Cup in 2014 and the following year another 3rd, on Ildeung Hanghaesa in the President’s Cup, at that time Korea’s joint-richest race. He left Busan having ridden 101 winners from 907 rides and returned to New Zealand where he has been riding since.
Tanaka, who this time will be based in Seoul, has four rides in the capital on Saturday but the odds are against him making an immediate winning return although some of the other foreign jockeys at the track should be in the winner’s circle at some stage with Johan Victoire, Manoel Nunes and Antonio Da Silva all on plenty of live mounts.
The day’s feature is a class 2 handicap over 1800M (race 10). Samjung Tapit, Thunder Light and Tosconova Cat, who came home 2nd, 4th and 6th respectively in last month’s TJK Trophy will be among the favourites in an ultra-competitive eleven-runner race.
There are 11 races at Seoul on Saturday with the 1st at 2pm and the last 9pm local Korea time.
Masakazu Tanaka, picture Korea Racing Authority