Kozzi Korea bound

New Zealand jockey Kozzi Asano is set to take an exciting next step in his career when he heads to South Korea in the coming months to take up a riding contract with the Korean Racing Authority (KRA).

“I have got a license granted to go over and ride in Korea, but I am undecided how long I will go for,” Asano said.

“The prizemoney in New Zealand is going up at the moment but I also wanted to experience overseas, so I am looking forward to it.”

The 29-year-old Japanese native has been riding in New Zealand for eight seasons, posting 335 wins, 20 of those at stakes level, and earned more than $9.3 million in prizemoney.

During his time in New Zealand, Asano struck up a good friendship with compatriot and former New Zealand jockey Masa Tanaka, who urged Asano to join him in South Korea.

“Masa Tanaka is a good friend of mine and he is over there,” Asano said. “I am always chatting with him and he mentioned that there might be a (jockey) position available (in South Korea).”

Asano has yet to visit South Korea, but said he is looking forward to riding in the Asian racing jurisdiction. He will base himself in Seoul and said one of the biggest upsides in the move is the reduced travel required in comparison to New Zealand.

“I haven’t been there, I have only watched them (Korean racing) on Trackside, and I have watched a lot in the last two months or so,” he said.

“I am going to base myself in Seoul. There are only two or three tracks in Korea, so there is no travelling compared to New Zealand.

“I do appreciate the opportunity. I will see how it goes, but I can always come back.”

Asano will leave New Zealand later this month with his wife, Adele, and five-month-old son, and spend some time in his homeland with friends and family before they make their move to Korea.

“I am going to have a holiday in Japan later this month,” he said. “I haven’t been home for seven years so it will be good to catch up with my friends.”

Asano has recorded 64 wins this term and is hoping to add to that tally before he heads offshore.

“I am satisfied that I have ridden more winners than last season,” he said. “I have had support from a lot of stables. I am doing my best and travelling as much as I can.”

As for his offshore move, Asano is excited about what awaits him in South Korea.

“I don’t know what to expect, but it will be a great experience,” he said. 

Kozzi Asano, picture Race Images