It's tough and competitive, says KB Soo

The prize money in Korea is comparable to Singapore's, enticing some top foreign jockeys to ride there, including English star Darryll Holland, Australia-licensed Japanese Kanichiro "Joe" Fujii, who have both ridden at Kranji, and Singapore's Soo Khoon Beng.

The prize money ranges from 30 million won ($36,000) for a Class 6 race to 600 million won for the domestic Group 1 Korean Derby.

Soo (above) rode for about four months in Busan in 2008. He kicked home five winners and a few placings from 34 rides.

"The racing there is tough and competitive. Both horses and riders have to be very fit. The pace is fast. You don't have time for a breather in the 1,000m to 1,200m races," said the Penang-born rider.

"This could be due to the track, which is deep, and you have to use a lot of strength. The sand is very coarse, and some horses don't like the kick-back.

"It was a good experience, but I had to cut short my stint because I missed my family and the weather was too cold for me."

Currently, Seoul has 59 jockeys (57 Koreans and two foreigners), headed by Moon Se Young (see table) and 54 trainers (all Koreans).

Busan has 39 jockeys (35 Koreans and four foreigners) and 34 trainers (31 Koreans and three foreigners).