Racing

Get set for some Moon-style riding

South Korean champion on three-month Kranji stint

Moon Se Young is finally in town.

And no, he's not the latest K-Pop sensation here to spark mass hysteria among the ladies at Kallang. This one has his stage at Kranji.

He is also slightly shorter but not any smaller in stature - and if he scores, it will be more with the uncles than the aunties.

Moon is a jockey, and not any jockey from the Land of the Morning Calm, Hyundai and kimchi. He is their eight-time champion jockey (2008, 2010 to 2016).

As famous as a Joao Moreira in Hong Kong for instance, or Yutaka Take in Japan or Ryan Moore in England, the 35-year-old South Korean was granted a three-month licence by the Singapore Turf Club back in February.

Since work permits take a month of Sundays to get ironed out these days, you know it's sorted when, from a mile away, you spot a new person of slight build walking around in plainclothes, looking all wide-eyed, weary and a little lost.

Moon was first spotted on Tuesday morning at Kranji along with his wife Kim Ryeo Jin (a racing TV presenter in Seoul), ex-Kranji now Seoul-based trainer Brian Dean and his interpreter Nell Lee.

One thing that struck the most about the 1,400-odd race winner (including six at Group level) was his confidence.

"I came to Singapore because I wanted a new challenge. I've been riding in Korea for a long time and have achieved a lot there, and it was time to try something new," said Moon. "For a start, I got three months. If things work out, I would like to extend my stay here.

INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCE

"I've ridden in Macau where I had seven winners from 60 rides. I also rode in Malaysia and Japan at invitational races, but I want more international experience and so it is now Singapore.

"While Singaporeans get to see Korean races, we don't get to see Singapore races but I do follow on the Internet what is happening. Of course, Brian (Dean) has spoken to me about the racing here I know some of the jockeys here like Manoel Nunes and Benny Woodworth, but that's about it."

Korea is one of the emerging racing nations in this part of the world but, for outsiders, most remember it for one idiosyncrasy - its deep sand track, at both Seoul and Busan.

Can we therefore expect Moon to be more at home on Polytrack? He rubbishes the idea straightaway.

"It's true we race only on sand in Korea, but I've ridden on turf overseas. It's not a problem for me," he said.

"Besides, we race in the same anti-clockwise direction as Kranji. Other than that, I'm really looking forward to my next three months riding here."

Aware that Singaporeans are more exposed to Australian, South African and European jockeys, Moon said to expect his own brand of riding in months to come - and it is not Gangnam style.

"I like Japanese jockey Masayoshi Ebina and I do watch Joao Moreira a lot," he said.

"But I don't copy them. I have my own style - Moon style."