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Taking the homegrown Approach with jockey Lee Hyo Sik
Michael Lee

While perennial Busan champion trainer Kim Young Kwan has plumped for seasoned expat jockeys for his two contenders in Sunday’s $250,000 Korea Racing Authority Trophy (1200m), the trainer of the third runner is taking a leap of faith with a young local rider.


Well-travelled jockeys Fergus Sweeney, 40, who rides Gakbyeolhan, and Franco Da Silva, 39, who rides Today, have around 1,500 winners, several at Group level, and 15 countries ridden at between them.


Lee Hyo Sik is only 22, just came out of his time last month and has never ventured beyond the Busan sand track in his fledgling two-year-old riding career, other than a short stint honing his craft in Australia with trainer Sue Grills at Armidale.

Young Busan jockey Lee Hyo Sik only began riding two years ago, and now takes his first overseas
mission aboard Approach in the Korea Racing Authority Trophy (1200m) at Kranji on Sunday.

Yet, despite his relative inexperience, Approach’s trainer Kim Nam Jung, is giving Lee a chance at a first overseas ride (as a senior jockey) at only his second season, and barely a month after graduating to the senior ranks. After all, he’s the last jockey to have won on Approach (May 6), a Korean-bred five-year-old by Brazilian sire Pico Central and eight-time winner in Busan, the last four coming over 1800m.


Looking at the wisp of a young man he is at 48kgs - with a baby face to boot - how he overpowers beasts weighing 10 times more than him beggars belief.


But the records are there to show that Lee, who does not hail from a racing family and left high school to become a jockey, already has 92 winners (in 693 rides) under the belt.


Such a haul could make him champion apprentice jockey material here. For example, former two-time Singapore champion apprentice jockey A’Isisuhairi Kasim bagged 108 winners at his two premiership-winning seasons in 2013 and 2014.


The youthful rider has yet to win any silverware, but seems to be well put-together and not too overawed by the occasion.


“I lost my claim when I won 40 races and only became a senior jockey last month,” said Lee who speaks basic English.


“I haven’t won any Group race yet, but I finished second in a Group 2 race once.


“Nobody in my family is in racing, but they are happy and proud now. They come to the races to cheer me on as well as my friends.


“It’s an honour to ride Approach in Singapore for Mr Kim. I’m very happy to be here; the track and facilities at Kranji are very good.


“I know the horse well, I rode him at his last win. He has worked well, his action on the Polytrack is quite good, and I can only hope for a good run on Sunday.”


Unlike his Busan colleagues Sweeney (three outside rides) and Da Silva (two outside rides), Lee has not been booked on other horses on Sunday’s undercard.