Alan Munro winner could open doors for New Zealand in Korea

Mighty New (outside), a winner on debut in Seoul last Sunday, breezing at the NZB Ready To Run Sale. Photo: Trish Dunell

A 2-year-old winner for Epsom Derby-winning jockey Alan Munro in Seoul last weekend may pave the way for an influx of exports of New Zealand-breds to South Korea.

New Zealand-bred gelding Mighty New, an impressive Class 4 winner over 1200m at Seoul, was one of nine horses purchased by the Seoul Racehorse Owners’ Association at the 2019 New Zealand Bloodstock Ready To Run Sale. The son of Red Giant is prepared by progressive trainer Seo Hongsoo.

Bred and prepared for sale by Annabelle Johnson via the Westbury Stud draft, Mighty New took out the Class 4 for foreign-breds on debut, defeating fellow Ready To Run Sale graduate Geomison.

“We thought he’d be there,” said the globetrotting Munro. “He had been training really well. He’s a nice type and he is quite impressive in the morning. Mighty New has a great attitude and is a really well-mannered horse. He raced professionally and showed a lot of ability. We are thinking he is quite a nice type. He is only two, so he has got it all ahead.”

Munro also praised the training of Seo. “He is a good trainer that is patient with his horses,” he said. “We box-seated the other day and the horse is good in the kick-back, he ran through it nicely and as soon as he got an opening he lengthened. 

“Mighty New is tall and lean with a good athletic look about him and he will be beautiful next year. He could easily go through the grades.”

The 53-year-old Munro, who won the Derby, Irish Derby and King George in 1991 on Generous, has plied his trade in numerous racing jurisdictions around the world, including a short stint in New Zealand in 2005. He said he is enjoying his time in South Korea and is impressed by the racing set-up and sound financial model. 

“I’m just starting my second year,” he said. “We have had four months off with the coronavirus hold-up, but I love the way they do things here. Racing has just started with no patrons on course at this stage, which the horses seem to appreciate. 

“I am a fan of Korean racing. It is a great racing place.”

New Zealand Foreign Affairs and Racing Minister Winston Peters said he hoped the strong showing from the NZ-breds would trigger a surge in Korean interest for New Zealand horses.

“Horse racing is big business in Korea, and New Zealand’s horses have traditionally been rare on Korea’s sand tracks,” Peters said. “But this strong showing has fuelled serious interest in our breeding operations and stock.”

The Minister witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Arrangement between New Zealand and the Korean Racing Authority when he visited Seoul last November. The eight percent tariff rate on ‘Horses for Racing’ was also eliminated in 2019 under the Korea-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement.

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