When it comes to horse racing in South Korea, the country is taking a different approach. At the moment, the sport is going through a process of internationalization as it aims to bring top jockeys from overseas as well as South Korean trainers together with Korean runners to take part in many meetings that are taking place abroad.

The Overall Plan

As it currently stands, thoroughbred racing is massive. So, the aim is to make the process of internationalization and use it to show that horse racing is a sport and not just about looking for the latest racing odds today before each race. The goal of the Korean Racing Authority (KRA) is to hold some of the largest racing events in the world. The plan is certainly a long-term one but it aims to develop the Korea Cup and Korea Spring, both of which are worth a lot of money, with the value set to increase by the middle of 2022.

A Leading Sport

It is now being seen that horse racing is actually more popular than other sports and this includes baseball and the domestic football league. While internationalization is vital, measuring its success can be difficult. Therefore, it might be more about the quality than what it is worth.

Bringing the Leading Horses

There has still not been a US-trained horse that has performed in South Korea but this will likely happen soon – as soon as the Korean Cup in September.

The goal is to raise standards by inviting the worlds’ best horses to race against Korean-bred horses and there is interest around this as well as the right infrastructure.

There are three main venues in South Korea and across all three, attendances have collectively exceeded 15 million in recent years.

As it currently stands, domestic horse racing has a turnover of 6.4 billion dollars annually, putting it at number 7 in the world of horse racing but things are going to improve.

The racing surface consists of sand and that is turning many top horses away but the introduction of a turf track at Seoul Racecourse will hopefully change everything.

It Works Both Ways

The KRA is not just about bringing the best horses to South Korea but also wants Korean-bred horses to race overseas. Recently, five South Korean horses raced in the Dubai World Cup Carnival with more horses set to race in other big races on a global scale. In fact, South Korean-bred horses have started to win on the international stage. This gave the KRA the impetus to begin developing the race quality.

The KRA wants to continue sending horses overseas, despite the Covid-19 pandemic slowing down any progress in recent years. The goal is for horses to race on all-weather tracks in Asia, Europe, and also the United States. South Korea is still a long way behind other countries but progress is being made and at a good speed if the recent progress is anything to go by.

This has been driven by a passion not only for horse racing but also how sports fans love supporting Korean stars overseas. This includes the likes of Son Heung-Min who plays football in the Premier League along with baseball players currently playing in the United States. There is a hope that this passion for homegrown talent playing overseas will translate into Korean horse racing, which means that they will support horses overseas and domestically.

The Future

The KRA is looking at new ways in which it can reach a wider audience. Traditionally, horse racing has been enjoyed by older people of which most are male, while many consider the sport as only being there for betting purposes. However, the KRA is looking to change things by helping the sport to appeal to a younger audience and females. As a result, a theme park has been built at Seoul Racecourse where it has hosted live music to attract a more diverse audience.

The theme park is known as Whinny World and aims to deliver an immersive experience, helping to encourage and educate more people about the world of Horse Racing in Korea. Here, visitors can ride racing simulation machines, ride ponies, and show people just how much fun horse racing can be. Up to this point, horse racing was not perceived to be exciting or enjoyable but that is now changing as more people begin to show an interest in the sport.