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Posted : 2013-05-12 17:14
Updated : 2013-05-12 17:14

Exports of racehorses likely to gain impetus

Many municipal governments are trying to export racehorses which have become a source of income and prestige. Korea Times file

'K-pop' wins championship in Malaysia


By Park Si-soo

A Korea-born racehorse exported to Malaysia became champion in a race there on May 4, the first event of this kind that could lead to rising demand for domestic horses in the Southeastern Asian country.

The racehorse, named K-pop, got off to a decent start in a 1,700-meter race held at Penang Turf Club and crossed the finish line with a time of 1 minute 44.2 seconds, according to the Korea Racing Authority (KRA), the animal's previous owner.

The horse managed to keep the second or third place during most of the race but outran its rivals with the finish line only 200 meters away to win, the KRA said.

K-pop was born in 2009 on Jeju Island and exported to Malaysia in 2011. Its father is Bika, a U.S.-born racehorse with multiple winning experiences, which the KRA imported to Korea in 2006 as part of effort to breed quality horses at home.

"This is the biggest achievement we have had since the beginning of exports of racehorses in 2010," said Lee Joong-ho, a KRA director in charge of the horse industry planning. "We will do our best to export the second and third K-pop. To that end, we will continue to improve our breeding system and technologies. Plus, we are considering offering financial assistance to those with proven skills to breed high-quality horses."

Korea-born racehorse ‘K-pop' is taken out of a stall in this 2011 photo before it was exported to Malaysia. / Courtesy of Korea Racing Authority


The KRA has exported nine racehorses to Malaysia ― three in 2011 and six last year. The firm is scheduled to send two breeding horses to Macao this month.

The price of racehorses and breeding horses depends on their performances. One of the most expensive racehorses may be Frankel, a British thoroughbred that has been unbeaten in his 14-race career and the highest-rated racehorse in the world since May 2011. Its value is estimated at 182.5 billion won ($164 million), according to news reports.

Experts say K-pop's win has played a "crucial" role in increasing the demand for Korean horses in overseas markets.

"It has more meaning than just the first victory," a KRA official said. "It has proved that Korea-born horses are competitive enough in overseas markets. I believe this will help increase domestic horses' market value as well as demand for them from abroad."

The official said K-pop is only four so has a huge potential to secure additional wins in the near future. The KRA is trying to diversify its overseas customer base by taking advantage of K-pop's performance.

"Currently our customers are concentrated in Southeast Asian counties. We will soon knock the door of the United States and China."

Eager to seek profitability through racehorse exports, a growing number of municipal governments have joined the business. Jeju Island is particularly enthusiastic. Its government spent 334 million won last year to facilitate exports of racehorses from the island.

As of the end of 2011, 2,477 racehorses were bred at 220 stock farms across the country. Nearly 80 percent of them are raised on Jeju, according to the KRA.



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