Meanwhile in … South Korea: Kim Hye Sun rides first winner after maternity leave

Horse Racing Kim Hye Sun jockey
Kim Hye Sun, South Korea’s leading female jockey, celebrates her first winner since having a baby. Photo: KRA

South Korea: While Rachael Blackmore smashed the glass ceiling for female jockeys by winning the Grand National, Kim Hye Sun is showing that becoming a mother need not end a career in the saddle.

Kim, 32, is South Korea’s most successful female jockey, with 284 winners, and became the first woman to ride a Korean Classic winner when she took the 2017 Korean Oaks on Jeju Haneul.

Married to fellow jockey Park Jae-i, the rider nicknamed ‘Super Peanut’ took 20 months of maternity leave when she became pregnant, but returned this month to ride her first winner at Busan a week into her comeback.

Horse Racing Kim Hye Sun Park Jae-i jockeys
South Korea’s leading female jockey Kim Hye Sun is married to Park Jae-i. Photo: KRA

“I was quite anxious about coming back but as it got closer I realised it was more excitement than nerves,” she said, speaking to in-house broadcaster KRBC.

“Once I got back riding trackwork it didn’t feel like I had been away so long. I got used to it very quickly.

“People ask me about my body condition but there is nothing like riding a racehorse in the mornings to quickly get you back into shape – it’s better than any diet.

“Obviously racing isn’t normal at the moment [due to the Covid situation] but my first goal is to get to 300 winners and then take it from there.”

• Visit the Korea Racing Authority website

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