Sunday Seoul & Busan: Race-By-Race Preview (February 26)

Grand Prix winner Clean Up Joy, who downed both Triple Nine and Power Blade at Seoul in December, will make his seasonal debut in the capital on Sunday afternoon. Meanwhile last year’s Meydan Hero Success Story looks to have winning chances at Busan. 11 races at Seoul from 10:40 to 18:00. There are 6 at Busan from 12:35 to 17:00.

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Clean Up Joy won the Grand Prix Stakes in 2016

English race cards are here. Read on for notes on every horse on the cards (except Busan race 1 which is the only race not being simulcast overseas):

Seoul Race 1: Class 6 / 1000M / Allowance / KRW 40 Million

1. TAEHUI NALGAE – 3rd on debut, 2nd last time, should go one better.

2. SUPER FLY – Didn’t do much on debut. Can improve today.

3. URIUI HAENGBOK – Two 3rds and a 4th among four outings. In the frame. (more…)

Busan Friday: Race-By-Race Preview (February 24)

There used to be a saying among certain Korean punters that at Seoul you bet the jockeys while at Busan you bet the trainers. As we head into this weekend (11 races at Busan on Friday from 11:30 to 18:00), that may not be the case anymore.

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Yonekura Satoshi is one of a number of in-form jockeys at Busan right now (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Of course, it’s probably best to bet the numbers (although my own personal strategy used to be to bet whichever one had a funny sounding name) but there was an element of truth in it; the top trainers were at Busan while the top Korean jockeys were at Seoul.

The top trainers are still at Busan in the shape of Kim Young Kwan, Peter Wolsley, Bart Rice and Thomas Gillespie but increasingly the jockeys are too and the news that Moon Se Young is Singapore-bound further drains the Seoul talent-pool which lost Jo In Kwen, Jo Sung Gon and Ham Wan Sik – all capable Korean jockeys – to the south coast at the start of the year. That’s all to Busan’s benefit.

With Yonekura Satoshi in superb form and newcomers Marios Mina and Andrea Mezzatesta getting off the mark last week while Darryll Holland continues to do what Darryll Holland does, the Busan weighing room is as competitive as it has ever been. With the exception of Jo, all will be in action on Friday. English race cards are here, notes on races scheduled for overseas simulcast are below:

Race 4: Class 6 / 1600M / Handicap / KRW 22 Million 

1. HAPPY LIGHT – Beaten few in five outings. First time at a mile and needs to show more.

2. VICTORY DAY – Three figure odds for all five starts and a long shot here too.

3. GOLDEN BULLET – Much improved 4th on first try at distance and a contender today. (more…)

Korean Champion Jockey Moon Se Young Granted Singapore License

The Singapore Turf Club has announced that eight-time Korean Champion jockey Moon Se Young has been granted a three-month visiting jockey’s license to ride at Kranji.

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Kranji-bound: Moon Se Young (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Now 36, Moon debuted in 2001 and upon returning from national service, won his first Championship in 2008. Injury prevented him from repeating the feat in 2009 but in each subsequent year he has ended the season as Seoul’s Champion jockey, partnering more than 100 winners every time.

Moon rode his first Listed race winner in 2003 and his first Korean Group winner in 2004. He won Korea’s most prestigious race, the Grand Prix Stakes on Bally Brae in 2007 and the Korean Derby on Jigeum I Sungan in 2012. In total he has ridden more than 1300 winners and is only the second Korean jockey to surpass more than 1000.

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Moon Se Young being greeted by the female members of the weighing room after his 1000th winner career winner

A brief suspension and a trip to Macau (where he rode for a short time in 2012/2013) for a Jockey Challenge meant Moon had made an uncharacteristically slow start to 2017, however, he roared back into form this past weekend winning the last four races on Sunday’s card at Seoul including his 3rd Donga Ilbo Cup win. That came on Meni Money, whose dam Pocketful Of Money, Moon partnered to win the KRA Cup Classic in 2007.

While the presence of Djordje Perovic in the Seoul weighing room had at last presented him with some domestic competition, Moon has long harbored ambitions to test himself in superior riding company. Additionally, with Busan-trained horses dominating the major races in Korea in recent years (internal Jockey Union rules prevent Seoul jockeys riding Busan horses and vice-versa), Moon’s opportunities in the very biggest races have been limited, leading him to look elsewhere for a new challenge.

Moon Se Young will relocate to Kranji for an initial 3-month period as soon as his work permit is issued.

 

Meni Money Downs Pinot Noir In Donga Ilbo

Last year’s winner Pinot Noir put up a valiant defence of her Donga Ilbo crown but ultimately was to be denied as Meni Money came home in front  in Seoul’s second Listed Race of 2017.

With the well-fancied Touch Flying found lame and declared a non-runner less than an hour before the race, it was Meni Money who was sent off as favourite and she was kept handy by champion jockey Moon Se Young in the early stages. Meanwhile, Park Hyun Woo on Pinot Noir employed the now 7-year-old mare’s familiar tactics of dropping to the rear on leaving the gate before going wide around the field in the back straight to take the lead.

Pinot Noir would lead into the straight but Meni Money came alongside with a furlong to go and ran on to prevail by just under a length and a half. Argo Champ ran on well for 3rd.

Meni Money [Menifee-Pocketful Of Money (Running Stag)] is out of a dam who for a number of years held the track record at today’s distance of 1800M. She won five and was runner-up in five of her first ten career starts, including 2nd place in the Korean Oaks in 2015. However, since then she had only added a further two victories prior to today. Her previous biggest victory came in the 2015 Sports Seoul Cup.

Donga Ilbo Cup (Listed) – Seoul Racecourse – 1800M – Feb 19, 2017

1. Meni Money (KOR) [Menifee – Pocketful Of Money (Running Stag)] – Moon Se Young – 2.3, 1.2
2. Pinot Noir (KOR) [Capital Spending – Neungnyeokchungman (Pacificbounty)] – Park Hyun Woo – 1.6
3. Argo Champ (KOR) [Menifee – Doo Dah Day (Woodman)] – Djordje Perovic – 2.1
Distances: 1.25 lengths / 3 lengths – 9 ran

The win was one of five on the day for defending champion jockey Moon Se Young. Earlier, he won on Lion Rock (Ecton Park), a three year-old “full” brother to reigning Horse of the Year Triple Nine. Lion Rock moved to three from three with a facile victory in the 1700M race 8.

Two unbeaten records came to an end at Busan though. American Power (Ecton Park) didn’t travel especially well on his first try at a mile and gave himself too much to do in race 5, ending up in 2nd place. A race later, US import Drop The Beat (Mad Flatter) also went down to his first defeat.

Those defeats were in contrast to the showing a day earlier by Final Boss (Menifee). The champion juvenile of 2016 barely required second gear to maintain his winning streak over 1800M at Seoul:

Seoul Sunday: Donga-Ilbo Cup – Full Preview

Last year in the snow, Pint Noir won the Donga Ilbo Cup just before another blizzard forced racing to be abandoned for the day. There should be no weather issues this time around as she returns to defend her title against nine rivals over 1800M.

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Pinot Noir in a snowy Donga Ilbo Cup winner’s circle last year

She probably won’t be favourite, with the likes of Meni Money and Touch Flying among a competitive field in the Donga. There’s plenty going on elsewhere as well with a total of 11 races at Seoul from 10:40 to 18:00 and 6 at Busan from 12:35 to 17:05.

English race cards are here. Notes on the three overseas simulcast races, including the Donga Ilbo Cup are below:

Race 8: Class 5 / 1700M / Handicap / KRW 40 Million

1. LION ROCK – Full brother to Triple Nine who is currently racing at the Dubai World Cup Carnival. Two for two so far and favourite to maintain his 100% record today. (more…)

Seoul Saturday: Race-By-Race Preview (February 18)

Last year’s champion juvenile Final Boss is on show on a big day of racing Seoul on Saturday. There are 12 races from 10:40 to 18:00.

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Choegang Schiller won the Asia Challenge Cup in 2015. He returns to action at Seoul on Saturday (Pic: Ross Holburt)

English race cards can be found here. Notes on races to be simulcast overseas are below:

Race 5: Class 5 / 1000M / Handicap / KRW 40 Million / 13:40 

1. UBIQUITOUS – Laboured in two starts since returning from five months out. Drop back to 1000M may benefit.

2. PERFECT BIC C – Defied lengthy odds to land back-to-back place finishes at class and distance and needs to be respected here. (more…)

Mina & Mezzatesta Notch First Busan Winners

It was a good start to the weekend for both Marios Mina and Andrea Mezzatesta as the visiting jockeys both partnered their first Korean winners at Busan on Friday afternoon.

Cypriot rider Mina went first, guiding 13/1 shot Jilju Daejang to victory by a nose in race 3. His Italian counterpart, Mezzatesta would strike one race later as 6/1 chance Coming Again obliged in race 4.

Mina and Mezzatesta are among five overseas jockeys currently licensed in Busan. The ther others are Britain’s Darryll Holland, Japan’s Yonekura Satoshi and Italian Mirko Sanna.