Seoul freezes in sub-zero conditions / Serendipper upset / Cheongha Eutteum returns with win
Machine Gun continued his strong run of late season form in the feature race at an almost unbearably cold Seoul Race Park this afternoon. With the “highest” temperature reading of the afternoon at -4 and a breeze worsening the conditions, it was a day for punters to stay in the warmth of the grandstands and pity the jockeys outside.
Machine Gun, a six year old gelding, has had an indifferent career since reaching the top level back in early 2006. It took over two years for him to take a category 1 race, finally achieving it in August this year. Today, he racked up his third in four outings. Starting the 1.7 favourite and top weight, Moon Se Young kept Machine Gun just behind the leaders for much of the 2000 metre race. He asked for an effort as the hit the home straight and they pulled away for a four length win from second favourite and early pace-setter Sound Hawk. Machine Gun still only has a record of eight victories from 35 starts but the late bloomer has confirmed himself as one of the top handicappers in Korea right now.
Thirty minutes earlier, Mupae Jilju caused an upset in the big race for foreign bred horses. Serendipper was sent off the 1.4 favourite of an underwhelming field but, in a final furlong battle, New Zealand bred Mupae Jilju held off the Australian filly to score a half length victory.
Much earlier in the day, there had been an impressive win for Cheongha Eutteum. The two year old made his debut with a win way back in May but has been injured ever since. Stepping up in class on his return, the colt went off at an unfancied 14.0 with Suseong Equus the 1.3 favourite in the 1200 metre race 2. There wasn’t much of a race, however, as Cheongha Eutteum bolted out of the gate and never came close to being caught, eventually winning by seven lengths on the line. He’s going to be another one to watch carefully over the next few months.
On a day where it was impossible not to have both sympathy and respect for the jockeys, Moon Se Young – certain to be 2008 champion – landed a treble and Park Tae Jong a double. Mercifully, it will be slightly warmer tomorrow with temperatures set to be slightly the right side of freezing for the Herald 2YO race. However, that will bring its own hazards as there is an outside chance of snow. Meanwhile, it’s Owners’ Cup day at Busan. As usual, the southern city was much warmer than Seoul today and temperatures should be a comfortable 6 above tomorrow.