Nice Choice and Yeonseung Daero-shaped holes
Let’s first get who’s not going to be there out of the way, so that when we have the final preview next week, we can focus on those who will be taking part in the race that traditionally brings the curtain down (for a few days anyway) on the Korean racing season.
Racing fans had their vote and the KRA sent out the invitations accordingly but, in the year that the inclusion of Busan horses makes the Grand Prix truly the test to find the peninsula’s top horse, a number of those who should be there won’t be.
Nice Choice was second in the poll, but he won’t be there. Neither will Areumdaun Jilju, Yeonseung Daero or Sangseung Ilro from Busan. The former two will run in the Busan Owner’s Cup on December 6, while Sangseung Ilro’s legs are not up to the rigours of 2300 metres around Seoul in winter.
Yeonseung Daero’s absence may be felt the most. Sent off favourite in the KRA Cup Mile and highly fancied for the Derby, he missed out both times but there are strong suspicions that he may be on the verge of producing something special – many punters felt that he had Choi Beom Hyun been riding him, rather than Bulpae Gisang in the Busan Metropolitan last month, the result would have been different.
Those who will skip the event may be forgiven, however. Dongbanui Gangja has been in imperious form this year. Six runs, six wins. He’s a closer rather than a front-runner and that usually leads to butterflies but he has swatted away all comers this year in dismissive fashion. Stepping back up to 2300 metres is unliklely to faze him and it is difficult to see him being beaten.
Bally Brae is back to try. A winner once and second twice, he landed a couple of win earlier in the year but has suffered recently. There was speculation that he might be given a long break but the lure of the Grand Prix has proved too much for his connections. As ever, he will give his all and if he pulls it off, there won;t be a dry eye in the house (…maybe). Of the Seoul contingent though, Dongbanui Gangja’s stablemate, Bulpae Gisang, Busan Metropolitan winner, may be his greatest danger.
From Busan, Gaeseon Janggun, winner of the 2008 Minister’s Cup will fly the flag for Korea while Crafty Louis and King Kephalos are both solid performers. Haengbok Dream has potential while Rolling On Strong is set to be the only filly or mare in the race.
Here’s the full list of confirmed entries so far (Name/Pedigree/Sex/Age/Record):
Yaho TS (USA) [Roar Of The Tiger – Propeller (Lear Fan)] C – 3 (15/4/1/1)
Bally Brae (USA) [Yarrow Brae – Political Bluff (Unaccounted For)] G – 7 (31/15/10/1)
Ugildongja (KOR) [Dixie Dot Com – May Roses (Incinderator)] H – 5 (32/10/5/1)
Dongbanui Gangja (USA) [Broken Vow – Maremaid (Storm Bird)] C – 4 (21/14/4/2)
Bulpae Gisang (USA) [Lightnin N Thunder – Neat Trick (Clever Trick)] C – 3 (12/7/2/0)
Haengbok Dream (JPN) [Lammtarra – Sister Slew (Slew The Dragon)] C – 3 (11/4/4/2)
King Kephalos (JPN) [King Glorious – Western Edge (Woodman)] G – 4 (19/8/3/3)
Gaeseon Janggun (KOR) [Duality – Diamond Star (Dixieland Band)] C – 4 (18/9/4/1)
Rolling On Strong (USA) [Werblin – Gracie Gale (Opening Verse)] F – 3 (12/4/1/3)
Crafty Louis (USA) [Louis Quatorze – Crafty Atlantic (Crafty Prospector)] G – 6 (34/13/4/2)
Here’s Dongbanui Gangja winning last year from Bally Brae in second and Myeongmun Gamun in third: