Month: July 2010

Weekend Preview: Lighting Up Time

SBS & Busan Mayor’s Cups Headline Big Weekend

Twilight racing begins this weekend

The lights will be on at all three tracks this weekend as four weeks of “twilight” racing get underway. And Sunday especially is set to be a massive day with the SBS Cup at Seoul and the big showdown in Gyeongnam in the Busan Mayor’s Cup taking place within thirty minutes of each other just after 7pm.

The usual light shows and performances will be taking place over the four weekends of night racing, which are split by a two week break at the end of July and beginning of August. Here’s what’s happening this weekend:

Friday July 16

Busan Race Park: 11 races from 14:30 to 21:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 16:30 to 21:15

Saturday July 17

Seoul Race Park: 12 races from 14:30 to 21:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 16:30 to 21:10

Sunday July 18

Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 14:30 to 21:10
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 16:30 to 21:00

* Picture by letsbook

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Something’s Got To Give As Dongbanui Gangja Faces Tough Win

This really is the big one. Double Grand Prix winner Dongbanui Gangja, unbeaten in two years, puts everything on the line against the young challenger Tough Win, yet to be tested in seven starts. Alongside them, the supporting cast contains a number of horses rightly considered stars in their own right.

The Busan Mayor’s Cup is at Busan Race Park under the lights this coming Sunday evening and it is unquestionably, the biggest race in recent Korean history. We’ll have plenty more on it before Sunday. For now, here is the line-up in full (Name/Record/Jockey):

Busan Mayor’s Cup (G.III) – Busan Race Park – 2000M – July 18, 19:10

1. Purely Spontaneus (USA) (19/8/1/1) – Yang Young Nam
2. Captain Sir (USA) (10/5/3/0) – Chae Gyu Jun
3. Vicar Love (USA) (23/10/1/4) – Jung Ki Yong
4. Dongbanui Gangja (USA) (24/17/4/2) – Moon Se Young
5. Geumbittuhon (USA) (37/3/5/3) – Jung Pyeong Soo
6. Tiffanyuikkum (AUS) (25/5/1/2) – Shin Dae Jun
7. Kahnui Jeonseol (NZ) (21/2/5/4) – Choi Won Joon
8. Yeonseung Daero (KOR) (22/10/3/3) – Park Geum Man
9. Larrycat (USA) (10/4/3/2) – Bang Choon Sik
10. Seonnyang Yongsa (AUS) (23/9/5/4) – Jo Sung Gon
11. Yeongung Manse (KOR) (23/10/4/3) – Hitomi Miyashita
12. Tough Win (USA) (7/7/0/0) – Cho Kyoung Ho
13. Crafty Louis (USA) (39/15/5/3) – Jo Chang Wook
14. Cheonjidolpung (USA) (22/5/0/3) – Boo Min Ho

Post-Race: Jockeys Face Punters at Seoul

Seoul Race Park took a very rare visible step in bringing itself in line with international racing recently as now for the first time, punters are able to see horses and jockeys returning to scale after each race.

Cho Kyoung Ho unsaddles

Up until now, on conclusion of a race, runners and riders would disappear back into their subterranean lair, with only Stakes winners re-emerging for the crowd. Several months ago, construction began on a new enclosure just beyond the winning post for horses to return to immediately after each race, along with a building for jockeys to weigh-in before taking elevators back underground. Now, win or lose, every jockey has to unsaddle in front of whoever wants to watch with all the associated celebrations, recriminations and confrontations open for all to see.

Shin Hyoung Chul returns a winner

It’s given punters an opportunity to show their appreciation (or otherwise) to the jockey who has just made them temporarily rich (or otherwise) and allows the curious a close up glimpse of exactly how shattered both runner and rider are after a race.

Most of all though, it has allowed a special window into the camaraderie that exists between the jockeys. Choice exchange of the weekend came after race 9 on Sunday – forgive Gyongmaman’s approximate translation:

Yoon Tae Hyoug: “Sang Woo. You’re a f*****g a******e”
Park Sang Woo: (mumbled) “Go f**k yourself”

Fun for all the family.

Moon Se Young stalks moodily away after a rare setback

Sangseung Ilro is Queen of the Mud

We already knew she was a special filly, yet today Sangseung Ilro scored arguably the most impressive win of her illustrious career as she overcame the Busan mud and a host of foreign bred rivals to win the Gyeongnam Do Min Ilbo (Citizen News) Cup.

One of only two Korean bred starters, Sangseung Ilro and jockey Lim Sung Sil were slow away as Jo Sung Gon – who had spurned the ride on the 2009 Derby winner – bolted for the rail on Useung Geotap. The field battled through the backstretch in driving rain and as they turned for home, Lim found himself on the rail with nowhere to go.

Useung Geotap launched into the stretch while Sangseung Ilro was turned this way and that, looking for an opening. Each time a door seemed to open though, it was immediately slammed shut. Finally, with a furlong to go, more in desperation than anything else, Lim checked Sangseung Ilro – who was still in sixth place – almost bringing her to a stop, and dragged her to the wide outside. Finally she had a clear run, but surely it was too late.

It was anything but. With Useung Geotap tiring, Sangseung Ilro relentlessly ran her down, hitting the front with thirty metres to go and remarkably pulling away for a two length win. Behind her, Brown Beauty edged out Useung Geotap for second.

Winner of the KRA Cup Mile and Korean Derby, second in the Korean Oaks and third in the Minister’s Cup in 2009 and now winner of the KNN Cup and Do Min Ilbo Cup, Sangseung Ilro is rapidly becoming one of the most decorated horses in Korean racing. Whether it’s males or foreign bred horses, she has now beaten them all.

Gyeongnam Citizen News Cup – Busan Race Park – 1800M – July 11, 2010

1. Sangseung Ilro (KOR) [Concept Win – Ms. Whiskey (Whiskey Wisdom)] – Lim Sung Sil – 1.8, 1.1
2. Brown Beauty (JPN) [Jolie’s Halo – Big Paradise (Timber Country)] – Mun Jung Won – 3.0
3. Useung Geotap (USA) [Dehere – Answer To Me (Peteski)] – Jo Sung Gon – 1.4

Distances: 2 lengths/Neck
Also Ran: 4. Mighty Hero, 5. Annika Queen, 6. Daejiui Yeosin, 7. Ilchul Gwangya, 8. Jilju Hara, 9. Double The Gold, 10. Ima Firecracker, 11. Smart As Me

Up at Seoul the weather was better even if the racing wasn’t. Jockeys’ Union Chairman “Comrade” Kim Dong Kyun completed a good weekend by grabbing his second winner on Complete Power, a horse appropriately named given the status of his organisation.

Complete Power: Chairman Kim Dong Kyun (3) takes the lead

Meanwhile, leading jockey Moon Se Young endured a frustrating day before winning race 9 on up and comer Thewon Thewon.

Flat Out: Boo Min Ho drives Hwa Jin to the finish

A number of long-standing also-rans finally broke their maidens. Hwa Jin was the first of two winners for jockey Boo Min Ho while Golden Cat made it nineteenth time lucky in race 6 and Cherokee Man got his first win in twenty attempts in race 8.

Cherokee Man and Yoon Tae Hyoug take race 8

FULL RESULTS FROM SEOUL

FULL RESULTS FROM BUSAN

Wepner Bows Out But There’s a King Shark in the Busan Tank

Four New Jockeys for Seoul while Jo In Kwen and Lee Sang Hyeok Go Free

South African Martin Wepner has left Korea and has been replaced in the Busan jockey ranks by Japanese rider Katsuya Sameshima. The 47 year-old has a professional record of 3,839 wins from 18,337 rides over a career spanning thirty years. Nicknamed “King Shark”, Sameshima arrives with a formidable reputation, with Japanese “twitter” commenter Mitochunagon describing him as “…(riding) horses better than Mr Pink”. That of course being a reference to Toshio “Mr Pink” Uchida who in six dominant months at the track, was loved by punters and loathed by his rivals in equal measure.

Ketsuya Sameshima

Although slightly less prolific, Martin Wepner was similar. In a sixteen month stint at Busan, he recorded 49 winners from 483 mounts, landing some major prizes along the way. Things were never simple with Wepner though. After a breakdown in communication over a pre-Derby dinner he walked away from the ride of Namdo Jeap in the Derby the next day. Shin Hyoung Chul would step in to guide Namdo Jeap to second place while it seemed Wepner was on the way to the airport.

Feeling he had been treated unfairly and possibly recognizing talent, trainer Kim Young Kwan stepped in and offered Wepner the role of stable-jockey which the South African accepted and the two formed a formidable partnership throughout the summer of 2009 culminating in victory for Namdo Jeap in the Minister’s Cup, the final leg of the Korean Triple Crown at Seoul Race Park in October. Their relationship would break down later in the year though and although Wepner kept riding winners both men would, for different reasons, go on to have a sobering time in 2010.

Wepner is expected to return to Malaysia where he rode successfully for a number of years before coming to Korea. Ultimately his time here must be judged a success and proof that jockeys with talent and perseverance can make it in the undoubtedly harsh environment of the Korean weighing room. Here is that win on Namdo Jeap:

With Sameshima joining Hitomi Miyashita at Busan, Kunihisa Hirase has made the unenviable trip up the Gyeongbu Expressway to Seoul. He’s not the only new-boy at the capital track as four graduates from the KRA Jockey academy are making their debuts this month. Lee Kang Seo, Kim Jung Jun, Jang Chu Yeol and Park Jong Mi will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of Jo In Kwen and Lee Sang Hyeok, both of whom have recently turned freelance after riding out their apprenticeships.

The quality of newly licensed riders has increased greatly in recent years and hopefully this year’s new recruits will go on to have long, successful and safe careers.

From left: Lee Kang Seo, Kim Jung Jun, Park Jong Mi, Jang Chu Yeol (Picture: KRA)

Before The Mayor’s Show

Three more for Cho / Mystery Boy easy at Busan
We’re about to embark on two weekends of top class racing on the peninsula with next week’s Gyeongnam Do-Min Ilbo Cup followed by a golden Sunday evening on July 18th with the SBS Cup at Seoul and the Busan Mayor’s Cup down South. Today was a little more low-key but there was still plenty of note at both Seoul and Busan.

Raon Chamber & Cho Kyoung Ho return to scale after victory

At Seoul, jockey Cho Kyoung Ho scored a double-header of big wins. First up he shepherded Raon Chamber to her fifth win from nine starts, the three-year old having no problems seeing off a small field of fellow fillies in race 9. Race 10 was a little less routine, but he managed to coax Suseong TX to the tightest of victories in the feature race. The favourite just edged out long-time leader Ganghan Speed as they hit the line.

Wink & you'll miss it: Cheondomalli (number 9) overcomes Wink (2)

Cho didn’t have it all his own way, however. Earlier he had been on the receiving end of a final strode turnaround as Lee Sang Hyeok and Cheondomalli got the better of Cho and favourite Wink in race 6.

Park Jong Mi parades for the first time at Seoul

In between, there was a smart win for US import Deosen over hot favourite Seoului Gangja in race 8 as well as a racing debut for new lady jockey Park Jong Mi. Twenty-five year old Park is one of four young jockeys who will make their debuts during July. She was scheduled to have her first ride yesterday but her horse was withdrawn so instead she took her bow on fillu Geumjaru in race 5. Despite showing at the front during the race, Geumjaru weakened to sixth – one place outside the money – in the home straight.

Down at Busan, there was new jockey drama as Japanese rider Ketsuya Sameshima found himself demoted to third in the last race after his mount Sunshine Halo collided with Ecton Legacy as they battled for second place. Both, however, were well-beaten by the impressive Mystery Boy [Ecton Park – Mysterious Moll (Bates Motel)] who was recording his fourth win from five starts. As well as the demotion, Sameshima picked up a three-day ban for his troubles.

There was less drama in Busan’s most valuable race of the day as favourite Daldeongi held off Gunham for a narrow win.

Won Jung Il drives Deosen into the lead

It’s On! Dongbanui Gangja vs Tough Win Set For Busan

When it was revealed that this year’s Seoul Owners’ Cup race was to be fillies only, Korean racing fans let out a collective groan of disappointment. Not that they have anything against fillies mind, but that in recent years the race had been a summer showdown of the best horses the track has to offer. That this year’s Busan Mayor’s Cup would be opened up to horses from Seoul looked scant consolation.

The Champion: Dongbanui Gangja

For this year, there is one contest that everyone is waiting for. Double Grand Prix winner Dongbanui Gangja is facing perhaps the biggest test of his hegemony to date from the unbeaten three-year old Tough Win. That one of them would ship to Busan to hoover up a prize as large as the Mayor’s Cup was always likely – that both of them would go was thought too much to hope for.

The Challenger: Tough Win

Nevertheless, both Dongbanui Gangja and Tough Win look set to hold their first duel at the Southern track on Sunday July 18th. As the younger of the two, Tough Win will have three kilo weight advantage over the reigning Horse of the Year and every gram of that could come into play over Busan’s punishing two and a half furlong home straight.

While the attention will be on the two stars from Seoul, there’s set to be plenty of local interest too. Crafty Louis is entered as are the Korean bred pair of Yeonseung Daero and Yeongung Manse – the latter having a history of upsetting what had previously been billed a “match-race”.

Seventeen horses remain in at this stage. At least three of those be cut before final declarations. Punters will have their fingers crossed that the two big stars make it.

* Today at Seoul, Janggun Bada was a shock 50/1 winner of the feature race. See full results at our newly revamped results page! Here’s what’s happening on Sunday:

Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:20 to 18:00
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:40 to 16:30