Month: August 2010

Euro Fighter On Target in Korean Oaks

53/1 shot Euro Fighter was the surprise winner of the 2010 Korean Oaks at Busan Race Park this afternoon. The Seoul-trained filly got off to a flying start and led the field into the first corner.

As the better-known names, headed by odds-on favourite Cheonun, massed behind her, it looked just a matter of time before she faded. Instead she did the opposite and, staying firmly on the rail, Euro Fighter found another gear in the home straight and pulled further away from the field. In the middle of the track, Cheonun laboured into stride but by then it was far too late. Euro Fighter, daughter of Archer City Slew, had won the fillies’ Classic.

Was it such a surprise though? Not if form rather than potential was anything to go by. Punters simply chose to disregard the fact that she was one of only two fillies in the race to have won a two-turn race before instead taking a chance on the unknown with fillies who had never gone further than seven furlongs. The exception to this was Cheonun, who had won twice at two turns. She looked set to pounce as they rounded the home turn but by the time Choi Bum Hyun had her pointing in the right direction in the straight, Euro Fighter was out of reach.

Moon Jung Kyun - First Classic winner since J.S. Hold

Seoul horses filled all the first four places – a welcome result for the capital after Busan’s recent domination of the Classics. Indeed, the calibre of the southern track’s fillies this year would appear to leave a lot to be desired. Crown Flag, the second longest shot on the board, was the host track’s best finisher, managing fifth. Busan does of course still boast the Derby winner, Cheonnyeon Daero, and if all goes to plan, Euro Fighter will have the opportunity to prove that today wasn’t a one off, when the pair meet in the Minister’s Cup at Seoul in October.

For jockey Moon Jung Kyun, it was a first Classic win since his swept all three legs of the Triple Crown on the great J.S. Hold in 2007.

While down at Busan, temperatures were in the low thirties, it was ten degrees cooler and a whole lot wetter back in the capital. Not that jockey Jang Chu Yeol will care tonight. The apprentice won a race for the very first time when he guided Gwanakteukgeup to victory in race 4. Jang is the first of this year’s new jockeys to score a win. It was his thirteenth start.

Another winner - Lee Shin Young returns to scale

Meanwhile, she may be the first Korean woman to earn a trainer’s license but Lee Shin Young is very much in form on the track at the moment. Thirty-year old Lee scored a typically agressive win on Nike Seven in race 7. As soon as a training vacancy opens up, she’ll be moving into the barn, however, punters will be quite happy if that doesn’t happen for a good while longer yet.

Seoul’s feature race was won by another 53-1 shot. Mr Loving Life (Full Mandate) scored a win over Owner’s Cup winner Serendipper in the ten furlong handicap.

Korean Oaks (KOR.GII) – Busan Race Park – 1800M – Aug 29, 2010

1. Euro Fighter (KOR) [Archer City Slew – Ilso Cheongun (High Yield)] – Moon Jung Kyun – 53.7, 7.8
2. Cheonun (KOR) [Ft. Stockon – Restless Patricia (Born Restless)] – Choi Bum Hyun – 1.1
3. Dongbang Rose (KOR) [Volponi – Night Mary (Strike Gold)] – Shin Hyoung Chul – 2.6

Distances: 5 lengths/1.25 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Kanui Byeol 5. Crown Flag 6. Heukgun Jilju 7. Saeroun Gongju 8. Harue 9. Selah 10. Sanbang Plus 11. Hushtilled 12. Namgang 13. Shining Champion 14. Saroungangja

The rain was falling in the capital as Gaemamusa took race 5

Cheonun Can Take Korean Oaks Back To Seoul

The Korean Oaks has only been run at Busan for two years but in that time, the southern track has taken something of a stranglehold over both it and the other three-year old Classics. On Sunday, fourteen fillies will line up for the 2010 edition of the race. And in Cheonun, Seoul has an excellent chance of taking the crown back to the capital. Here are the runners and riders:

Korean Oaks (KOR.GII) – Busan Race Park – 1800M Aug 29, 2010 – 15:45

1. Crown Flag (13/1/2/3) – Kim Myoung Sin (Busan)
Despite an encouraging second last time out, it would be a major surprise if she was to trouble the placings.
2. Heukgun Jilju (9/3/1/2) – Kim Dong Young (Busan)
Has two wins from her last four starts. If the visitors from Seoul don’t enjoy the Busan track, she has an outside placing chance.
3. Kanui Byeol (9/3/1/2) – Cho Kyoung Ho (Seoul)
Finished well behind Cheonun and Dongbang Rose in the Sports Seoul but may benefit from the slightly longer distance and she will appear in many punters’ quinellas.
4. Saeroun Gongju (9/2/1/2) – Choi Si Dae (Busan)
Has really struggled since moving up to class 2. Not completely without hope, but an outsider nonetheless.
5. Sanbang Plus (12/2/2/1) – Mun Jung Won (Busan)
Won last time out to break a string of disappointing performances but not expected to challenge here.
6. Euro Fighter (9/3/2/1) – Moon Jung Kyun (Seoul)
Not many give her a chance but she was third in the Sports Seoul and is one of very few in the race to have won a two-turn race.
7. Cheonun (8/4/3/1) – Choi Bum Hyun
The favorite. Never finished worse than third, she was a 5-length winner of the Sports Seoul Cup. If she’s on form, she will win.
8. Selah (11/4/1/1) – Yoo Sang Wan
In great form with two wins and a second in her last three outings which has made a run here possible. If she keeps that form going, she must be considered for a place.
9. Dongbang Rose (7/4/1/1) – Shin Hyoung Chul
One of the stars of her year group so far, she’s finished behind Cheonun in each of her last three starts. It would be no surprise if they were to be first and second here.
10. Saeroungangja (9/3/2/0) – Lee Dong Kug
Another who didn’t look a Classic prospect until good recent form changed things. She’ll have supporters but a place looks the extent of her ambitions.
11. Shining Champion (13/1/0/7) – Hitomi Miyashita
Likes finishing third. She’ll have the only lady jockey in the race on board but there’s little suggest she’ll be anything other than an also-ran.
12. Harue (6/2/2/2) – Park Tae Jong
An intriguing entrant. Won convincingly at 1700 metres last time and is worth taking a plunge on at what should be generous prices.
13. Namgang (10/2/2/2) – Kim Yong Geun
If a Busan filly is going to win, this one has as much chance as any. She’ll have to improve a lot though to beat Cheonun.
14. Hushtilled (13/3/3/1) – Jung Ki Yong
Hasn’t really live up to her early promise to date but she’s the only filly in the race to hae won over the distance and a surprise is possible.

Choi Leads Korea To Challenge Victory

Syu Ishibashi Lands YTN on Tanmahwanhui while Muzi Yeni Also a Winner

Choi Bum Hyun ended up victorious, but there was plenty to cheer too for Japan’s Syu Ishibashi and South Africa’s Muzi Yeni as the 2010 International Jockey Invitational drew to a close in front of 50,000 people under the floodlights at Seoul Race Park this evening.

Choi Bum Hyun returns to scale on Jisang Mujeok after taking a winning lead in the Jockey's Invitational

In only the second week of his comeback from injury, Choi landed race 7 – the third leg of the Invitational – with a four-length win on Jisang Mujeok, to effectively wrap things up in favour of the home team. However, there was still the main event to come, the tenth running of the YTN Cup. Always a big event, due to its sponsorship by Korea’s 24 hour news channel – who broadcast the race and subsequent ceremony live (the only horse race you’ll see on Korean TV all year) – the all filly and mare race was where the visitors finally came into their own.

The winner was something of a surprise though. Tamnahwanhui was sent off at 20/1 but, under Syu Ishibashi boucned out of the gate and into a lead that she would never relinquish. Those who came closest to catching her were Baengnakgo, under Akin Sozen and Sky Center – Scott Seamer adding a third place finish to his second yesterday.

Syu Ishibashi and Tamnahwanhui pose

Four-year old Tamnahwanhui was recording her third straight win and fifth in total from twelve starts.

After the contest was over, Muzi Yeni and Oliver Castillo got back out on regular rides in race 10 and it ended in glory for the young South African. Yeni guided the 12/1 shot Bogideongguljae to a commanding five-length win. Always showing towards the front of the thirteen strong field, Bogideongguljae hit the front in mid-stretch and never looked like being caught.

Winner - Muzi Yeni

Overall, the Korean team won the contest by 112 points to 78. However, Ishibashi, Yeni, Seamer and Sozen will all go away with plenty of earned prize money. As in previous years, it was an enjoyable event to watch and punters took warmly to the visitors – espeically the tiny Yeni who built up quite a following trackside in his five rides.

YTN Cup – Seoul Race Park – 1900M – August 22, 2010

1. Tamnahwanhui (KOR) [Al Naba – Bulbijihye (Pro For Sure)] – Syu Ishibashi – 21.1, 5.3
2. Baengnakgo (KOR) [Fiercely – Sobaeksu (Mr. Adorable)] – Akin Sozen – 2.7
3. Sky Center (USA) [Anziyan – Busy Chick (Numerous)] – Scott Seamer – 2.7
Distances: 0.75 lengths/0.75 lengths

Also Ran: 4. Gwangsokcheoreom (Oh Kyoung Hoan) 5. Hwansanguimulgyeol (Cho Kyoung Ho – KOR) 6. Fly Top (Oliver Castillo – USA) 7. Devilish Speed (Yoo Sang Wan – KOR) 8. Fortunata (Nisall McCullogh – IRE) 9. Chongalcheoreom (Moon Se Young – KOR) 10. Gangha Speed (Park Tae Jong – KOR) 11. Raon Chamber (Muzi Yeni – SA) 12. D Day (Choi Bum Hyun – KOR) 13. Yeopungjudo (Jung Ki Yong – KOR) 14. Gwacheon Geojang (Lee Sang Hyeok)

YTN brought their cameras to their race

Tote-al Chaos

Korea Lead International Jockey Challenge While Tote Farce Causes Lost Race

It can happen to anyone. You run one of the slickest shows around. You have the best facilities and most advanced technology anywhere. So naturally, you invite a few people round to show it off. And when you do, it all goes wrong. The KRA must have been feeling like that halfway through this afternoon’s card; the first day of the International Jockey Challenge at Seoul Race Park.

It had started off badly with chaos at the starting gate delaying races 1 & 2. Then in race 3, one jockey got thrown off and another horse opted to remain in the stalls until his compatriots had completed half the race.

That's Korean for 'System Error' and it results in an empty track

However, that was just a build up to race 4, the pièce de résistance, when with the horses at the start and around $10 Million in the various pools, the tote board failed. Completely. Race 4 was abandoned and and all money returned. If it could fail once, it could fail again – and it did, just prior to race 5.Somehow, though they managed to get it working again and whatever sticking plaster they applied (or they switched it off and switched it back on again), saw us through to the end of the evening.

However, it may have been better for the International team comtesting the “Korea vs The World” event, if they hadn’t. In the two Saturday races that brought us to the half-way point in the challenge, both were won by the home team, with the visitors managing just two placings.

Scott Seamer - best placed visitor

In a race that was delayed by 10 minutes due to the tote problems, Ganghotansaeng was an impressive winner for Korean jockey Yoo Sang Wan . The gelding had the seven furlong race won some distance from the line and finished two lengths clear of Choi Bum Hyun on Olle Dreamer. Turkish rider Akin Sozen pipped Moon Se Young to third to score some points for the visitors:

Race 6 (Domestic 4 Allowance III-B) – Seoul Race Park – 1400M – Aug 21, 2010

1. Ganghotansaeng – Yoo Sang Wan (KOR) 5.6, 2.2
2. Olle Dreamer – Choi Bum Hyun (KOR) 2.2
3. Chowonui Hyanggi – Akin Sozen (TUR) 3.3
Distances: 2 lengths/4 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Wonder Heart (Moon Se Young – KOR), 5. Golden Cat (Muzi Yeni – SA), 6. Tachys (Oliver Castillo – USA) 7. Super Taepung (Niall McCullagh – IRE), 8. Happy Choice (Oh Kyoung Hoan), 9. Golden Wing (Park Tae Jong – KOR), 10. Yongho Yakjin (Scott Seamer – AUS), 11. Sugar Land (Jung Ki Yong – KOR), 12. Perfect Line (Syu Ishibashi – JPN), 13. Holiday King (Cho Kyoung Ho – KOR)

It didn’t get much better under the floodlights three hours later. There were no surprises as Big Easy scored his sixth win from seven starts, Jung Ki Yong having been the lucky jockey to pick his number out of the hat. Scott Seamer got the closest, guiding Gangcheorwang to a creditable second place. However, the rest of the visitors filled out five of the last six finshers.

Race 10 (Domestic 2 Handicap) – Seoul Race Park – 1400M – Aug 21, 2010

1. Big Easy – Jung Ki Yong (KOR) – 2.5, 1.4
2. Gangcheorwang – Scott Seamer (AUS) – 3.2
3. Oregon – Cho Kyoung Ho (KOR) – 2.6
Distances: 1.25 lengths/4 lengths

Also Ran: 4. Chowonui Chueok (Yoo Sang Wan – KOR), 5. Kkum Guerin (Park Tae Jong – KOR), 6. Mannamui Chubok (Park Tae Jong – KOR), 7. Jaemi Best (Choi Bum Hyun – KOR), 8. Wangsan (Lee Sang Hyeok) 9. Battle Commander (Muzi Yeni – SA) 10. Yeonggeol (Moon Se Young – KOR) 11. Smart Galloper (Syu Ishibashi – JPN) 12. Happy Hero (Akin Sozen – TUR) 13. Jayeongwang (Niall McCullogh – IRE) DQ Red Sky (Oliver Castillo – USA)

* It got even worse after the line for Muzi Yeni as Battle Commander decided he’d prefer to be alone for a while and dumped him on the track. Happily, Yeni is fine and will be riding tomorrow.

Muzi Yeni of South Africa gets to know his mount - this one didn't throw him off

*The English language Stewards’ Report from today’s meeting at Seoul is now ready for download. It is, of course, free.

How Will Those Foreigners Get On?

International Jockey Challenge: Day 1 Preview

Saturday sees the first two races of the Sixth Seoul International Jockeys’ Challenge. Their mounts were randomly drawn so let’s take a look at the prospects for the six visiting riders:

Race 6 (17:00): Domestic bred Class 4 (Allowance III-B) – 1400M

Moon Se Young - On the favourite?

They picked this race well as it is unusually open with at least seven of the thirteen starters having valid claims for consideration (although only twelve jockeys are involved in the challenge, the races are open to up to fourteen entrants). Gangho Tansaeng (Yoo Sang Wan) has won two of his six starts but was disappointing at both class and distance last time. Meanwhile Wonder Heart (Moon Se Young) is a persistant placer but hasn’t won any of his fifteen races. Both will attract serious money though. Let’s run down the rides of the visitors:

Scott Seamer (Australia) – Yongho Yakjin (18starts/1win/2seconds) – Has had three races at this level without impressing but drops back to seven furlongs and has a chance of moneying.

Oliver Castillo (USA) – Tachys (14/2/0) – Dropping back to seven furlongs for the first time since joining this division. Well worth a place bet.

Niall McCullogh (Ireland) – Super Taepung (12/1/2) – Perhaps a half furlong too far for this colt who struggled at the distance last time However, connections seem to think he can cope and an outside punt must be considered.

Akin Sozen (Turkey) – Chowonui Hyanggi (19/1/2) – Second at the distance last time means she will be a short price this time. Not that she’s done anything to suggest she’s a winner, but the filly will have a lot of supporters.

Muzi Yeni (South Africa) – Golden Cat (19/1/1) – Finally broke his maiden last time but is in better company now. Will struggle to make an impression.

Syu Ishibashi (Japan) – Perfect Line (19/1/0) – Has nothing in her form that suggests she can make an impression here.

Race 10 (20:00) : Domestic bred Class 2 (Handicap) – 1400M

Potentially there’s one outstanding horse here. Big Easy, a three-year old gelding has won five of his six starts. Korean Jung Ki Yong picked him in the draw. Unproven at this level though, Big Easy won’t necessarily find it er…easy. Jaemi Best (Choi Bum Hyun) also looks dangerous and a few of the visitors are not without a chance either.

Scott Seamer (Australia) – Gancheorwang (32/3/4) – Third placed last time out and like a number of others, is dropping significantly in distance. Being placed would be a tremendous result.

Oliver Castillo (USA) – Red Sky (31/4/1) – Worth an outside bet. A decent sprinter who has been running at far too long distances recently. Will relish the drop back to seven furlongs.

Niall McCullogh (Ireland) – Jayeongwang (20/4/1) – Won an all fillies race in May to put her in this class. Should be outgunned tomorrow.

Akin Sozen (Turkey) – Happy Hero (32/1/7) – This persistant placer has trouble winning. Neither look likely.

Muzi Yeni (South Africa) – Battle Commander (24/4/3) – Another who should enjoy the drop down in distance. Accustomed to racing in this class, he has a chance.

Syu Ishibashi (Japan) – Smart Galloper (36/4/0) – Unfortunately for Ishibashi, again it’s difficult to see how this one has any chance at all.

Gyongmaman’s verdict: In both races, a Korean is likely to be on the favourite; It’s time for Wonder Heart to finally win in race 6 and Big Easy has done nothing to suggest he shouldn’t claim race 10. However, neither is nailed on and it’s not impossible that a visitor could claim both races.

We’ll have a round up of Day 1 of the challenge plus a preview of Sunday’s conclusion tomorrow.

Other than Muzi Yeni and Oliver Castillo getting mounts in Sunday’s race 10, none of the visiting jockeys – despite being granted a regular short-term racing license – will ride in any but the challenge races. Naturally, Gyongmaman would never suggest that this rather surprising state of affairs has absolutely anything at all to do with the Seoul Racecourse Jockeys’ Union. No, never would he make such a statement, because it er…obviously…couldn’t be true…could it…?

International Weekend Preview

It’s that time of year again – a time that is getting earlier and earlier. The 2010 International Jockey Challenge comes to Seoul Race Park this weekend, pitting six of Korea’s top riders against six visitors for a $20,000 prize. Here’s who’s in town this year:

Clockwise from top right: Oliver Castillo, Syu Ishibashi, Nial McCullogh, Akin Sozen, Muzi Yeni, Scott Seamer

Scott Seamer (Australia): Has won the Melbourne Cup. That’s enough for any jockey to retire happy with. However, aside from guiding Ethereal to victory in one of the world’s greatest races in 2001, Seamer has also won the Caulfield Cup, Golden Slipper and AJC Derby. He’s been Champion jockey in Brisbane where he now does most of his riding. Click here to see the closing stages of that 2001 Cup win.

Niall McCullogh (Ireland): Although riding in his home country suring the summer, McCullogh is perhaps best known for his time in the Asia with regular and successful stints in India. Read an interview with McCullogh from here.

Muzi Yeni (South Africa): Gerrit Schlecter won the challenge in 2007 and a number of South African jockeys have tried their hand full-time in Korea, most notable Martin Wepner. This year, they have sent up and coming rider Muzi Yeni, who has ridden just shy of 100 winners this season.

Akin Sozen (Turkey): Another up-and-comer, twenty-three year old Sozen has already ridden upwards of 600 winners in his homeland.

Oliver Castillo (USA): Thirty-four year old Castillo rode his 1000th race winner earlier this year at Laurel Park. Chilean born, Castillo has been riding in the US for the past thirteen years.

Syu Ishibashi (Japan): The neighbour across the water always send at least one jockey across. This year it is twenty-six year old Syu Ishibashi, who has over 250 winners from a six year career to date.

The Korean team has a familiar look about it. Park Tae Jong will be there as ever, and is joined by Moon Se Young, Yoo Sang Wan, Cho Kyoung Ho, Jung Ki Yong and Choi Bum Hyun.

The jockeys will compete in four races – two on Saturday and two on Sunday, ciulminating in the YTN Cup, under the lights on Sunday evening. They are races 6 (17:00) & 10 (20.00) on Saturday and 7 (17:45) & 9 (19:35) on Sunday.

Here’s what’s happening around the peninsula this weekend:

Friday August 20

Busan Race Park: 10 races from 15:00 to 21:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 16:30 to 21:30

Saturday August 21

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

Sunday August 22

Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 14:30 to 21:00
Busan Race Park: 5 races from 16:20 to 20:05

Second Chance

2008 Oaks Winner Set For Shock Return This Sunday

Well this came out of nowhere. After nearly two years away, 2008 Oaks winner Jeolho Chance will return to racing this Sunday in the feature event at Busan Race Park.

The outstanding filly of her year, Jeolho Chance was able to blunder badly on the first corner of the Oaks but still recover in order to win without breaking into a gallop. She went on to finish second in the final leg of the Triple Crown, the Minister’s Cup up at Seoul, beaten by Gaeseon Janggun, who had previously finished second in both the KRA Cup Mile and the monsoon-afflicted Korean Derby and went on to have a successful season as a four-year old before being retired to stud last winter.

It looked like Jeolho Chance’s future lay in the breeding shed too. She only had one more outing after that Minister’s Cup race before she suffered a seemingly career-ending injury. Intensive therapy and recuperation has, like Baekgwang at Seoul before her, brought about a remarkable recovery and she will line up in race 5 at Busan on Sunday evening.

It’s a tough ask for her. Up against her will be the horse with perhaps the most boring name – but arguably the most exciting prospects – at the track. Mister Park, a three-year old gelding, made a creditable but hardly noteworthy debut last November finishing third of twelve in a maiden race. Since then he’s run six more times and has been untouchable.

All is set for a massive weekend of racing on the peninsula. Up at Seoul it is not only YTN Cup weekend but also the International Jockey Challenge. Scott Seamer of Australia and Oliver Castillo of the United States are among six overseas riders in town to take on the Koreans in the annual event. We’ll have a full preview of the challenge tomorrow.

Happy Returns For Choi Bum Hyun

After difficult spells for both of them, two of Seoul’s most recognisable names found themselves back together in the Winner’s circle on Independence Day at Seoul Race Park this evening.

He's no bum: Choi Bum Hyun is back

Bulpae Gisang and Choi Bum Hyun had won together eight times but with the jockey only returning this weekend after three months on the injured list and the horse – once considered one of the two best in Korea – without a win this year, the omens weren’t good.

Yet under the lights in front of a bumper Sunday crowd, the pair combined to see off a big name field that included the likes of Vicar Love, so impressive in the Busan Metropolitan last month, and the returning former champion filly & mare, Top Point. It was Top Point who set the early pace in the ten furlong feature event – oh how we’ve missed her the past nine months – but Choi and Bulpae Gisang were always looking dangerous and took things up with a furlong to go. Vicar Love faded from proceedings and it was Free Hugs who was the biggest danger but, going down the rail under Cho Kyoung Ho, the Aussie-bred six year old could only get to within a length and a half on the line.

Taegukgi: Flags flying on Independence Day

It was a great hour for the returning Choi. In race 9, he guided the very impressive Jilpunggangho to his sixth win from ten starts and in the last scored a surprise victory on outsider Daejauichukje.

Jilpunggangho [Max’s Pal – Spicy Soup (Alphabet Soup)] looks quite a horse. One of those who whose dam was imported while in foal, he wasn’t eligible for the three-year olf Classics but should be a force to be reckoned with in the elite level, for which with today’s win, he has now qualified.

There he might encounter Bulpae Gisang. The stablemate of Dongbanui Gangja for once did not play second fiddle.

Class 1 (Foreign) – Seoul Race Park – 2000M – August 15, 2010

1. Bulpae Gisang (USA) [Lightnin N Thunder – Neat Trick (Clever Trick)] – Choi Bum Hyun – 3.7, 1.6
2. Free Hugs (AUS) [Fantastic Light – Woodie (Woodman)] – Cho Kyoung Ho – 1.2
3. Top Point (KOR) [Tom Cruiser – Mooncello (Northen Baby)] – Shin Hyoung Chul – 2.6
Distances: 1.5 lengths/4 lengths – 13 ran

* Down at Busan, the feature race was won by Golden Appeal [Sharp Appeal – Golden Image (Dancer’s Image)]. The four-year old got the better of Gimakhin Seungbu after Namdo Jeap had gone walkabout in the home straight. Golden Appeal now has an impressive record of eight wins from twelve starts.

At Dusk: Parading for the ninth



Holy Unpredictable

Racing returned to Seoul after two blank weekends and on a day where the weather was as predictable as a maiden pony race on Jeju Island, Holy Dreamer finally showed he’s no flat-track bully and can mix it with the big boys as he defeated a host of established names in the feature race.

Despite the weather, the place was as packed as ever

He’d won his first five races but came unstuck when he faced his first really strong test in last year’s Ilgan Sports where he struggled home in seventh place. He recovered to win twice more in succession to gain entry to Korean racing’s elite for 2010. It seemed he’d met his match, a third place the best to show from four outings this year that included coming a dismal eleventh in the Ttukseom Cup.

Punters still considered him dangerous enough to warrant sending him off at slightly under 10/1 behind such names as Machine Gun, Gi Ra Seong, Nice Choice, Hwangnyongsaji and Taepungchukje. It was Gi Ra Seong who set the early pace but the six-year-old couldn’t hold off the challenge of Holy Dreamer who, under rising star of the weighing room Jo In Kwen took control in the final furlong and won by a length. Taepung Chukje got up for third.

Holy Dreamer now has the impressive record of eight wins from fourteen starts. Whether he can repeat the feat when he carries more weight next time, will be something to watch very carefully. Holy Dreamer’s mother goes by the name of Nice Weather. On that subject…

…If winners were hard to predict, the weather was even harder. Seoul awoke to a crashing thunderstorm but by first post time there was burning sunshine and those in rain coats looked very silly (and very sweaty). All that changed in a few dramatic minutes before the fifth when the skies darkened and the heavens opened unleashing a furious downpour.

This would be repeated between races right up until race 9. Remarkably while parading for all those races was done in torrential unpleasantness, the rain stopped each time the horses entered the starting gate.

Good Engine: Seongjang Engine and Han Sung Youl skip over the slop

In such conditions, surprises were always going to happen. Three odds-on favourites went down: Tracker, Namchonuichukje and Brown Girl were respectively beaten by Seongjang Engine, Battle Bingo and Gounjit.

Some favourites did do the business, however. Best Holls, the only Korean bred entrant in a Foreign-bred race claimed the spoils in race 7 while Cheonji Jangsu cruised past the field to claim victory in race 10. The US bred five-year old is very much a late-bloomer but now looks likely to join the elite on his next outing.

Racing returns to Seoul on Sunday with 11 races from 14:30 to 21:00. Busan also runs a 6 race card from 16:20 to 21:00. The weather forecast is something like hot and sunny with cloudy periods and regular thunderstorms. Oh, and the odd gale-force gust of wind. It’s going to be fun dressing for that.

Class 1 Handicap – Seoul Race Park – 2000M – August 14, 2010

1. Holy Dreamer (KOR) [Duality – Nice Weather (Future Storm)] – Jo In Kwen – 9.3, 2.8
2. Gi Ra Seong (KOR) [Precise End – Dauntless Cat (Mountain Cat)] – Choi Bum Hyun – 1.9
3. Taepungchukje (KOR) [Future Quest – Change In Time (Time For A Change)] – Boo Min Ho – 2.4
Distances: 1 length/0.75 lengths – 13 ran

Kept Raining A lot


Weekend Preview

Nice Choice, Top Point in action as Seoul returns

Picking in advance which are going to be the hottest two weeks of the year is not easy. However, this year they got it right and racing relaxed while Seoul sweltered. Indeed, it’s been so hot in the capital for the past month that at one point Gyongmaman seriously considered switching from red wine to white, just so he had an excuse for having an ice-bucket on the table. That is not a decision he takes lightly.

Nice Choice

They’ll be back in action at Seoul this weekend though as the Summer Festival resumes. There’s no Stakes action on offer but nevertheless, plenty to keep punters occupied as they return to the pari-mutuel windows.

Last year’s President’s Cup winner Nice Choice looked a shadow of his former self when he returned in June following a five month lay-off through injury. We’ll see if another two months of rest has benefitted him when he heads Saturday’s feature race at Seoul. Gi Ra Seong, Holy Dreamer and Machine Gun will be among those looking to stop him.

Sunday’s feature sees a welcome return for former champion filly Top Point. Now six, she’s been out of action since November last year when she injured herself, just two months after claiming victory in the KRA Cup Classic, Seoul’s biggest race for fillies and mares. She’s not taking it easy in her re-appearance as she takes on foreign horses including Bulpae Gisang and Vicar Love.

On a weekend of returns, jockey Choi Bum Hyun is back after a long spell on the injured list.

Friday August 13

Busan Race Park: 10 races from 15:00 to 21:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 16:30 to 21:15

Saturday August 14

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

Sunday August 15

Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 14:30 to 21:00
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 16:20 to 21:00