Month: November 2010

Dangdae Bulpae Deadly In President’s Cup

That was impressive. First it was the Gyeongnam Governor’s Trophy, then the Minister’s Cup now Dangdae Bulpae has completed a hat-trick of big Autumn victories by claiming the President’s Cup and in doing so, re-affirming his status as the top three-year old – and arguably the top domestically bred horse in Korea.

Dangdae Bulpae & Jo Sung Gon in the President's Cup Winner's Circle

This afternoon, taking on older horses, he was outstanding. Sent off as odds-on favourite over a star-studded field, Jo Sung Gon took the colt into an early lead. By the time they were into the back straight, they were leading the rest of the field by three lengths. They slowed as they began the long turn for home, allowing the field to come back together, however, Dangdae Bulpae was barely out of first gear. Jockey Jo went to work as they entered the home straight and with a furlong to go, the race was won.

President's Cup(s)

Behind him was Yeonseung Daero. The four-year old winner of last year’s Busan Owners’ Cup was two-and-a-half lengths adrift. It might as well have been ten lengths given the way the winner eased up. In third was another four-year old from Busan, Golden Appeal. Triple Seven was the highest placed horse from Seoul, the Ttukseom Cup winner was fourth, one place ahead of Busan’s Derby winning Cheonnyeon Daero.

A disappointing eighth in the KRA Cup Mile, the first leg of the Korean Triple Crown, Dangdae Bulpae was third in the Derby. Since then though, he’s been unbeatable and has amassed overall career figures of nine wins from twelve starts. Significantly, since the Derby, four of his five wins have come against older horses.

Dangdae Bulpae’s victory also means that in the races where Seoul and Busan horses have faced each other this year, the two tracks have three wins apiece. There is one more race to come (well, two if you count the Breeders’ Cup which is for two-year olds only). The Grand Prix Stakes, the biggest race in the Korean calender takes place next month. Entry to the race is by invitation-only, with the invitations decided by an online vote of punters. Dangdae Bulpae is sure to be voted in, however, the Grand Prix isn’t restricted to Korean bred horses. The best imports will be there too, including Tough Win. In the last ten years, only one Korean bred horse has won the Grand Prix. Dangdae Bulpae has the talent to make it two. Let’s hope he goes for it.

President’s Cup (KOR.GI) – Seoul Race Park – 2000M – November 14, 2010

1. Dangdae Bulpae (KOR) [Biwa Shinseiki – Indeed My Dear (Alydeed)] – Jo Sung Gon – 1.5, 1.1
2. Yeonseung Daero (KOR) [Creek Cat -Sensationalkris (Cryptoclearance) – Choi Si Dae – 1.7
3. Golden Appeal (KOR) [Shaep Appeal – Golden Image (Dancer’s Image)] – Lim Sung Sil – 1.6

Distances: 2.5 lengths/1.25 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Triple Seven 5. Cheonnyeon Daero 6. Suseong TX 7. Baengnyeonbong 8. Money Teukgeup 9. Holy Dreamer 10. Glory Yeonggwang 11. Lucky Dancer 12. Hongji 13. Natural Guy
Non Runner: Geumgangi

In other races, there was a surprising return to form for five-year old Yodongseong (Payne’s Bay). This was a horse who, two years ago looked set to challenge the likes of Bally Brae and Dongbanui Gangja as he arrived on the class 1 scene with five wins from nine starts. Remarkably, he hadn’t won since. Today, at his fifteenth attempt at class 1, he finally came out on top, beating out Cheonji Jangsu and Jumong by a neck.

Hemiltonia and Moon Se Young take race 8

It was a cold day at the track, the official temperature of 9C not reflecting the windchill which made it seem much chillier. It was a taste of things to come as it’s going to get a lot colder over the weeks and months ahead. However, a performance like that of Dangdae Bulpae is enough to make a punter forget the cold and instead, think about what that horse can possibly achieve over the months ahead.

* Down at Busan, the combination of Australian trainer Peter Wolsley and Japanese jockey Yoshiyuki Aoki struck again. Today they combined for two winners and two second place from the six races run at Busan. Pegasus Farm’s two-year old filly Secret Whisper (Sea Of Secrets) has much expected of her and she scored her second win from five starts in race 2 today. Aoki and Wolsley followed it up with two second place finishes with Jungle Love and Miss Bella in races 3 and 4, before Heukbaram (Exploit) landed race 5. Aoki then went on to score another second place in the last aboard Yu Chung Yeol’s Geungnak Seonnyo, who was beaten by favourite Ecton Legacy.

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Saturday Round-Up

Bonsol, Geumbi, Lady Hazzys Step-up

It’s the President’s Cup tomorrow, but there was still a competitive afternoon of racing at Seoul Race Park this afternoon.

In co-feature races, there were wins for Bonsol and Geumbi. Earlier this year, Bonsol had been talked about as a possible Classic contender. In the end, the only one of the Triple Crown races he took part in was the Minister’s Cup last month, when he finished a disappointing ninth. Today, however, he made no mistake, as he comfortably dispatched a class 2 field by a length and a half.

Flying Punch and Choi Bum Hyun hit the front in race 5 at Seoul

As for Geumbi (Ecton Park), the three-year old US-bred filly was going into her first race at class 2 with a record of three wins from six starts. She made it four from seven under the floodlights with a dominant performance, leading home second place Gippeum Sesang by eight lengths.

Simple Win: Lady Hazzys

Earlier, promising import Lady Hazzys (Lightnin N’Thunder) had made it two wins from two starts as she breezed to a half-length win from fellow highly thought of two-year old Manchester Miss (Van Nistelrooy) in race 6. On a beautiful afternoon in the Korean capital, Lady Hazzys wasn’t the only grey to win as earlier, three-year old Flying Punch (Volponi) landed his second career victory. It was also a good day for jockey Hiro Hamada. The Japanese rider picked up his third Korean win, taking victory by a nose on Daltanyang in race 7.

Tomorrow it’s the big one. The President’s Cup is underway at 17:00 and is the highlight of an eleven race card at Seoul with the first race at 11:20. Busan also hosts a card with six races from 12:40 to 16:30.

In Sunshine & Shadow: Seoul Racecourse, November 13, 2010

Han Sang Kyu, Classic Winning Jockey, 1978-2010

There was sad news from Busan this week as jockey Han Sang Kyu passed away on Monday. The thirty-two year old never regained consciousness after being involved in a car accident in the city last Thursday.

Han Sang Kyu and Pangpang win the 2009 Korean Oaks (KRA)

Han Sang Kyu turned professional in September 2002, in the same graduating class as, among others, You Hyun Myung, Gu Min Sung and Lee Ae Li. Initially riding at Seoul Race Park, he joined the group of riders relocating to the new track at Busan upon its opening in 2005.

During his career, Han rode 129 winners from 1515 rides. He achieved his first major race win in 2008, when he partnered outsider Wonder Love to victory in that year’s Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup. The following year would see his biggest triumph as on Pangpang, he reeled in and overhauled the odds-on favourite Sangseung Ilro in the final furlong to win the Korean Oaks

Han Sang Kyu: 1978-2010

Han Sang Kyu had recently been appointed retained jockey to trainer Joe Murphy. His first rides for his new employer were set for the day after his accident. As it was, his last day of racing was October 31.

A funeral service was held for Han at the KRA’s Busan auditorium on Wednesday. In attendance were his family including his wife, sister and parents. Well liked in the Korean racing community, many jockeys, trainers and officials from both Busan and Seoul were also there.

Han Sang Kyu was married this spring and is survived by his wife, who is expecting their first child.

Here is his 2009 Oaks win on Pangpang:

Pictures from KRA via Chulgigi

It’s Seoul vs Busan In President’s Cup

Weekend Preview: Dangdae Bulpae / Cheonnyeon Daero / Triple Seven

Seoul is locked down for the G20 summit, but it’s G1 that we’re interested in here and the G1 President’s Cup, the biggest race on the calendar restricted to Korean-bred horses which will be run at Seoul Race Park on Sunday.

Favourite: Dangdae Bulpae

It brings together not only the year’s top three-year olds to face their seniors but also pits Seoul horses against their counterparts from Busan for the sixth time this year. Seoul leads three to two but it is Busan who will be favoured to come away on top on Sunday.

Dangdae Bulpae heads the field. Third in the Derby but a runaway winner of the Minister’s Cup, he’s already beaten older horses in the Gyeongnam Governer’s Cup. Cheonnyeon Daero won the Derby, but was a distant second in the Minister’s Cup and will have to find plenty more to win here. Third in the Minister’s Cup was Glory Yeonggwang, the surprise winner of the Gold Circle Trophy and improving with every race – he’ll have “Mr Pink” Toshio Uchida riding him on Sunday.

All to do: Cheonnyeon Daero

Three older horses also come up from Busan. Yeonseung Daero has been a frustrating talent over the past two years, but he ran Tough Win a very close second in the Busan Metropolitan and on his day, can beat anyway. Golden Appeal has only lost to Dangdae Bulpae in his last four outings while Lucky Dancer is likewise in good form.

For the home team, Ttukseom Cup winner Triple Seven is the biggest name, however, the five year old has been in indifferent form recently and was beaten last month by another runner, Natural Guy, who himself will need to improve a lot to have a chance to win this. Geumgani is improving, with three wins out of his last four, including the Munhwa Ilbo Cup, while Suseong TX was an impressive winner of a class 1 handicap last month. Holy Dreamer, Money Teukgeup, Baengnyeonbong and Hongji complete a field where none can be ruled out entirely.

Home Team Hope: Triple Seven

It’s set to be a great race and will be the culmination of a weekend of racing on the peninsula which begins at Busan and Jeju on Friday and moves to the capital on Saturday before both Seoul and Busan stage meetings on Sunday.

Six jockeys from Busan will be in the capital to ride in the President’s Cup. Jo Sung Gon will be joined by Lim Sung Sil, Park Geum Man, Chae Gyu Jun, Choi Si Dae and Toshio Uchida. Busan is currently mourning the death of jockey Han Sang Kyu in a car accident earlier this week.

Here’s a full list of runners and riders in the President’s Cup:

President’s Cup (KOR.GI) – Seoul Race Park – 2000M – November 14, 2010, 17:00

1. Geumgangi (SEOUL) C (16/5/4/1) – Cho Kyoung Ho
2. Lucky Dancer (BUSAN) H (23/10/3/2) – Chae Gyu Jun
3. Golden Appeal (BUSAN) C (14/9/3/1) – Lim Sung Sil
4. Glory Yeonggwang (BUSAN) C (15/4/2/4) – Toshio Uchida
5. Baengnyeonbong (SEOUL) C (21/7/2/7) – Oh Kyoung Hoan
6. Dangdae Bulpae (BUSAN) C (11/8/0/1) – Jo Sung Gon
7. Cheonnyeon Daero (BUSAN) C (14/4/6/2) – Park Geum Man
8. Triple Seven (SEOUL) H (30/10/4/6) – Choi Bum Hyun
9. Natural Guy (SEOUL) G (27/5/6/2) – Yoon Tae Hyoug
10. Holy Dreamer (SEOUL) G (15/8/0/1) – Jo In Kwen
11. Yeonseung Daero (BUSAN) C (25/11/4/3) – Choi Si Dae
12. Money Teukgeup (SEOUL) C (21/6/4/4) – Park Tae Jong
13. Hongji (SEOUL) H (35/9/11/4) – Lee Sang Hyeok
14. Suseong TX (SEOUL) H (17/6/3/3) – Moon Se Young

And here’s what’s happening where and when this weekend:

Friday November 12

Busan Race Park: 11 races from 11:30 to 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 10 races from 13:00 to 17:30

Saturday November 13

Seoul Race Park: 12 races from 11:20 to 17:40
Jeju Race Park: 10 races from 12:10 to 17:30

Sunday November 14

Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:20 to 18:10
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:40 to 16:30

Radioactive Casino Chips

Men Reportedly Planned To Use Geiger Counter to Beat Game!

Not racing related but another insight into the shady world of illegal gambling in Korea which is evidently flourishing. The Joongang Ilbo reports that police in Siheung, Gyeonggi Province (about 30km south of Seoul) have arrested two Vietnamese men after a raid on a farm thought to be used by an illegal gambling ring.

Nothing unusual about that, but the paper goes on to report that the men were found in posession of twelve small pieces of radioactive material. These pieces were to be slipped inside small gambling chips made of paper and used in a “Vietnamese Guessing Game” – the two sides are painted different colours and the men allegedly planned to use a geiger counter to correctly determine which side would be facing up.

The news comes a day after the same paper reported on another Vietnamese gambling ring, this time in North Gyeongsang province. This one was reportedly taking illegal bets on the Vietnamese National Lottery.

* While the only radioactive things at the racecourse this weekend were Gyongmaman’s predictions, on the racing regulatory front, trials of the Electronic Card that the National Gaming Control Commission (NGCC) hopes to make compulsory for all legal gamblers, are underway. An interesting possibility was raised this weekend though in that in order to sweeten the deal for punters, the card would also act as a “mileage card” with bettors potentially getting a 1% rebate on all wagers. As of now, however, it’s pure speculation.

Back On Top

Former Champion Top Point Wins Again

When she won the KRA Cup Classic last year to become Seoul’s Champion Filly or Mare, few would have thought it would be fifteen months until Top Point returned to the Winner’s Circle. Injury restricted her to just one more outing in 2009 and kept her off the track until August this year where a third place finish wasn’t enough to get her into last week’s Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup, which this year replaced the Cup Classic as Seoul’s top race for fillies and mares.

Top Point in the Winner's Circle again

In winning the Gyeonggi Cup, Love Cat may have taken Top Point’s crown away, but the six-year old showed that she is far from done with a narrow win in the feature handicap under the lights at a dark and misty Seoul Race Park this afternoon. It was an impressive performance. The 1900 metre race included Seoul’s top-rated Korean three-year old Ace Galloper as well as prolific winners Jilpunggangho, Khanui Jeguk and Big Easy.

In the end, all three of those were beaten as it came down to a final furlong duel between Top Point and 6/1 shot Blue Pin. Under Shin Hyoung Chul, it was the big mare who got the better of it, just holding off the colt by a nose on the line. The win was Top Point’s fifteenth in a twenty-five race career. She has only been out of the money once.

It was a foggy day at Seoul Race Park

Earlier, Kanui Byeol, fourth in the Oaks back in August, got back to winning ways with a smart win in the class 3 race 9. while US bred Consistent Success (High Yield) scored a win at class 2 level which will see him elevated into the elite ranks next time out.

There was defeat, however, for the much hyped Choegoro. The three-year old gelding had strolled to victory in his last two outings and was long odds-on as he stepped up to seven furlongs in race 7. However, despite leading until well into the home straight, the favourite ran out of steam and he field swept past. Hitting the line first was 80/1 outsider Geumbit Teukgeup, the four-year old providing another winner for in-form veteran jockey Kim Gui Bae.

After last week's double, Kim Gui Bae didn't take long to get back in the winner's circle

Despite pleasant temperatures, the fog and smog – made worse by an unseasonal yellow dust storm – meant the floodlights came on much earlier than planned and gave the track an eerie, even bleak, feel. Meanwhile, in slightly brighter conditions on Jeju Island, the special race in honour of the island’s “Farmer’s Day” was won by five-year old pony Seongbulsingi, who started favourite for the race which, at 1800 metres, is one of the island’s longest of the year.

Class 1 Handicap – Seoul Race Park – 1900M – November 6, 2010

1. Top Point (KOR) [Tom Cruiser – Mooncello (Northern Baby)] – Shin Hyoung Chul – 8.7, 2.1
2. Blue Pin (KOR) [Lion Heart – Telegraph Road (Royal Academy)] – Cho Kyoung Ho – 1.7
3. Jilpunggangho (KOR) [Max’s Pal – Spicy Soup (Alphabet Soup)] – Yoon Tae Hyoug – 2.0
Distances: Nose/3 lengths – 14 ran

Racing returns to Seoul tomorrow with eleven races from 11:20 to 18:00. Busan runs six races from 12:40 to 16:30.

Seoul Race Park - November 6, 2010

Mr Pink Returns To Busan

Toshio Uchida Draws a Blank on Korean Return

Ever since he left Korea at the very end of 2008, there have been constant whispers that he might return. First he was only going to be away until the end of Spring – “He’s gone to spend his money, but he’ll be back to get some more”, local jockeys muttered darkly in the Busan weighing room. Weeks turned into months and then a year. Still the speculation continued though and today Toshio Uchida “Mr Pink” – friend of the punters – made his return to Busan Race Park twenty-two months after he left.

No wins today but Mr Pink is back (Pic: KRA)

Veteran Japanese jockey Uchida arrived in Korea in May 2008. He quickly proved himself to be a class act in the saddle; able to judge the pace of a race far more effectively than the local riders – the legacy of nearly thirty years of experience in Japan. He quickly became something of a phenomenon at Busan. Throughout the rest of the year, headlines such as “Uchida Lands Five at Busan” and “Uchida Dominates Busan” became a regular Friday night ritual on this blog.

Despite giving his rivals a four-month head start, he raced away with the 2008 Jockey Title at Busan, scoring a total of 69 winners from 311 mounts. Such was his popularity that when he made his only appearance at Seoul Race Park on Minister’s Cup weekend that autumn, the capital’s punters chanted his name and thronged the paddock ten-deep to get a close up view of the man who had suddenly made them pay attention to the Busan simulcast.

Today Uchida had a quiet day. Debuting in race 4 on Joe Murphy’s Beautiful Bogo, he finished last of nine and didn’t get much closer despite a couple of reasonably well-fancied runners among his five rides; fourth place on Cheonman Yeongung being his only money finish.

Uchida is back in Korea on a short-term license. Punters will hope it’s for the long term. He joins a very strong Japanese contingent at the southern track in the shape of Yoshi Aoki and Hitomi Miyashita.

* In the feature race at Busan today, Winning Perfect was the shock 38/1 victor in the feature race. The three-year old colt held off favourite Triple Sinhwa in the ten-furlong handicap. Racing returns to Busan on Sunday when there are six races from 12:40 to 16:30. Uchida has two rides.