Dongbanui Gangja, Tough Win, Dangdae Bulpae, Mister Park, Yeonseung Daero – This is the Big One
Something’s got to give. In fact, a lot has got to give. Will it be Dongbanui Gangja’s two-year reign as Grand Prix champion? Mister Park’s ten-race unbeaten streak? Tough Win’s lifetime unbeaten streak? It could be all three; right now the only certainty about tomorrow’s Grand Prix Stakes is that it’s going to be very cold when twelve of Korea’s best horses line up at Seoul Race Park for the nation’s most prestigious horse race.
Most see it as a straight fight between Dongbanui Gangja and Tough Win. The younger Tough Win is undoubtedly faster. If this was any race other than the Grand Prix, which is run at 2300 metres, he’d be long odds-on. However, he’s untried at the distance and if he does not stay-on, Dongbanui Gangja is the most likely to take advantage and claim an unprecedented third consecutive Grand Prix. If he could do it, he will have a strong claim to be called the greatest ever in Korean racing.
However, there are three horses among the seven raiders from Busan who warrant serious consideration. Dangdae Bulpae is the outstanding Korean colt of this year and has been just as fast as Tough Win in winning the Minister’s and President’s Cups. Victory for him would be a huge step forward for the Korean breeding industry. Mister Park, though born in Korea, was sired elsewhere and therefore couldn’t run in the Classics. He’s unproven but also untested at this level and could pull off a surprise.
Then there’s Yeonseung Daero. When Dongbanui Gangja eliminated himself from the Busan Metropolitan, it was Yeonseung Daero who pushed Tough Win all the way to the line. If he’d have had a few more metres, he may have got him. Tomorrow he’ll have 300 more metres in which to do so.
Today, at a bitterly cold Seoul Race Park the jockeys of both Tough Win and Dongbnaui Gangja warmed up with wins. Cho Kyoung Ho landed four victories while Choi Bum Hyun took two. Neither could win the feature race, however, as Holy Dreamer was guided to his ninth career victory by Jo In Kwen.
Well back in the field was Baekpa, the 2007 Oaks winner putting in a disappointing run after being sent off favourite. Baekpa was fifth in the 2008 Grand Prix – after being allowed to trail 30 lengths off the pace on the first turn. That was her last run in Korea before a disastrous spell in the United States after which she returned a different horse. Nevertheless she remains popular. In the paddock, several punters called out her name and waved as she passed – As she has always done, she turned to look at each and every one of them.
Baekpa’s jockey today was Park Tae Jong, who will ride Larrycat in the Grand Prix. Jo In Kwen meanwhile will have his first ever Grand Prix ride on Jumong. What a story it would be if the little brother of 2007 winner Bally Brae was the one to pull off a surprise. Here’s a final rundown of tomorrow’s runners and riders:
Grand Prix (GI) – Seoul Race Park – 2300M – December 12, 2010 – 17:00
1. Mister Park (KOR) – You Hyun Myung
2. Dongbanui Gangja (USA) – Choi Bum Hyun
3. Seonnyang Yongsa (AUS) – Jo Sung Gon
4. Jumong (USA) – Jo In Kwen
5. Gunham (NZ) – Kim Dong Young
6. Yeonseung Daero (KOR) – Choi Si Dae
7. Global Champ (AUS) – Mun Jung Won
8. Dangdae Bulpae (KOR) – Jo Chang Wook
9. Purely Spontaneus (USA) – Lim Sung Sil
10. Tough Win (USA) – Cho Kyoung Ho
11. Larrycat (USA) – Park Tae Jong
12. Cheonjidolpung (USA) – Boo Min Ho
Gyongmaman’s Verdict: Tough Win has answered every question put to him so far and there’s no reason why he can’t do so tomorrow. Gyongmaman will, however, be rooting for Dongbanui Gangja to make history with a third straight Grand Prix victory.