Mister Park Romps To Grand Prix Glory

Tough Win & Dongbanui Gangja Upset As Busan’s Finest Captures The Grand Prix

They all put their reputations on the line and at the end of the 2010 Grand Prix Stakes, it was Mister Park who came out covered in glory while Tough Win, Dongbanui Gangja and Dangdae Bulpae all slumped to defeats of varying ignominy. Yet it was a performance full of valour, spirit and ultimately stamina from Mister Park, who capped a front-running performance by repelling the late charge of Larrycat at the end of the season’s longest and most prestigious race.

Mister Park and You Hyun Myung in the Grand Prix Winner's Circle. Trainer Kim Young Kwan is to the right

As it always does, the Grand Prix provided Korean racing’s most dramatic and absorbing few minutes of the year. From the raucous reception the horses and jockeys received in the paddock, to the triumphant celebration of the winning connections twenty minutes later, as ever it was unlike anything else in the calendar. As dusk fell on Seoul Race Park, we saw a race that won’t be quickly forgotten.

The unbeaten Tough Win was sent off as slight favourite over double Grand Prix champion Dongbanui Gangja with Dangdae Bulpae third in punters’ reckoning. And it was Dangdae Bulpae who was sent into an early lead by jockey Jo Chang Wook with Yoo Hyun Myung on Mister Park and Cho Kyoung Ho on Tough Win following close behind. A roar went up from the assembled 50,000 crowd as Choi Bum Hyun brought Dongbanui Gangja into contention in the back straight. As they turned for home, all the leading contenders were exactly where they wanted to be.

Mister Park finally shakes off Larrycat in the last few metres of the Grand Prix

Dongbnaui Gangja was the first to falter. He blew his chance in the Busan Metropolitan by going uncontrollably wide and although Choi Bum Hyun fought valiantly, the bad habit returned. The champion had given himself too much to do. Then it was the turn of Dangdae Bulpae. The Minister’s and President’s Cup winner tried to kick on as they entered the home straight but he had nothing left to give and the field swallowed him up. Mister Park and Larrycat were still travelling well with a furlong and a half to go.

Beaten: Tough Win returns a loser for the first time

Now it was make or break time for Tough Win; he needed to find an extra gear. He couldn’t. Mister Park hit the front with Larrycat and Yeonseung Daero, who had emerged from nowhere, in hot pursuit. In the final furlong Larrycat looked to have him collared but You Hyun Myung found one last reserve of energy in his mount to propel them over the line first. Larrycat was a brave second and Yeonseung Daero a superb third. Tough Win battled home for fourth while Seonnyang Yongsa and Jo Sung Gon flew through the field in the final furlong to claim the last of the money placings.

Mister Park, a three-year old gelding, was born in Korea, however, he was ineligible for this year’s Classics as he was sired overseas and his dam imported to Korea while pregnant. His sire, Ecton Park, has since also been brought to Korea and the success of a horse foaled and broken-in in the country is a victory for the domestic racing scene. Mister Park, while beaten on his racecourse debut, has since won eleven in a row. For jockey Yoo Hyun Myung, it was by far the biggest win of his career. For trainer Kim Young Kwan, a man used to success, this must rate as his greatest achievement coming as it does, at the end of a year which after events in March, must have been the most difficult for him both personally and professionally

Inquest: Choi Bum Hyun watches a replay to see how it all went wrong

As for Tough Win, 2300 metres was always going to be a tough ask. His unbeaten record is now gone, but he remains top horse at Seoul. His inevitable battles to come with Larrycat, now himself firmly established among the elite are something for us to look forward to in 2011.

Likewise, Dangdae Bulpae simply didn’t stay the distance. This is a colt who will be back next year. For Dongbanui Gangja though, things are less straightforward. He was beaten by seven lengths today, however he cost himself more than that by running wide on the final turn. This is the second time it’s happened this year as the five-year old – now a stallion – gets harder and harder to control.

A word too is necessary for Yeonseung Daero who again gave a courageous, battling performance. It would have been so easy for his connections to keep him home at Busan running against fellow Korean-bred horses and cherry-picking big purses. As always they showed themselves to be sportsmen, pitching their champion against the best there is and letting him prove himself. Yeonseung Daero almost always runs in open company and today he was just three lengths off being crowned the best of the best.

That title, however, goes to Mister Park. 16/1 in the betting he outran and outstayed the rest. Running nine times and winning nine times, he is the Champion Korean Racehorse of 2010.

Grand Prix Stakes (KOR.G.I) – Seoul Race Park – 2300M – December 12, 2010

1. Mister Park (KOR) [Ecton Park – Formal Deal (Formal Gold)] – You Hyun Myung – 16.8, 3.4
2. Larry Cat (USA) [Fantasticat – Tiger In My Tank (Tank)] – Park Tae Jong – 2.9
3. Yeonseung Daero (KOR) [Creek Cat – Sensationalkris (Cryptoclearance)] – Choi Si Dae – 2.6

Distances: 0.5 lengths/2.5 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Tough Win 5. Seonnyang Yongsa 6. Purely Spontaneus 7. Dongbanui Gangja 8. Jumong 9. Gunham 10. Cheonjidolpung 11. Dangdae Bulpae 12. Glory Champ

Job Well Done: Mister Park and Groom share a moment in the Winner's Circle

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