Day: January 23, 2011

Snow Forces Early Seoul Finish

Racing Abandoned in the Capital / Yeonseung Daero Wins at Busan

A full-on blizzard mid-way through the card caused racing at Seoul to be abandoned this afternoon. Six races had been completed by the time the decision was made that conditions were no longer safe.

The big screen announces the least surprising news of the day - that racing at Seoul was abandoned after 6 races

While there had been a few flakes drifting in the air when racing got underway at 11:20 this morning, there was little indication of what was to follow. By race 4, snow was falling steadily and then settling on the track. With the driving blizzard limiting visibility, the floodlights were switched on after race 5, however, with the horses at the post for race 6, jockeys dismounted while as much snow was cleared from the track as possible.

A few hardy punters watch Park Tae Jong guide Yeongung Icheon to victory in what would prove to be the last race before Seoul was abandoned

They got back on and Park Tae Jong guided favourite Yeongung Icheon to a victory that could be barely made out on the TV cameras, let alone by the punters sheltering in the grandstand. While efforts were made to continue, it quickly became apparent that such was the volume of snow, horses were finding it difficult to walk in the paddock, let alone on the track.

Kim Hae Sun contemplates getting on her horse in the snow-filled paddock

Shortly after 3pm, it was announced that racing was abandoned for the day. Unlike the last time this happened, there were no near-riots from punters – the time of day and the obviously dreadful conditions contrasting with the day in 2009 when in bright sunshine and with punters having just paid their entry fee, the track was deemed to be frozen.

Seoul’s abandonment meant that all eyes were shifted south to Busan for the southern track’s co-feature races. In the first of them, favourite Areumdaun Jilju put in a disappointing run as Deep Desire took the honours. The four-year old led home rank outsider Boulogne by just over half a length to record the sixth win of his twelve race career.

At least someone had fun at Seoul today

That race was restricted to Korean breds but the finale was open to all. Yeonseung Daero, despite being eligible for the domestic races, was sent out against foreign opposition. And as he usually does, he beat them. Now five-years old, Yeonseung Daero was well-placed throughout and pounced with just over a furlong to go to win by a length and a half from Heukjanggun and Haengbok Dream.

Korean racing needs more horses to be campaigned the way Yeonseung Daero has been. His career record reads just twelve wins from twenty eight starts. However, since turning four, he has only competed in races restricted to Korean bred horses twice – both Major Stakes races. Instead of harvesting comparatively easier handicaps, he’s taken on the best of the imports, culminating in his third place finish in the Grand Prix at Seoul last month.

So that’s racing over with for another week. We never got to see Cheonun take on Triple Seven in Seoul’s feature but all those abandoned races will be rescheduled as additions to forthcoming cards.

Punters head home early after Seoul is abandoned