Horse Of The Year Tough Win conquered both the wind and the weights to record his eleventh victory from just thirteen lifetime starts in the feature event at Seoul Race Park this afternoon.
Carrying a stiff 62 kilograms, 7 more than his closest rival in the 1900 metre handicap, the four-year old Tough Win [Yonaguska – Maggie May’s Sword (Sword Dance)] was still sent out as the odds-on favourite. And, ridden for the first time by Han Sung Yeol who was replacing the suspended Cho Kyoung Ho, he didn’t disappoint. Taking over the lead at the top of the home stretch, Tough Win seemed on course for an easy win as he built up a five length lead with a furlong to go despite the wicked head win that buffeted the runners all day long.
Emerging from the pack, however, was outsider Royal Missile. Under Park Tae Jong, the six-year old was carrying 12 kilos less than the favourite and it showed as they reeled in the leader, Han just managing to coax Tough Win over the line half a length ahead of the challenger. To underline their superiority, second favourite Baekjeonjeonseung was a full eight lengths back in third.
It was a gutsy performance from Tough Win and a good ride from Han Sung Yeol who pushed the gelding only as much as he absolutely had to given the weight he was carrying. But what next for Tough Win? 1900 metres is at the upper limit of what he is capable of and there isn’t likely to be much respite from the handicapper next time he runs. It seems likely that a defence of his Busan Metropolitan title in July is on the cards although while it’s not a handicap, the 2000 metres may prove too far. Either way, despite the limited options, the 2010 Horse of the Year remains a top talent.
Another top talent is Magic Party. When she won the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup last autumn she looked set for instant stardom. It’s taken a little longer for her to settle as a three-year old but today, in her third attempt at a race around two turns of the Seoul track, she was finally successful.
And an impressive display it was too as she stretched away from an otherwise almost fully male class 2 field to win race 9 by four lengths. Having been born in Korea but sired elsewhere, Magic Party [Artie Schiller – Gigi’s Magic (Allen’s Prospect)] isn’t eligible for the three-year old classics, but with five wins from eight starts in the bank, it may not be too long before we see her mixing it with the biggest names in Korean racing.
Down at Busan there was a filly who was already mixing it with the best for the first time today. Bulkkot Gisang (Langfuhr) had racked up an impressive seven wins from seven starts to graduate to the elite level. Today, she took her bow at class 1. Though sent off as favourite it didn’t go to plan. Under Jo Sung Gon, Bulkkot Gisang showed briefly at the front but had little to offer in the home straight eventually finishing ninth as second-favourite Mulbora scored a narrow victory over Great Value and Mupae Star.
Where to go from here? It’s a question that owners face the world over. For different reasons, connections of Bulkkot Gisang and Tough Win both have some thinking to do this evening.