Month: December 2011

Champion Jockey Over The Moon Again

Moon Se Young Wins Seoul Jockey Championship While Jo Sung Gon is the Stand-Out Winner at Busan

Moon Se Young has regained the title of Champion jockey at Seoul Race Park. The 31 year-old took the honour in 2008 and looked set to dominate for the forseeable future but a fall in 2009 and a lengthy suspension towards the end of last season saw him lose out until now. Even this time, injury saw him miss the final week of the season, allowing nearest – and only rival, Cho Kyoung Ho to close the gap at the top to just five wins.

Champion again: Moon Se Young

With Jo In Kwen in third place in only his third full season, the weighing room at Seoul is becoming ever more competitive. Kim Hae Sun becomes the first female rider to finish the season in the top ten and looks set to become go on to become a top-tier jockey.

Just outside the top ten, in eleventh place, was Jang Chu Yeol, who would surely have finished higher had he not recently spent six weeks in the USA where he became the first Korean-based jockey to ride a winner. He’ll be one to watch next year.

Also to watch will be Seo Seung Un who landed 12 wins in his first three months as a licensed jockey – a record. While Moon Se Young is on top at the moment, the next few seasons look sure to see a real changing of the guard in the winners’ circle.

Seoul Racecourse Jockey Championship 2011

1. Moon Se Young – 105
2. Cho Kyoung Ho – 100
3. Jo In Kwen – 70
4. Park Tae Jong – 68
5. Choi Bum Hyun – 61
6. Jung Ki Yong – 48
7. Oh Kyoung Hoan – 45
8. Moon Jung Kyun – 45
9. Shin Hyoung Chul – 38
10. Kim Hae Sun – 29

While the future looks very bright at Seoul, it’s difficult to say the same for Busan where the young jockeys coming through do not look to be of the same calibre. However, that takes nothing away from champion Jo Sung Gon who breezed to the title. Jo is head and shoulders above any other Korean rider at Busan although if the combined winners this year of Toshio Uchida (58) and his replacement Nathan Stanley (17) are taken into account, the foreigners ran him close (more on the foreign riders next week).

Jo Sung Gon was the runaway winner of the Busan Jockey Title

Life at Busan is pretty comfortable for him but Jo has previously indicated a desire to come to Seoul where he would face more competition for the big rides. An exchange program was mooted earlier this year and Cho Kyoung Ho was reportedly interested in going in the other direction. Nothing came of it but it is something that looks likely to be revisited in 2012.

Behind him Chae Gyu Jun had a solid season which included two big Stakes wins at Seoul while Kim Dong Young had a breakout year in third. You Hyun Myung’s season was disrupted by injury but he still ended in fourth, while fifth placed Park Geum Man ended the year reunited with former boss Peter Wolsley and if this continues in 2012, he may well have a better year:

Busan Racecourse Jockey Championship 2011

1. Jo Sung Gon – 84
2. Chae Gyu Jun – 66
3. Kim Dong Young – 55
4. You Hyun Myung – 49
5. Park Geum Man – 47
6. Choi Si Dae – 44
7. Lim Sung Sil – 28
8. Akane Yamamoto – 28
9. Jo Chang Wook – 27
10. Jo Chan Hoon – 22

The pony colony on Jeju Island saw the closest race of the three tracks and ultimately it was veteran rider Kim Yong Seob who came out on top:

Jeju Racecourse Jockey Championship 2011

1. Kim Yong Seob – 63
2. Jang Woo Sung – 60
3. Jeon Hyun Joon – 55
4. Hwang Tae Sun – 49
5. Moon Jung Ho – 45

Exploit is Leading Sire in Korea 2011

It came down to the last day of the season but while Menifee’s colt Magnifique won Seoul’s big race to close the gap to just a few thousand dollars, Exploit is the Leading Sire in Korea 2011.

Exploit - Leading SIre 2011

It’s a first Leading Sire crown for the fifteen year old who came to Korea in 2005. He finished seventh on the earnings list last year but, with more runners on the track than any other sire in the country, this year he was always best placed to succeed Creek Cat as champion.

However, with Menifee and Vicar in second and third – despite them both only having two crops of foals of racing age – in what was the closest race in years, it is likely to be a short reign for Exploit.

While Menifee and Vicar held a near monopoly on the three-year old classics, a year behind them is Forest Camp. He was by far and away the leading first-crop sire and also walks of with the title of leading sire of two-year olds. Ecton Park and Peace Rules are both due on stream soon and will be followed by the likes of Officer. The future is looking bright for breeding here.

American bred stallions accounted for none of the top ten money-earners with the Japanese Biwa Shinseiki occupying the final spot, due mainly to the continuing exploits of Dangdae Bulpae.

Leading Sires In Korea 2011 (Name/Pedigree/Owner/Earnings in Korean Won/Chief Earner)

1. Exploit (USA) [Storm Cat – My Turbulent Miss (My Dad George)] – (KRA) – 3,339,327,000 – Champion Belt
2. Menifee (USA) [Harlan-Anne Campbell (Never Bend)] – KRA – 3,333,776,000 – Useung Touch
3. Vicar (USA) [Wild Again-Escrow Agent (El Gran Senor)] – KRA – 3,248,167,000 – Dongseo Jeongbeol
4. Creek Cat (USA) [Storm Cat – Vivano (Island Whirl)] – (Evergreen Farm) – 2,980,533,000 – Cheonnyeon Daero
5. Concept Win (USA) [Manila – Conveniently (In Reality)] – (Korea Mainland Horse Breeders’ Association) – 2,674,959,000 – Hongji
6. War Zone (USA) [Danzig – Proflare (Mr. Prospector) – (KRA) – 2,201,102,000 – Black Ruby
7. Volponi (USA) [Cryptoclearance – Prom Night (Sir Harry Lewis)] (Korean Mainland Horse Breeders’ Association) – 2,045,542,000 – Crown Flag
8. Ft. Stockton (USA) [Cure The Blues – Tai The Devil (Tai)] (KRA) – 1,918,536,000 – Cheonun
9. Didyme (USA) [Dixieland Band – Soundings (Mr. Prospector)] – (KRA) – 1,915,015,000 – Mupae Star
10. Biwa Shinseiki (JPN) [Forty Niner – Oceana (Northern Dancer)] – (Kim Chong Sik) – 1,710,714,000 – Dangdae Bulpae

* Five registered stallions passed away in Korea this year. They were Yankee Victor (USA), Ft. Stockton (USA), The Groom Is Red (USA), Tayasu Meadow (JPN) and Air Smap (IRE).

Ft. Stockton sired the 2007 Korean Triple Crown winner JS. Hold while the best horse by The Groom Is Red was the hugely popular Classic winner Baekgwang.

Lion Santa Delivers A Gift To Jeonseong Sidae

Low-Key Closing Day At Seoul And Busan

Just over a week ago, two formidable unbeaten records were intact. Now, as we head into the Christmas break, both are gone. Last week Mister Park saw his unprecedented 17-race winning streak come to a valiant end at the hands of Tough Win in the Grand Prix Stakes. This week a horse who skipped the Grand Prix Lion Santa, was looking to make it a perfect 10 at Busan.

The lights were on as they paraded at Seoul for the last time in 2011

He came unstuck. Maybe because it was the break before an extended break or maybe it was because Nonghyup’s sponsorship had added a few million won to the purse but this handicap attracted a stronger field than usual. Nevertheless, Lion Santa was still sent off as the odds-on favourite. He may have won it too, had he not been left in a poor position rounding the home turn. By the time jockey Kim Dong Young had found a way through, second favourite Jeonseong Sidae was uncatchable. Lion Santa rallied for second but the record was gone.

Australian bred three-year old Jeonseong Sidae (Stromberg Carlson-Jessie’s Journey) is no mug. This was his sixth win from nine starts. As for Lion Santa (Lion Heart-Santa Fe Strip) the future is still bright, but connections may be wishing they’d taken the chance to go out in a blaze of glory at Seoul last week instead of with a whimper at Busan today.

Up at Seoul it was also a quiet closing day. The feature race was won by Magnifique (Menifee-Miss Beauty) who was making his debut at class 1. Kept off the classic trail, Magnifique was a late developer but may well turn to be the best of what has been a disappointing three-year old crop in Korea his year.

So that’s it for racing in 2011. While racing returns to the Korean peninsula on the first weekend of January, there’s an awful lot of news to catch up on before that which we’ll start to do this week.

Tough Win Grabs Grand Prix Glory

Tough Win Beats Mister Park & Smarty Moonhak to Win Korean Racing’s Showcase Race

Tough Win ended the seventeen run unbeaten streak of defending champion Mister Park as he took victory in a thrilling renewal of the Grand Prix Stakes at Seoul Race Park this afternoon.

The four-year old gelding was sent off third in the betting but made no mistake with a perfectly timed run as he came through late to overtake Mister Park in the final furlong and win by just over half a length.

As expected, Tamna Ace made the early running but it was Akane Yamamoto and Mister Park who quickly took over at the front. In the backstraight there was excitement as Shim Seung Tae brought the two-year old prodigy, Smarty Moonhak up alongside the leader and these two were neck and neck as they rounded the home turn.

Tough Win in the Grand Prix winner's circle

Behind them though, Tough Win and Cho Kyoung Ho had begun to make their move. In the home straight, Mister Park managed to shake Smarty Moonhak but on the outside, Tough Win was always closing and when he went by, Mister Park had no response.

It was a 14th win from 18 lifetime starts for Tough Win, a $12,000 purchase at the June 2009 Ocala Two-year old Sales. He suffered his first loss in this race last year and was out of the money for the only time in his career in this summer’s Busan Metropolitan. Today, however, everything came together as he scored the win his talent has always promised to deliver.

Mister Park - Unbeaten run came to an end

Mister Park’s front-running style means he always runs the risk of not having enough left in the home straight. Akane Yamamoto managed to control his pace well but he simply couldn’t hold on.

Completing the first three was the wildcard, Smarty Moonhak. In the build-up to the race, few people were talking about anything other than the first two-year old in the Grand Prix’s 30 year history to take his chance. Although he didn’t win, he proved he is the real deal.

Smarty Moonhak - Big run in third

There’s no disgrace in being beaten by a pair such as Tough Win and Mister Park and, having stayed the distance, he was six lengths clear of the fourth horse home. Provided he stays sound, at this moment in time, it is hard to see anything beating him next year. Tomorrow morning, updated rankings will be published and Smarty Moonhak will find himself the first two-year old ever to be promoted to Class 1, the highest level of racing here.

As for the others, 2010 Korean Derby winner Cheonnyeon Daero went quietly into retirement in 9th place while KRA Cup Classic winner Ace Galloper was a disappointing 11th. Peter Wolsley’s first attempt at a Grand Prix was not a happy one with the grey Gyeongkwaehanjilju tailing the field home in 14th.

Today though was about three top horses. One has the Korean racing world abuzz with his potential and ran today like no two-year old should; one met with no disgrace as he saw his record-breaking winning streak come to a battling end. The other, Tough Win, is Korea’s Champion Racehorse of 2011.

Grand Prix Stakes (KOR G1) – Seoul Race Park – 2300M – December 11, 2011

1. Tough Win (USA) [Yonaguska-Maggie May’s Sword (Sword Dance)] – Cho Kyoung Ho – 5.2, 1.7
2. Mister Park (KOR) [Ecton Park-Formal Deal (Formal Gold)] – Akane Yamamoto – 1.3
3. Smarty Moonhak (USA) [Smarty Jones-Madeira M’Dear (Black Tie Affair)] – Shim Seung Tae – 2.0

Distances: 0.75 lengths/1.5 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Tamna Ace (KOR) 5. Dongseo Jeongbeol (KOR) 6. Triple Sinhwa (KOR) 7. Queen Of Rain (USA) 8. Yeonseung Daero (KOR) 9. Cheonnyeon Daero (KOR) 10. Gippeun Sesang 11. Ace Galloper 12. Jumong 13. Yodongjewang 14. Gyeongkwaehanjilju

Tough Win wins the Grand Prix in front of a packed house at Seoul Racecourse (Pic: E-Today)

Grand Prix: The Final Rundown

The Grand Prix Stakes is the highlight of the Korean racing year. It’s not the most valuable race but it is unquestionably the best. This year, we have the defending champion Mister Park, looking to stretch his unbeaten run to 18, an Australian trainer looking to make Korean racing history, and a two-year old who, if he is as good as his hype, could be the best thing we’ve seen on the peninsula for years.

Grand Prix Champion: Mister Park

It’s going to be cold but it’s free entry to Seoul Race Park tomorrow and there should be 60,000 in attendance for what is going to be an absolute belter of a race. Here’s the rundown on all the contenders with pedigrees, age, home track, race records and jockey:

Grand Prix Stakes (KOR G1) – Seoul Race Park – 2300M – Sunday December 11, 16:35

1. Yeonseung Daero (KOR) [Creek Cat-Sensationalkris (Cryptoclearance)] Horse, 5, Busan (37/15/7/5) – Choi Si Dae
A really nice horse who would have a far better win record had his connections not been sportsmen and always run him in the most competitive company possible. Third in this race last year and winner of the Busan Metropolitan this summer but has put in three disappointing runs since. He can never be ruled out and could be a value bet.

2. Queen Of Rain (USA) [Lion Heart-Prosperous Move (Arch)] Filly, 3, Busan (13/4/2/3) – Song Keong Yun
The only filly in the race is tough to recommend. She was a well beaten fourth in the Gyeongnam Sinmun last month and is in far stronger company here.

3. Tough Win (USA) [Yonaguska-Maggie May’s Sword (Sword Dance)] Gelding, 4, Seoul (17/13/2/0) – Cho Kyoung Ho
Last year’s favourite didn’t get the distance and in his last Stakes race got sucked into a ridiculous speed duel into the first corner with Dangdae Bulpae which left both of them exhausted, handing victory to Yeonseung Daero. He’s back in winning form though and, while the distance remains a concern, he’ll be among the top three in the betting for good reason.

4. Smarty Moonhak (USA) [Smarty Jones-Maderia M’Dear (Black Tie Affair)] Colt, 2, Seoul (5/4/1/0) – Shim Seung Tae
The wildcard. A two-year old has never even run in the Grand Prix, let alone won it. We knew Smarty Moonhak was a little different to most imports who win a few races easily as a juvenile when he trotted up in the TJK Trophy last month but jaws dropped when he was entered for the Grand Prix. He’s worked well and connections are adamant that the distance is no problem and he’s ready. It’s a big test for jockey Shim Seung Tae because if Smarty Moonhak does indeed stay the distance, things are going to get very interesting. A potential superstar, there’s no downside to this colt. Except that he is two.

5. Cheonnyeon Daero (KOR) [Creek Cat-Doneitmyway (Northen Flagship)] Colt, 4, Busan (27/7/14/3) – Park Geum Man
This will be the final race for the 2010 Korean Derby winner before he is retired to stud. The trouble with him is that he keeps on coming second – he’s been runner-up in his last five races. He’s a very good bet to be second again but winning may be pushing it. If he did, however, it would be a fine finale to a very fine career.

6. Tamna Ace (KOR) [Thunder Gulch-Eacape (A.P. Indy)] Colt, 3, Busan (12/9/2/0) – Kim Dong Young
A good solid performer, while he’s got the stamina, he perhaps hasn’t got the speed that will be needed at the end of this race. A placing chance. He’ll likely make the early running so will certainly have a big impact on the outcome of the race.

7. Gippeun Sesang (CAN) [Behrens-Bellus (Saint Ballado)] Horse, 5, Seoul (40/4/4/4) – Choi Bum Hyun
Not a whole lot to recommend this one. Has been in poor form since winning a handicap in Septemebr and on paper is the weakest of all entrants.

8. Triple Sinhwa (KOR) [Capital Spending-Claudia’s Secret (Crafty Prospector)] Colt, 4, Busan (20/6/7/2) – Lee Sung Jae
A perennial placer, Triple Sinhwa will be hard pushed to achieve that here. Second to 2008 Derby Winner Ebony Storm last time out, the competition should be too strong.

9. Mister Park (KOR) [Ecton Park-Formal Deal (Formal Gold)] Gelding, 4, Busan (18/17/0/1) – Akane Yamamoto
The defending Champion. The favourite. He’s won his last 17 races, a Korean record but this is his toughest test. Akane Yamamoto has the chance to become to the first foreign jockey to win the Grand Prix and she’ll have to be at her best here. Mister Park likes to start quickly so it will be important that he doesn’t get sucked into an early speed battle. Get this right and in the home straight, he has all the weapons needed to become the third horse to win two Grand Prixs and take that record to eighteen unbeaten.

10. Yodongjewang (KOR) [Field Asuka-Mary Wonder (Shahrastani)] Colt, 4, Seoul (14/5/4/1) – Moon Se Young
A late developer, this is his first ever start at class 1. However, he should find himself outclassed here.

11. Jumong (USA) [Johar-Foreign Aid (Danzig)] Colt, 4, Seoul (24/8/4/4) – Jo In Kwen
He’s the half-brother of 2005 winner – the legendary Subsidy, last son of Mr Prospector, who cut his teeth on the inner-dirt at Aqueduct in New York before being brought to Korea to be a champion – but Jumong is a decent horse in his own right. The distance counts against him and there are others with better claims – he was well beaten by Ace Galloper in the KRA Cup Classic – but there may be some place value.

12. Dongseo Jeongbeol (KOR) [Vicar-Rendexvous Bay (Wonderloaf)] Colt, 3, Busan (13/7/1/0) – Chae Gyu Jun
That he’s the only three-year old Classic winner to make it to the Grand Prix isn’t his fault. However, it’s been a disappointing year for Korean bred three-year olds. He looked to be flying as they turned for home in the President’s Cup at Seoul last month but he ended up finishing almost last. It would be a big surprise if he returned to form here.

13. Gyeongkwaehanjilju (KOR) [Tapit-Cozzie Maxine (Cozzene)] Colt, 4, Busan (15/9/3/0) – Kim Nam Sung
Peter Wolsley has the chance to become the first foreign trainer to saddle a Grand Prix winner. The best horse Wolsley has trained in Korea, Gyeongkwaehanjilju is in great form and will love the distance. While he would be easier to bet had intended jockey Nathan Stanley not been suspended and had Jo Sung Gon, his previous regular rider, come to Seoul. Nevertheless, Wolsley’s stable jockey Kim Nam Sung gets the biggest chance of his career so far.

14. Ace Galloper (KOR) [Chapel Royal-Explicitly (Exploit)] Colt, 4, Seoul (21/15/3/1) – Park Tae Jong
The KRA Cup Classic winner and one of Mister Park’s biggest threats. The distance is a concern but the talent isn’t. If he’s there at the end, he’ll be very difficult to beat.

Gyongmaman’s verdict: Mister Park must be favourite to successfully defend his title and must be the pick for the win. Smarty Moonhak is the one to watch as a racing fan for the great story it would be but is not one to bet as a hard-hearted punter. The same is true of Gyeongkwaehanjilju. The value may lie with Yeonseung Daero.

Inoue Debuts With A Winner

Veteran Japanese jockey Toshihiko Inoue made the perfect start to his time in Korea, scoring a victory on his debut at Seoul Race Park today.

The 47 year old has notched over 1500 winners in a career dating back to 1983 and comes to Seoul Race Park on an initial four-month license.

Inoue had six rides today and started off by scoring a shock second place in race 1 on 30/1 outsider Huimang Daejakjeon. His win came in race 7, when he drove home 7/1 chance Gigomamnjang by a neck in a tight finish.

Inoue joins fellow Japanese riders Makoto Noda and Mai Beppu at Seoul. Noda has had a tough time, landing 6 wins from 258 rides while Beppu – who has proved popular with the local trainers (not to mention certain top jockeys) has scored 13 from 236, including one today.

Down at Busan where the locals are generally more amenable to foreogn riders, Eiki Nishimura and Akane Yamamoto are both enjoying successful spells. Akane will be in Seoul on Sunday to ride Mister Park in the Grand Prix Stakes.

Inoue has a further five rides on Sunday.

Grand Prix Field Confirmed – Mister Park, Ace Galloper, Smarty Moonhak All Run

The final field for Sunday’s Grand Prix Stakes has been confirmed and there have been no drop-outs from the public vote result that was announced last week. Defending Champion Mister Park heads the field while likely main rival Ace Galloper also goes. American import Smarty Moonhak will become the first two-year old to contest the rest.

A full preview will follow but in the meantime, here’s the full list of runners and riders:

Grand Prix Stakes (KOR G1) – Seoul Race Park – 2300M – Sunday December 11, 16:35

1. Yeonseung Daero (KOR) [Creek Cat-Sensationalkris (Cryptoclearance)] Horse, 5, Busan (37/15/7/5) – Choi Si Dae2. Queen Of Rain (USA) [Lion Heart-Prosperous Move (Arch)] Filly, 3, Busan (13/4/2/3) – Song Keong Yun
3. Tough Win (USA) [Yonaguska-Maggie May’s Sword (Sword Dance)] Gelding, 4, Seoul (17/13/2/0) – Cho Kyoung Ho
4. Smarty Moonhak (USA) [Smarty Jones-Maderia M’Dear (Black Tie Affair)] Colt, 2, Seoul (5/4/1/0) – Shim Seung Tae
5. Cheonnyeon Daero (KOR) [Creek Cat-Doneitmyway (Northen Flagship)] Colt, 4, Busan (27/7/14/3) – Park Geum Man
6. Tamna Ace (KOR) [Thunder Gulch-Eacape (A.P. Indy)] Colt, 3, Busan (12/9/2/0) – Kim Dong Young
7. Gippeun Sesang (CAN) [Behrens-Bellus (Saint Ballado)] Horse, 5, Seoul (40/4/4/4) – Choi Bum Hyun
8. Triple Sinhwa (KOR) [Capital Spending-Claudia’s Secret (Crafty Prospector)] Colt, 4, Busan (20/6/7/2) – Lee Sung Jae
9. Mister Park (KOR) [Ecton Park-Formal Deal (Formal Gold)] Gelding, 4, Busan (18/17/0/1) – Akane Yamamoto
10. Yodongjewang (KOR) [Field Asuka-Mary Wonder (Shahrastani)] Colt, 4, Seoul (14/5/4/1) – Moon Se Young
11. Jumong (USA) [Johar-Foreign Aid (Danzig)] Colt, 4, Seoul (24/8/4/4) – Jo In Kwen
12. Dongseo Jeongbeol (KOR) [Vicar-Rendexvous Bay (Wonderloaf)] Colt, 3, Busan (13/7/1/0) – Chae Gyu Jun
13. Gyeongkwaehanjilju (KOR) [Tapit-Cozzie Maxine (Cozzene)] Colt, 4, Busan (15/9/3/0) – Kim Nam Sung
14. Ace Galloper (KOR) [Chapel Royal-Explicitly (Exploit)] Colt, 4, Seoul (21/15/3/1) – Park Tae Jong

Thirty Years Of The Grand Prix

While other races may carry more prize money, in terms of honour and prestige, the Grand Prix Stakes is second to none in Korea. It’s a race that has had movies named after it and is, perhaps, the only domestic horse race to register in the national consciousness.

Mister Park - Defending Grand Prix Champion

Sunday sees the 30th edition of the race. It’s young in international terms, but in a country where the private ownership of racehorses – and therefore prize money and big Stakes races – go back less than two decades, it is positively venerable. With race fans invited to vote on which horses they want to see in the starting gate, it is the undisputed Championship race in Korea. There is no question of the best horses trying to avoid each other as there is nowhere else to go. In the Grand Prix, the best face the best.

This is because whereas the Classics are restricted to Korean bred entrants, the Grand Prix is open to all. Indeed in the previous 29 editions, home-bred horses have ended up in the winner’s circle just four times (including Mister Park who . Fillies or mares have won the race five times with Ka Shock Do taking back-to-back wins in 1990 and 1991.

The origin of the winners also shows the change in influence on Korean racing. Throughout the eighties and nineties, the vast majority of horses imported to Korea were from the Southern Hemisphere. This is reflected by Australian or New Zealand breds winning thirteen of the first sixteen runnings, compared with just one American. Since the turn of the century, the majority of imports have come from the USA and American breds have won six out of the last eight editions.

As recently as 1999, a non-thoroughbred was triumphant. Saegangja was by the established sire Fiercely, however, his dam Chuk Je, was not in the studbook. That won’t happen again as year on year, Korean racing gradually becomes more mature.

Last year’s winner Mister Park is likely to contend favouritism for this year’s race with Ace Galloper (Chapel Royal), another born in Korea after his pregnant dam was imported. The breeding stock in Korea is getting better and better and so are the resulting racehorses.

This year, while a couple of big names sit out – Dangdae Bulpae didn’t get the the distance last year while the unbeaten Lion Santa’s connections also believe their colt is not a 2300 metre horse, there are still plenty of potential stories among the potential winners.

It could be defending champion Mister Park, the impressive Tough Win and Ace Galloper, gutsy Yeonseung Daero, the retiring Cheonnyeon Daero or the two-year old phenom Smarty Moonhak. Also Peter Wolsley becomes the first foreign trainer to saddle a horse in the race as his Gyeongkwaehanjilu takes his chance – if the others beat themselves on the first corner, he just may be the one to benefit.

On Sunday Mister Park will seek to join Dongbanui Gangja, Ka Shock Do and the great Po Gyeong Seon as double winners of the race. He’s also looking to maintain the longest consecutive winning streak in Korean racing history. He’s got a massive task on his hands to prevent a new name being added to the list of horses below who, for one year at least, can claim to have been the undisputed best.

2010: Mister Park (KOR) [Ecton Park – Formal Deal (Formal Gold)]
2009: Dongbanui Gangja (USA) [Broken Vow – Maremaid (Storm Bird)]
2008: Dongbanui Gangja (USA) [Broken Vow – Maremaid (Storm Bird)]
2007: Bally Brae (USA) [Yarrow Brae – Political Bluff (Unaccounted For)] – Also has two second places to his name, in 2006 and 2008.
2006: Flying Cat (KOR) [Western Cat – Flying Wood (Tapping Wood)]
2005: Subsidy (USA) [Mr. Prospector – Foreign Aid (Danzig)]
2004: Value Play (USA) [Mt. Livermore – Return Of Mom (Deputy Minister)]
2003: Tempest West (USA) [Silent Tempest – Westabout (Gone West)]
2002: Bohamian Butler (USA) [Patton – Circus Princess (Forli)]
2001: Tahamkke (NZ) [Dance Floor – Cantango (Danzatore)]- has gone on to become a moderately successful sire in Korea
2000: Cheolgeoun Party (KOR) [Big Sur – Party Paint (Acaroid)] – The only Korean bred filly to win.
1999: Saegangja (KOR) [Fiercely – Chuk Je] (non-thoroughbred)
1998: Sin Se Dae (AUS) [Avon Valley – Meroo Star (Starboard Buoy)]
1997: P’Ulgeurim (NZ) [Crested Wave – Evocative (Sea Anchor)]
1996: Hula-Mingo (NZ) [Broadway Aly – Zamatina (Zamazaan)]
1995: Dae Kyeun (AUS) [Northern Regent – Romantic Evening (Sunset Hue)]
1994: Ji Goo Ryeok (AUS) [Pine Circle – Perfect Choice (Lunchtime)] – The first year prize-money was awarded, Ji Goo Ryeok’s connections took home 50 Million won. This year’s winner will receive 212 Million, the same as last year but slightly down on 2008. The Korean Derby is worth in excess of 250 Million to the winner.
1993: Gi Peun So Sik (NZ) [Bolak – Belserena (Serenader)]
1992: Chun Pung (NZ) [Coral Reef – Little Jo] (non-thorougbred)
1991: Ka Shock Do (NZ) [Engagement – Nursery Rhyme (Namnan)]- With her second , she became arguably the greatest filly to run in Korea. In all, she won twelve of her thirteen starts.
1990: Ka Shock Do (NZ) [Engagement – Nursery Rhyme (Namnan)]
1989: Cha Dol (USA) [Mr Redoy – Honest’N Do Right]
1988: Wang Bang Wool (AUS) [Moon Sammy – Aqua Nymph (Crepone)]
1987: Cheong Ha (AUS) [Suliman – Pigalle Wonder (Exalt)]
1986: Po Gyeong Seon (NZ) [Danseur Etoile – Leonotis (Lionhearted)] – with twenty wins from twenty-five starts, he is, along with Saegangja and J.S. Hold one of the three
1985: Po Gyeong Seon (NZ) [Danseur Etoile – Leonotis (Lionhearted)]

* Although this is the 30th running of the Grand Prix, Korean racing records officially only go back to 1985.

* This is an updated version of a post that appeared on this blog in the build up to last year’s Grand Prix. And the year before and the year…etc.

Dongbanui Gangja and Dongteuja Keep Maremaid’s Memory Alive

Siblings Win At Seoul & Busan

December is a month when punters expect to see Dongbanui Gangja [Broken Vow-Maremaid (Storm Bird)] in the winner’s circle. In 2009, he became the third horse – after 1980’s and 1990’s greats Po Gyeong Seon and Ka Shock Do – to win consecutive Grand Prix Stakes, Korea’s most prestigious race. This year, he wasn’t nominated and instead came to Seoul Race Park this weekend and comfortably dismissed a class 1 field by three lengths despite giving the whole lot of them a minimum of six kilos.

Back winning: Dongbanui Gangja and Choi Bum Hyun (Pic: KRA)

Just one week before his first Grand Prix triumph on the weekend before Christmas in 2008, Dongbanui Gangja’s dam, a then fourteen-year-old mare named Maremaid [Storm Bird-Isayso (Valid Appeal)] arrived in Korea having been bought by the Korea Horse Land breeding operation.

Dongbanui Gangja himself was a $20,000 purchase from the OBS Spring Two-year olds in Training sale at Ocala in 2007. He quickly established himself as a high-class performer and went unbeaten for twelve consecutive races between October 2008 and July 2010, during which time he won hs two Grand Prix’s and an Owners’ Trophy.

The rest of 2010 was a disappointment though. As a five-year old he had become increasingly difficult to control and he started to drift very wide in his races. There was talk of retirement. However, with a lot of training and a pair of pacifiers fitted, this year he has begun to show a little of his old form. It is great to have him back.

Apart from Dongbanui Gangja, Maremaid had produced six other foals who raced in the US. The best of them was a filly, Glitter Maid, by Glitterman, who won six of twenty-eight starts in the early 2000’s. When she arrived in Korea, she was heavily in foal to Montbrook. Sadly, she suffered complications while giving birth to a filly on February 12, 2009.

The filly survived, however, and this afternoon at Busan Race Park, Dongteuja [Montbrook-Maremaid (Storm Bird)] maintained her 100% record as she strolled to her fourth consecutive win since her debut in August. She has a long way to go before emulating her big brother but so far, she’s doing just fine.

Dongteuja was today ridden by Japanese jockey Akane Yamamoto. Akane went on to finish second by a head in the feature race on Goni (Wando) to hot favourite Champion Belt (Exploit). Champion Belt should have been ridden by Nathan Stanley, however, calamity struck for the prolific Australian rider on Friday as he picked up a three-month ban – an unusually strong punishment for in-race incidents in Korea that don’t involve non-trying – for his ride on Cheonjae Bogo in race 6 on Friday.

The suspension, which potentially ends Stanley’s time in Korea given his license expires at the end of December, means he will miss next week’s Grand Prix Stakes at Seoul. Akane will be there though riding Mister Park, last year’s winner as he attempts to emulate none other than Dongbanui Gangja and retain the biggest prize in Korean racing.

Dongbanui Gangja’s second Grand Prix in 2009:

Weekend Preview

Dongbanui Gangja / Grand First / Champion Belt

We’re just a week away from the Grand Prix, the climax of the Korean racing season, but there’s still

Double Grand Prix Winner: Dongbanui Gangja goes on Saturday

plenty going on across the peninsula this weekend.

Seoul has class 1 handicap headlining on both Saturday and Sunday. Double Grand Prix winner Dongbanui Gangja (Broken Vow) misses this year’s event but he’ll be in action in Saturday’s feature. While there are a number of decent, if less than intimidating, horses up against him, the thing that is most likely to stop the former Champion adding to his eighteen career victories is the weight – he’ll be carrying six kilos more than any other horse in the race. Sunday sees three-year old filly Grand First (Salt Lake) making her first appearance at the highest level as she takes on a beatable looking field in the feature race.

Down at Busan, US five-year old Purely Spontaneus (Pure Precision) makes just his third atrt of 2011 in the feature – he’s one of twelve rides for Akane Yamamoto over the weekend as she looks to build on her five wins a week ago. The now nine-year old Golding (Gold Alert) is one of just seven rivals.

However, Busan’s most intriguing contest of the weekend is on Sunday afternoon. Aussie jockey Nathan Stanley gets the nod to ride Champion Belt (Exploit) who many predict will go on to be the stand-out horse of his year-group (which so far has been pretty shoddy) in the feature race. To get on the favourite, however, Stanley has had to get off Khaosan (Sunday Well) on who he won the Busan Owners’ Stakes and finished fourth in the President’s Cup. In his absence, trainer Peter Wolsley has managed to secure the services of champion jockey Jo Sung Gon to ride the tough as nails Khaosan. Neither rider will be in a good mood if they lose this one.

Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday December 2

Busan Race Park: 10 races from 12:00 to 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 10 races from 13:00 to 17:30

Saturday December 3

Seoul Race Park: 12 races from 11:10 to 17:30
Jeju Race Park: 10 races from 12:30 to 17:50

Sunday December 4

Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:10 to 18:00
Busan Race Park: 7 races from 12:30 to 17:00

December can be cold but beautiful at Seoul Race Park