Retiring Cheonnyeon Daero Honoured At Busan

Derby Winner Was Chief Rival To Dangdae Bulpae

Cheonnyeon Daero, winner of the 2010 Korean Derby, was honoured with a retirement ceremony at Busan Race Park this afternoon. Such a ceremony is a rare occurrence in Korea racing and an honour only afforded to Classic or multiple Stakes winners.

Cheonnyeon Daero wins the 2010 Derby (Pic: Ross Holburt)

While his Derby win was impressive, Cheonnyeon Daero [Creek Cat-Doneitmyway (Northern Flagship)] will perhaps be remembered more for what he nearly won – and his rivalry with the horse that usually beat him – rather than for what he did win. Of his 28 starts, he only won 7 times but finished second on a remarkable 14 occasions, including the President’s, Minister’s, and Ttukseom Cups, plus the KNN and the Owners’ Trophies, with Dangdae Bulpae the horse beating him in all but the latter.

Cheonnyeon Daero

The rivalry between Dangdae Bulpae and Cheonnyeon Daero has been one of Korean racing’s most enduring features over the past two years. They faced each other seven times, always in Stakes races with Dangdae Bulpae getting the better of his rival on five occasions.

However, when they started out as three-year olds it was different. Cheonnyeon Daero finished third in the KRA Cup Mile, the opening leg of the Triple Crown yet was still sent off as a 28/1 outsider behind favourite Money Car. We all know what happened next as Money Car got sucked into an early speed duel with the sprinter Seonbongbulpae and tired in the home straight, allowing Cheonnyeon Daero to catch and pass him in the final few strides. Dangdae Bulpae was back in third.

Nemesis: Dangdae Bulpae and Jo Sung Gon

Park Geum Man rode him that day and would go on to partner him in all but one of his seventeen subsequent starts. Australian trainer Peter Wolsley, who acted as Park’s mentor, told the Korea Times that even though it was for a different trainer, Park’s Derby win was his proudest moment in Korean racing.

By the time the third-leg of the Crown rolled around, the Minister’s Cup in October, the tables had turned. Dangdae Bulpae was the sixth length winner and Cheonnyeon Daero’s time in his shadow had begun.

After the Derby, Cheonnyeon Daero only won four more times but he was consistently placed, most often second. He actually crossed the line first in the Owners’ Trophy last September, only to be demoted to second. In a strange twist, the horse that Cheonnyeon Daero interfered with was the Peter Wolsley trained Khaosan. Khaosan’s promotion gave Park’s mentor his first Korean Stakes win.

Cheonnyeon Daero’s final race was the Grand Prix Stakes at Seoul in December, after the decision had already been made to retire him. For the first and only time in his career, he finished outside the money. He will be retired to Stud.

Cheonnyeon Daero’s Derby:

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