Viva Cat Impressive at Seoul / Eiki Bows Out with a Winner / Murphy Scores
We’re less than two months away from the KRA Cup Classic, the first leg of the Korean Triple Crown, and while the weather remains cold, things are starting to heat up in the three-year old ranks.
While Busan’s Gyeongbudaero (Menifee) remains most people’s early pick for Classic glory, each week others are staking their claim. At Busan on Friday, Good Time (Yehudi) won by a visually impressive nine lengths over a mile but today at Seoul, it was the turn of Viva Cat (Creek Cat) to show why he should be taking the trip down south in early April.
Sent off as favourite against a field containing only older horses, Viva Cat was a comfortable length-and-a-half winner in a fast time over 1700 metres. The colt has now won five of his six starts while Gyeongbudaero has been beaten on both of his attempts at further than seven furlongs, albeit in slightly better company.
With the likes of Jigeum I Sungan (Ingrandire) and Cheoneun (Forest Camp) recording important wins last week, the signs so far are good for this year’s three-year old crop being more competitive than the disappointng one last year.
Down at Busan, hot favourite Tamna Ace (Thunder Gulch) scored a routine victory in the feature handicap to take his record to en wins from fourteen starts. Joe Murphy’s top rated horse Deep Desire (Jump Start) was a disappointing last in that race but there was success earlier for the American trainer as his filly De Bora (Dehere) broke her maiden in race 1.
It was Murphy’s second win of what, given that he only had seven successes in the prvious eighteen months, is looking an ever more promising 2012. Murphy himself ascribes the new positive feeling in his barn to having had an Australian trackwork rider join him in January which has made communication in training much easier. Whatever the reason, his runners are ones to follow over the next few months.
Finally at Busan it was a day of farewells for Japanese rider Eiki Nishimura. The 36-year-old completed his second stint at the track today and bowed out with a winner, partnering 3/1 shot Camilla (Menifee) to victory in race 2. Popular with just about everybody, Eiki scored a total of 13 winners from 109 rides in his four months here.
He previously rode 38 winners during 2009, including winning that year’s KRA Cup Classic on Sangseung Ilro. He will be missed.
* Next weekend, we have Stakes action at Seoul in the shape of the Segye Ilbo Cup for foreign bred fillies and mares. As ever, we’ll have all the build up here on Thursday.