Anything Smarty Moonhak can do, Tough Win can do too. While the young upstart had romped to two easy victories already this year, the horse who beat him in the Grand Prix Stakes remained in the stables until today.
Eleven rivals showed up to face him, chief among them Jumong (Johar) but Tough Win, despite carrying the maximum 63kg, was sent off long odds-on favourite.
Just as in the Grand Prix last year and in contrast to his earlier starts, Cho Kyoung Ho kept Tough Win right at the back of the field. At one point, the pair were at least 20 lengths off the pace although with Jo In Kwen keeping Jumong well back too, there was little in front to concern the favourite.
They improved around the home turn and then, after a couple of taps entering the home straight, Tough Win sprinted away from the field. Cho eased him down throughout the final furlong and the favourite was practically down to a trot as he crossed the line five lengths ahead of Jumong.
It’s 15 wins from 19 starts for Tough Win now but other than knowing he’s in godd shape, we learned very little today. Indeed, everything he and Smarty Moonhak do in these handicaps seems little more than empty posturing leading up until the time they finally clash again.
Two years ago, eveyone was anticipating Dongbanui Gangja vs Tough Win. When it arrived, it was a disappointment as the unruly double Grand Prix winner pulled an Orfevre. The anticipation for this next one, with Mister Park in the mix too, is far greater.
The clash could come at Busan and, down on the south coast today there were co-feature races. Akane Yamamoto continued her recent run of form in big handicaps by winning the first on Money Tree (Medallist). Running third in the race was 2009 Minister’s Cup winner Namdo Jeap (Ft. Stockton). It was the former champion’s first placed finish for a year and the first on Korea for his jockey, Narazaki Kosuke.
* Next week it’s Seoul vs Busan for the first time in 2012 as some of the peninsula’s best fillies and mares come to the capital for the Ttukseom Cup.