Filly Imperial Star stepped up to Class 1 for the first time at Seoul Race Park on Sunday and, after three consecutive second placed finishes, made no mistake as she swept to the win in the feature race.
While she benefitted from the late scratching of another filly, Mustang Queen, who beat her in the HRI Trophy last month, it was a performance full of promise from Imperial Star (Nihon Pillow Neil) and was her fifth career win.
Down at Busan, Peter Wolsley’s Ghost Whisper (Gotham City) was in unstoppable form as he cruised to victory in the first of co-feature races. It his third straight win and his seventh in ten starts. It was also South African jockey Gerrit Schlechter’s third victory of the weekend and his biggest since starting at Busan earlier this month.
Ghost Whisper is now established as Aussie trainer Wolsley’s stable star. In the second of the day’s co-features, the horse who formerly had that status, Gyeongkwaehanjilju (Tapit) put in a second consecutive disappointing performance since supposedly recovering from whatever ailed him in the season-ending Grand Prix Stakes last year.
While at Busan, the foreign jockeys were on top form – Yukio Abe also got three winners on Friday, at Seoul it was the turn of the women.
It had been nearly two years since Yoo Mi Ra last tasted victory. However, she brought that dismal run to an end with a smart victory in Saturday’s race 8 on Real Play (Field Asuka). In the time since her last winner, Yoo Mi Ra has been overtaken by two other young female jockeys.
Lee Ah Na was among the winners on Saturday while on Sunday it was the turn of Kim Hae Sun, who earlier in the year ceame the quickest woman to ride out her apprenticeship, to hit the board. Kim took two wins, first on Naejangsan (Menifee) and then later on Ecoroof Star (Exploit).
It takes the 23-year-old to 52 career wins and another step towards joining the top ranks of Korean jockeys – almost all of whom she is already more talented than.
Next week Stakes action returns to the peninsula in the shape of the Gukje Sinmun Cup at Busan. Meanwhile, Smarty Moonhak (Smarty Jones) is among early entries for next Sunday’s feature race at Seoul with a 50/50 chance of running.