With all the Stakes races scheduled for 2012 now behind us, there were no big prizes on offer but still plenty of interesting action across the weekend.
On Saturday, two-year old US import Watts Village (Forestry), winner of last month’s TJK Trophy went looking ofr his fifth straight victory at Seoul Race Park. Although sent off heavy favourite for the 1900 metre handicap, it wasn’t to be as he fell to defeat for the first time, Gwanggaetoham (Mizzen Mast), a year his senior taking the honours.
Having won the TJK Trophy, the same race that Smarty Moonhak won last year, there had been plenty of hype surrounding Watts Village. His third place yesterday suggests that while he is not the finished article, there is plenty of promise for next year.
At Seoul today there were upsets in both co-feature races. Haedongcheonwang (West Acre), odds-on favourite for the first of these, a class 1 handicap over 1800 metres, could only manage fifth place as 11/1 Cheonha Daeseung (Broken Vow) romped to a four-length win. In the finale, a rare class 1 sprint over 1300 metres there was an even bigger shock as 70/1 outsider Yeongung Icheon (Concept Win) just got up on the line to win by a neck.
There was a similar margin of victory at Busan as Peter Wolsley’s old battler Khaosan (Sunday Well) engaged in a final furlong tussle with last year’s Minister’s Cup winner Dongseo Jeongbeol (Vicar).
It went right to the wire but under Jo Sung Gon, Khaosan just got victory on the nod. If the winning post had been a stride sooner or a stride later, the result would have gone the other way but it didn’t and the records will show an eighth win for the seven-year old.
The win was Khaosan’s first since he won the Owners’ Cup last year on appeal and incredibly, his first by actually crossing the line in first place since April 2010. Khaosan is not a fast horse but he is tough and sound – he’s run fourteen times this year – and thrives on the Busan sand. His win today takes his career earnings up to nearly US$800,000.
In the other feature at Busan, Canadian bred 27/1 shot Ilgeumbit (Don Eduardo) was the surprisingly comfortable winner, giving young apprentice jockey Kim Hyun Joong the biggest victory of his career to date.
To conclude, a story of another apprentice. At Seoul this afternoon, Ahn Hyo Ri rode the eighth and ninth winners of her career before finding herself unceremoniously thrown off her mount inside the gate before race 8. There were a nervous few moments as she was carried away from the scene. She got up and walked into the ambulance herself but it was a reminder of both the highs that jockeys can experience along with the dangers they face.
Next weekend, Busan takes a break but there is racing as usual at Seoul and Jeju.