Month: November 2013

Korean Horses Arrive Safely In Japan

The three horses who will represent Korea in the second leg of the Korea vs Japan Challenge, have been in trackwork since touching down on Japanese soil last week.

The horses arrived by Korean Air last Thursday

The horses arrived by Korean Air last Thursday

After a stable-to-stable trip of 16 hours, Fly Top Queen, Watts Village and Full Moon Party arrived at the NAR Education Centre at Nasu, about 200km north of Tokyo where there is a quarantine facility.

Into the light: Trackwork at Nasu (Pic: KRA)

Into the light: Trackwork at Nasu (Pic: KRA)

All three horses travelled well and will soon relocate to Ohi Racecourse in Tokyo, where the race will take place next Tuesday evening (November 26). We’ll have more of the build up over the coming days. See Facebook for more pictures.

Secret Whisper Wins Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup For Aussie Trainer Peter Wolsley

Secret Whisper ran the final furlong of her life to win the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup, the final leg of the 2013 Queens’ Tour, at Busan Race Park this afternoon.

Secret Whisper and Jo Sung Gon just do enough

Secret Whisper and Jo Sung Gon just do enough

With Korean Derby and Oaks winner Speedy First out of sorts to the extent that she was tailed off in the home straight, it was left to Joy Lucky to throw down the gauntlet to Secret Whisper.

For a time, it looked like she might just run off with the prize. Seoul’s Champion filly took the lead early and battled gamely to keep it the whole way around.

But Secret Whisper was relentless.

Under Busan’s champion jockey Jo Sung Gon, she got into her rhythm at the top of the home straight and pressed and pressed until finally, just yards from the line, she collared Joy Lucky and crossed the line in front by the narrowest of margins.

It’s a 3rd Stakes win – and only a 2nd Group win – for Australian trainer Peter Wolsley. Indeed, it’s the first time that the Melbourne native has saddled a horse who has crossed the line first in a Group race – his previous winner, Khaosan in the 2011 Owners’ Cup, being promoted after an inquiry.

Governor's Cup winner Secret Whisper (KRA)

Governor’s Cup winner Secret Whisper (KRA)

Less well noticed today but still significant was that the win took Wolsley up to 2nd in the 2013 trainers’ Championship with 49 in total. He looks to have every chance to maintain that position to win the race to be 2nd to runaway leader Kim Young Kwan.

Kim has the resources, firepower and influence that have never been available to any trainer in Korea before. He will continue to win the title for as many years as he chooses.

But while Kim is very much the stereotypical modern trainer – primarily a businessman who leaves the day-to-day running of the stables to his staff – Wolsley is a horseman. In the build-up to this race, he rode Secret Whisper himself in trackwork and he still breaks in the 2-year olds that get sent to him. Today the horseman won.

After the race, the camera shy (on this blog we’re still using a picture of him from 5 years ago) and ever-modest Wolsley, instead of talking about his own achievement, preferred to focus on what a good filly the 2nd placed Joy Lucky is.

It’s that self-deprecating character that saw him through his tough first 2 years in Korea. Now finally, he is reaping a well deserved harvest.

As for the Queens’ Tour, the first leg was all the way back in March so it’s hard to say just how much we should trust it in choosing our champion filly & mare of the year. Ttukseom Cup winner Useung Touch was nowhere while KKN Cup winner Yodeongseong didn’t even bother to line-up.

Secret Whisper, bred and owned by Peter Hill’s Pegasus Operation on Jeju Island, has been in Wolsley’s barn her whole career. She could now be in line for a tilt at next month’s Grand Prix Stakes in Seoul, after which there is a potential race abroad before broodmare duties beckon.

Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup (KOR G3) – Busan Race Park – 2000M – November 17, 2013

1. Secret Whisper (KOR) [Sea Of Secrets – Generals Passion (General Meeting)] – Jo Sung Gon – 2.8, 1.4
2. Joy Lucky (KOR) [Vicar – Proper Gun (Prosper Fager)] – Seo Seung Un – 1.7
3. Sangnyu (USA) [Broken Vow – Midtown Miss (Yes It’s True)] – Jang Chu Youl – 2.5

Distances: Head/2.5 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Grand Teukgeup (KOR) 5. Dehere Queen (USA) 6. Choichoro (KOR) 7. Seungniuihamseong (KOR) 8. Imperial Star (KOR) 9. Fine Gongju (KOR) 10. Useung Touch (KOR) 11. Kkon Maru (USA) 12. Silver Classic (USA) DQ. Miracle Wonder (KOR) DQ. Dongseo Daeruk (USA) DQ. Imperial Girl (USA) DQ. Speedy First (KOR).

Winning Jockey: Jo Sung Gon
Winning Owner: Pegasus Stables
Winning Trainer: Peter Wolsley

Smarty Moonhak Back Where He Belongs At Last

The fears of those of us who suspected that Smarty Moonhak would never again be competitive in the top-tier of Korean racing were allayed in fine fashion as the 4-year-old colt produced a burst of late speed to win the feature race at Seoul Race Park this afternoon.

Moon Se Young is delighted with Smarty Moonhak in this screengrab from Seoul Racecourse today

Moon Se Young is delighted with Smarty Moonhak in this screengrab from Seoul Racecourse today

Making his second start since being away from the track for over a year with tendonitis, Smarty Moonhak (Smarty Jones) was made a warm favourite for the 6-furlong event that saw up-and-comer Samjeong Bulpae make his first class 1 appearance.

The latter made the early running but the final furlong was all about Smarty Moonhak as, under Moon Se Young, the former phenom, who finished 3rd in the Grand Prix Stakes aged just 2, swept by to win by half a length from Dongbanjaui Gijeok.

It’s still early days in his return. This was by no means an especially strong class 1 event and it remains to be seen how he will take to the longer distances he will need to cover if he is to start competing for big Stakes prizes again. For now though, Smarty Moonhak is back.

Class 1 (Open) – Seoul Race Park – 1200M – November 17, 2013

1. Smarty Moonhak (USA) [Smarty Jones – Madeira M’Dear (Black Tie Affair)] – Moon Se Young – 2.9, 1.3
2. Dongbanjaui Gijeok (USA) [Half Ours – Feisty Cherokee (Cherokee Run)] – Choi Bum Hyun – 1.4
3. Dangdae Jeonseung (CAN) [Put It Back – Diamond Heirloom (Pembroke)] – Lee Sang Hyeok – 2.3

Distances: 0.5 lengths/0.5 lengths – 11 ran

Weekend Preview: Queens’ Tour Finale Features / Smarty Moonhak Looks For Form At Seoul

While the undoubted highlight of the weekend is the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup – click here for full preview – there’s plenty of other action going on across the weekend.

Going again: Smarty Moonhak

Going again: Smarty Moonhak

At Seoul, the main interest is Smarty Moonhak (Smarty Jones) making the second appearance of his comeback from a long injury lay-off.

The 4-year old goes in Sunday’s finale.

The former phenom was 6th on his return last month and, while a win may be slightly too much to ask for, an improved showing is expected over the same 6-furlong distance.

Samjeong Bulpae (Hook And Ladder), who has won 5 of his 8 starts to date and will be makingh is class 1 debut, is the most interesting of his 10 rivals.

Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday November 15
Busan Race Park: 11 races from 11:50 to 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 13:10 to 17:40

Saturday November 16
Seoul Race Park: 12 races from 11:00 to 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 12:20 to 17:10

Sunday November 17
Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:00 to 18:00
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:50 to 17:00 including the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup at 16:10

Speedy First, Secret Whisper Headline Queens’ Tour Finale

The Queens’ Tour 2013 will conclude at Busan Race Park this Sunday with the running of the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup, the most valuable fillies & mares race of the year.

Korean Derby and Oaks winner Speedy First will line up in the Queens' Tour finale on Sunday

Korean Derby and Oaks winner Speedy First will line up in the Queens’ Tour finale on Sunday

Korean Derby and Oaks winner Speedy First heads the line up but she’ll face a tough challenge from Secret Whisper, a mare two years her senior and in the best form of her impressive career. Down from Seoul comes the capital’s champion filly Joy Lucky, with 6 wins from 8 starts to date.

Also among the full field of 16 is Useung Touch, Korean Oaks winner in 2011 and winner of the first leg of the series, the Ttukeseom Cup, a full 8 months ago.

Despite the race being open to all fillies & mares aged three to five, eleven of the entrants are Korean bred, with only five imports taking their chance. The most notable absentee is Fly Top Queen, who is in quarantine in Japan in preparation for the 2nd leg of the Korea vs Japan Challenge in Tokyo on November 26.

Here’s a full run down of the field with Name [Pedigree] Age (Starts/1/2/3) – Jockey

Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup (KOR G3) – Busan Race Park – 2000M – November 17, 2013

1. Useung Touch (KOR) [Menifee – Jenny Tudor (Gulch)] 5 (25/8/7/2) – Lim Sung Sil
The Korean Oaks winner in 2011 won the 1st leg of the Queens’ Tour all the way back in March. She was 2nd in the Grand Prix Stakes at the end of last year. She’s only won once from 4 starts since March but all have been in strong company. Can never be discounted.

2. Joy Lucky (KOR) [Vicar – Proper Gun (Prosper Fager)] 3 (8/6/0/0) – Seo Seung Un
Seoul’s best chance. Interfered with in the Donga Ilbo Cup, she still rallied for 4th and then easily won the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup over this distance last month to become Seoul’s champion filly or mare. Kept off the Triple Crown trail, this is the first time she’ll face Speedy First. A chance.

3. Kkon Maru (USA) [Include – Crowned (Chief’s Crown)] 4 (23/2/0/4) – Lee Gi Hweoi
Indifferent filly in indifferent form. She won’t be competing for honours here.

4. Miracle Wonder (KOR) [Menifee – Jeongbowang (Concept Win)] 3 (10/5/3/0) – Darryll Holland
Second – a very distant second – to Speedy First in the Oaks, she bounced back to win over a mile last time. Like all Menifees, there will be a question mark over the 2000 metre distance but she is a talented filly.

5. Imperial Star (KOR) [Nihon Pillow Neil – Psychic Girl (Generous)] 5 (20/6/5/3) – Lee Gang Seo
Has only run twice this year since returning from a long injury lay-off. She hasn’t yet regained her previous form and as a result, there is very to little to recommend her here.

6. Silver Classic (USA) [Chapel Royal – Psychic Friend (Star De Naskra)] 4 (22/4/3/2) – You Hyun Myung
Fourth in the KNN Cup and winner of the Gold Coast Trophy in the summer. Comes into the race off the back of two very disappointing runs and will be hard pressed to match her 6th place in this race last year.

7. Choichoro (KOR) [Concept Win – Eunbiryeong (Mujaazif)] 5 (22/5/2/3) – Kim Dong Chul
Was the unexpected winner of the YTN Cup at Seoul in August and likes this distance. However, she could only manage 4th in the Gyeonggi Governor’s last time and will be facing much better filles and mares here.

8. Grand Teukgeup (KOR) [Menifee – Saratoga Campaign (Mt.Livermore)] 4 (22/8/3/2) – Chae Gyu Jun
She was 2nd to Useung Touch in the Ttukseom Cup but her only win this year has been at 7 furlongs. She has finished 3rd over this distance but likely won’t have the speed to challenge the favourites in the final furlong.

9. Seungniuihamseong (KOR) [Vicar – Hug And Kiss (Commander In Chief)] 5 (27/6/2/3) – Bang Choon Sik
Seoul’s champion filly & mare of 2012, she’s not won a single race since. She has come very close though and consistently places. She only has an outside chance of doing that here but she shouldn’t disgrace herself either.

10. Dehere Queen (KOR) [Dehere – Cinnamon Girl (Meadowlake)] 5 (28/3/5/3) – Masakazu Tanaka
Very difficult to recommend a mare who hasn’t won since September 2011 in a big Stakes race so we’ll not be doing that here. Some encouraging runs and plenty of prize-money won recently but not a winner.

11. Fine Gongju (KOR) [Tiz Wonderful – Blissful Kiss (Kissin Kris)] 3 (14/5/3/1) – Choi Si Dae
Looked to be set to push on into a really good filly but has struggled in two class 1 outings recently which suggests she may find herself a touch overmatched here. Has potential but should find others better.

12. Dongseo Daeryuk (USA) [A.P.Warrior – Lady Marion (Forestry)] 3 (12/3/4/0) – Park Tae Jong
That Park Tae Jong has been persuaded to come down to Busan to ride her should be a recommendation but she is not in the same class as the likes of Speedy First, Joy Lucky or Secret Whisper. Has never run at 2000 metres but she was 2nd to Choichoro in the YTN Cup in August.

13. Secret Whisper (KOR) [Sea Of Secrets – Generals Passion (General Meeting)] 5 (26/10/5/5) – Jo Sung Gon
The Peter Wolsley trained mare followed up her 2nd in the KNN Cup with a pair of wins and an unexpected reversal in a 7 furlong tune-up last time out can be discounted. Should love the distance and has the potential to give Speedy First a very strong run for her money.

14. Imperial Girl (USA) [Imperialism – Wallena (Wallenda)] 5 (31/3/2/4) – Lee Ah Na
A Stakes winner in the past but in dreadful form this year and there’s nothing to suggest that will change here.

15. Speedy First (KOR) [Menifee – Speedy Deedy (Victory Gallop)] 3 (9/6/0/1) – Kanichiro Fujii
The Korean Derby and Korean Oaks winner. She put in an unexpectedly lacklustre performance in the Minister’s Cup at Seoul last time out and will need to be back to her best to beat Secret Whisper. It’s likely that punters will make her the favourite to do just that.

16. Sangnyu (USA) [Broken Vow – Midtown Miss (Yes It’s True)] 4 (19/5/3/2) – Jang Chu Youl
One of the few entrants to hold a class 1 win over this distance, she was also 3rd to KRA Cup Classic winner Mari Daemul last time out. This suggest she must be taken seriously as a contender for a place.

Seo Seung Un Represents Korea in Macau Jockey Challenge Friday

Last week it was Kim Hye Sun in Abu Dhabi, this week it’s the turn of Seo Seung Un to represent Korea. The young jockey is in Macau for the “Macao Gaming Show Invitational Jockey Challenge” which will be held at Taipa Racecourse this Friday evening.

Seo Seung Un poses with a doll and some Louis Vuitton in Macau yesterday (Pic: Macau Jockey Club)

Seo Seung Un poses in shiny suit with a doll and some Louis Vuitton in Macau yesterday (Pic: Macau Jockey Club)

Seo will join nine other visiting jockeys, plus two more representing Macau in the three-race challenge, competing for a HK$30,000 prize.

Only debuting in 2011, Seo is the star product of the KRA Jockey Academy and has broken the Korean record for quickest time to ride out an apprentice claim and quickest jockey to ride 100 career winners.

He currently lies in second place in the 2013 Seoul Jockey Championship.

This is Seo’s second visit to Macau as he took part in the 2012 Asia Young Guns Challenge. He also had a brief stint in the United States earlier that year, where he rode one winner.

He’s due back in Korea on Sunday to ride highly fancied Joy Lucky in the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup at Busan on Sunday and will head to Japan in the final week of November to ride Watts Village in the 2nd-leg of the Korea vs Japan challenge.

Among others competing in the challenge is Australia’s Claire Lindop while Wayne Lordan of Ireland and Muzi Yeni of South Africa, both veterans of previous challenges in Seoul, will also be there. Here’s a full list of jockeys competing and the nations they will represent:

Macau: Luis Corrales
Macau: Wah Lun Ho
Australia: Claire Lindop
Hong Kong: Keith Ming Lun Yun
Ireland: Wayne Lordan
Japan: Daisaku Matsuda
Korea: Seo Seung Un
Malaysia: Jose Bonifacio Pereira De Souza
Mauritius: Nooresh Juglall
Singapore: Jose Verenzuela
South Africa: Muzi Yeni
Turkey: Gokhan Kocakaya

Click Here for a full preview of the event from the Macau Jockey Club

Kim Hye Sun Finishes 7th in Abu Dhabi Challenge Race

Kim Hye Sun, who last week became the first Korean woman to ride 100 career winners, was in action in the United Arab Emirates last night.

Overseas racer: Kim Hye Sun

Overseas racer: Kim Hye Sun rode in Abu Dhabi this weekend

Kim made the trip to compete in the “HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship” challenge race at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club.

Riding 7-year-old Arabian gelding Al Mouttakel, Kim finished the race – which was won by Omani jockey Salima Al Taleei on the Jaci Wickam trained Kareem W’Rsan – in 7th place.

The race comments for Al Mouttakel were “Soon led, headed 400m out, weakened final 200m”. Kim, currently lies in 12th place in the Seoul Jockey Championship, despite spending a large portion of the year out injured.

More information at the Emirates Racing Authority

* In other overseas Korean news, Seoul trainer Seo Beom Seok, trained his first winner in Macau last week.