With Seoul having taken its annual summer vacation this past weekend, all eyes were on Busan as the only venue for thoroughbred racing on the peninsula. And for Beolmaui Kkum, it was a welcome return to form after a long absence.
Touted as a potential star at the end of last season having won 7 of his 10 starts, Beolmaui Kkum (Put It Back) led the way in the Grand Prix Stakes at Seoul in December before fading in the home straight to end up near the back. This would be repeated on two starts at the beginning of this year before he was given close to six months off.
Returning to the track in Saturday’s feature race, punters clearly hadn’t forgotton about him, sending him off as 3rd favourite in the 1900M class 1 handicap.
As he tends to do, Beolmaui Kkum went straight to the front but this time had plenty left when jockey Lee Hee Cheon asked him for an effort in the home straight and he cruised away from his rivals to record a 5-length victory.
Beolmaui Kkum’s return to form was welcome in what had been looking a rather stale group of class 1 horses at both Seoul and Busan. Over the weekend, however, enough up-and-coming imports put in solid enough performances to suggest that we have plenty to look forward to over the coming months.
On Saturday, there were two such stand-out performances. First, Australian colt Gumpo Daeseung (Shaft) made it 4 wins from 5 starts in a class 2 race over 1400M. He had to work for it though. Late to the gate after being re-shoed, Gumpo Daeseung was tracked all the way to the line by 2nd-favourite Uregachi, just holding on to win by a nose.
At a lower class, there was far less stress for US gelding Spring Gnarly (Master Command), who was guided to a 3-length win by apprentice rider Chae Sang Hyun and now moves onto 3 wins from 5 starts.
Sunday’s marathon 15-race card saw another import put in an impressive performance as Mujinjang (Silver Train) strolled to his 6th win in 7 career starts, claiming the class 2 race 14 by two lengths.
On the domestic fron there were encouraging performances too. Derby also-ran Gumpo Sky (Vicar) offered further proof that his disappoiting run in the Classic at Seoul was an aberration, by strolling to a 7-length victory in Saturday’s class 2 race 6. One race earlier, Peter Wolsley’s Never Seen Before (Ecton Park), who didn’t even make it to the Derby, was similarly impressive in deconstructing a similar class 2 field by the same 7-length margin.
Both are now likely to be pointed towards the final leg of the Triple Crown, the Minister’s Cup at Seoul in October.
Next week, action returns to Seoul and it is International Exchange race weekend. Although there is no International Jockey Challenge this year (due to the Asia Challenge Cup being run later in the month which will include 6 visiting jockeys), there will still be plenty to look forward to. Full previews up soon.