Queen’s Blade getting beaten in the Minister’s Cup on Sunday may have been a surprise but the Derby and Oaks winning filly’s reverse in the final Classic of the season wasn’t the biggest shock of the weekend at Seoul.
Yeongsan II had won all six of his races in Korea in dismissively easy fashion, culiminating in the Ilgan Sports Cup in September. However, on Saturday afternoon, he stepped up in class and distance and finally met his match in the shape of last year’s Ilgan winner, Gwanggyo Bisang.
Sent off as the odds on favourite, Yeongsan II set the pace under Moon Se Young and as they entered the home straight looked ready to cruise to another routine victory. That was to reckon without Gwanggyo Bisang though as while Yeongsan II was by no means slow in the final furlong, his fellow 4-year-old – depite carrying 60Kg – was able to go up a gear to reel him in and pass him to win by just under a length on the line.
The result, along with Queen’s Blade’s setback, Indie Band on the long-term injured list, and Wonder Bolt on the doubtful list, sets next month’s President’s Cup – Korea’s richest race – wide open with Busan’s Hangangui Gijeok, currently on a winning streak of seven, now the likely favourite. Gwanggyo Bisang, now with eleven wins from sixteen starts, may have to now be considered too.
Class 1 Handicap – Seoul Racecourse – 2000M – October 4, 2014
1. Gwanggyo Bisang (KOR) [Menifee – Touch Upon (Touch Gold)] – Park Tae Jong – 3.8, 1.3
2.Yeongsan II (KOR) [Menifee – Foxxy Cleo (Peintre Celbre)] – Moon Se Young – 1.2
3. Gumanseok (KOR) [Vicar – Perfect Storm (Didyme) – Ham Wan Sik 1.5
Distances: 0.75 lengths / 3 lengths – 10 ran
Another race that is on the near horizon is the Japan/Korea Interaction Cup at Tokyo Ohi on November 11. With big prizes such as the President’s Cup on offer at home in November and only Seoul horses able to make the trip, there is a diminishing pool of talent available to make the trip to defend the title so memorably won by Watts Village last year.
And it was Watts Village (Forestry) who won a preparation race for the Interaction Cup on Sunday afternoon, getting the disappointment of his performance in the Asia Challeng Cup at the end of August out of his system.
Watts Village is unlikely to go to Tokyo but back at his favourite distance of 1200M and under Moon Se Young for the very first time, the 4-year-old led from gate-to-wire to win by 7-lengths in what was one of the fastest ever recorded times over the distance at Seoul. Sing Sing Cat was 2nd with Here He Comes, who is in-line to go to Japan, a creditable 3rd.
This coming weekend it is the 2-year-olds who take centre stage with Juvenile Championship races at both Seoul and Busan. The capital hosts the Gwacheon Mayor’s Cup on Saturday with the Gyeongnam Sinmun Cup at Busan on Sunday. The best performers will re-convene in Seoul at the end of November to decided the nation’s overall champion juvenile in the Korean Breeders’ Cup.