Namhae Daewang ran out the 17/1 winner of the first Graded race of the year in Korea, the Owners’s Association Trophy at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon.
Truth be told, while this may have been a Group 3, it was a weak race, with class 1 at Seoul really struggling from a lack of talent at the moment, especially in the domestic bred ranks. Not that the huge crowd in attendance in the early Spring sunshine seemed in the slightest bit bothered about that.
And they were rewarded with a good race. Betting favorite Haemaru failed to make any real impresson on the race as Ganghae set the early pace in the six furlong sprint with Best High and old campaigner Gumanseok in close attendence. Namhae Daewang, on the other hand, had settled at the back of the field and had plenty to do as they entered the home straight.
Under jockey Lee Joon Chel, Namhae Daewang did it in style, flying home down the outside to take the line just over half a length clear of Ganghae with Gumanseok edged out into 3rd.
Five-year-old Namhae Daewang now has 7 wins from 26 career starts. For jockey Lee, it was his biggest career win to date with victory in the listed Segye Ilbo Cup his only previous visit to the Stakes winner’s circle.
Seoul Racehorse Owners’ Association Trophy (KOR GIII) – Seoul Racecourse – 1200M – March 15, 2015
1. Namhae Daewang (KOR) [Commendable – Caramel Candy (Awesome Again)] – Lee Joon Chel – 17.7, 3.3
2. Ganghae (KOR) [Didyme – Ocelot (Catrail)] – Seo Seung Un – 1.8
3. Gumanseok (KOR) [Vicar – Perfect Storm (Didyme)] – Lee Sang Hyeok – 2.8
Distances: 0.75 lengths / Head – 14 ran
Saturday at Seoul had seen a couple of notable events. Jockey Moon Se Young notched his 1,100th career winner and would end the weekend on 1,103, while the in-form Kim Hye Sun rode three more winners over the weekend. However it was the mount of one of the up and coming jockeys that caught the eye.
Under Seo Seung Un, Daegunhwang (Menifee-Lusi Pond) cruised to his 4th consecutive victory in dismissively easy fashion. This time it was over 1700M abnd he looks one to watch pver the next few months.
Naturally, Busan has its own up and comers too and US import Champ Line (Curlin) got his 5th win in 6 starts on Friday afternoon while it was the turn of domestic bred Summit Myeongun (Menifee) to impress on Sunday afternoon.
Summit Myeongun was ridden by Kim Yong Geun, who rode a treble on both Friday and Sunday. In Sunday’s feature race he gave Spring Gnarly (Master Command) a powerful ride to close late and win by just over a length. Spring Gnarly has won 8 of 11 starts.
In contrast to Seoul, class 1 at Busan is now very tough. However, the rules which up until now has prevented horses switching between the two racecourses are being relaxed and it would be no surprise to see some heading up the Gyeongbu Expressway permanently in the near future.