Month: August 2015

Choegang Schiller Beats El Padrino To Win The Asia Challenge Cup

Choegang Schiller strode into the history books at Seoul Racecourse this afternoon, becoming the first ever home-trained winner of the Asia Challenge Cup.

Choegang Schiller and Lee Chan Ho win the Asia Challenge Cup (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Choegang Schiller and Lee Chan Ho win the Asia Challenge Cup (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Defending champion El Padrino of Singapore put up a valiant effort but he was left with just too much to do as under jockey Lee Chan Ho, Choegang Schiller stole a march on the field entering the home straight and ran on to record a track record time for the distance, beating the Champion by two lengths.

El Padrino chased the winner home in second while Cheon Gu, who had gone all out in the early stages in the KRA Trophy at Kranji last month, this time stayed for 3rd.

SBS Asia Challenge Cup – Seoul Racecourse – 1200M – August 30, 2015

1. Choegang Schiller (USA) [Artie Schiller – Changeable (Miswaki)] – Lee Chan Ho – 3.5, 1.4
2. El Padrino (NZ) [Mr. Nancho – Crownie (Luskin Star)] – Oscar Chavez – 1.2
3. Cheon Gu (USA) [Old Fashioned – So Much Fun (Speightstown)] – Yoo Seung Wan – 3.8
Distances: 2 lengths / 1.75 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Gabo Myeongun (USA) 5. Kogyo Douglas (JPN) 6. Super Gangja (USA) 7. Wonder Bolt (USA) 8. Valevole (BRZ) 9. Taisei Legend (JPN) 10. Happy Money (AUS) 11. Geumbit Hwanhui

Plenty more pictures to follow over the coming days.

Kim Dong Soo Claims Victory In Asian Young Guns Challenge

Kim Dong Soo took the top prize in the 7th Asian Young Guns Jockey Challenge, riding winners in two of the four rounds at Seoul Racecourse on Saturday afternoon.

Kim Dong Soo atthe Asian Young Guns Ceremony (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Kim Dong Soo atthe Asian Young Guns Ceremony (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Always expected to win the first leg having drawn the plum ride on Nabom, Korean apprentice Kim added another win in round 3 on Ganginhae to take an unassailable lead going into the Singapore Turf Club Trophy. In that race, he would extend his lead by partnering Gasok Bisang to 2nd place behind Hong Kong’s Jack Wong on Yeondu.

Kim Dong Soo wins round 1 on Nabom (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Kim Dong Soo wins round 1 on Nabom (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Round 1: Class 4 / 1000M / Handicap
1. Nabom – Kim Dong Soo (Korea)
2. Muhandoma – Jack Wong (Hong Kong)
3. Strong Winner – Jye McNeil (Australia)
Distances: 6 lengths / 1.34 lengths – 10 ran

Macau’s Choi Yee Mo would take the second leg of the challenge, swooping home wide and late on Hwanggeum Sesang. It would, however, be Choi’s last mount of the day as he was stood down with exhaustion after the race.

Choi Yee Mo returns to scale having won Round 2 on Hwanggeum Sesang (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Choi Yee Mo returns to scale having won Round 2 on Hwanggeum Sesang (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Round 2: Class 4 / 1400M / Handicap
1. Hwanggeum Sesang – Choi Yee MO (Macau)
2. Giant Hold – Cho Han Byeol
3. Power Symphony – See Zhi Yong (Singapore)
Distances: 4 lengths/ 0.75 lengths – 14 ran

With Choi unfortunately retired, the challenge was Kim’s to lose and he made sure of victory with a round to spare, guiding 7/1 chance Ganginhae to a four-length triumph.

Kim Dong Soo returns victorious on Ganginhae (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Kim Dong Soo returns victorious on Ganginhae (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Round 3: Class 5 / 1200M / Handicap
1. Ganginhae – Kim Dong Soo (Korea)
2. Eutteum Wangja – Tsubasa Sasagawa (Japan)
3. Seoho Arari – Song Jae Chul
Distances: 4 lengths / Neck – 11 ran

The challenge may have bee over as a contest but there was still the most valuable race of the four to come in the shape of the Singapore Turf Club Trophy. And remarkably, the in-form Kim Dong Soo came close in that too, partnering 70/1 shot Gasok Bisang to an improbable 2nd place.

He could, however, only get within two lengths of the winner, Yeondu, who was ridden by Hong Kong’s Jack Wong.

Hong Kong's Jack Wong wins the Singapore Turf Club Trophy on Yeondu (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Hong Kong’s Jack Wong wins the Singapore Turf Club Trophy on Yeondu (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Round 4: The Singapore Turf Club Trophy / 1400M / Class Open
1. Yeondu – Jack Wong (Singapore)
2. Gasok Bisang – Kim Dong Soo (Korea)
3. Nuri Narae – Jye McNeil (Australia)
Distances: 2.5 lengths/4 lengths – 13 ran

Kim Dong Soo is presented with...something (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Kim Dong Soo is presented with…something (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Kim Dong Soo was the overall winner, ahead of Hong Kong’s Jack Wong and Australia’s Jye McNeil.

Five Overseas-Trained Horses Here For Asia Challenge Cup

Defending champion El Padrino is at Seoul Racecourse in preparation for this Sunday’s Asia Challenge Cup, the highlight of the International Racing Festival weekend.

Three Singapore-trained horses arrived at Incheon Airport last Friday (Pic: KRA)

Three Singapore-trained horses arrived at Incheon Airport last Friday (Pic: KRA)

El Padrino arrived in Korea last Friday afternoon accompanied by stablemate Happy Money and a third Singapore-trained entrant, Valevole; the latter two replacing originally nominated horses who have been pointed elsewhere. The Japanese pair of Kogyo Douglas and Taisei Legend arrived at the racecourse late last Wednesday.

Oscar Chavez will ride El Padrino this year with Danny Beasley partnering Happy Money and Barend Vorster taking the mount of Valevole. Veteran NAR rider Fumio Matoba, who won this race’s predecessor, the Korea-Japan Goodwill Cup on Tosen Archer in 2013, is back and will ride Taisei Legend while Takehiro Kashigawa will be on board Kogyo Douglas.

A total of twelve remain in the Asia Challenge Cup, which this year will be run over 1200M, ahead of Thursday’s final declarations and barrier draw:

SBS Asia Challenge Cup (KOR G3) – Seoul Racecourse – 1200M – August 30, 2015

El Padrino (NZ) [Mr. Nacho – Crownie (Luskin Star)] – Singapore
Cheon Gu (USA) [Old Fashioned – So Much Fun (Speightstown)] – Seoul
Choegang Schiller (USA) [Artie Schiller – Changeable (Miswaki)] – Seoul
Gabo Myeongun (USA) [Sharp Humor – Tingwithasting (Wild Rush)] – Busan
Super Gangja (USA) [Simon Pure – Honey Fritters (Helmsman)] – Busan
Oreuse (USA) [Smoke Glacken – Heavenly Splendor (Point Given)] – Busan
Wonder Bolt (USA) [Desert Warrior – Little Champ (Great Gladiator)] – Seoul
Geumbit Hwanhui (KOR) [Peace Rules – Sincheongchun (Silent Warrior)] – Seoul
Happy Money (AUS) [Econsul – Gem Of Gems (Peintre Celebre)] – Singapore
Taisei Legend (JPN) [King Kamehameha – Sharp Kick (Mejiro McQueen)] – Japan
Kogyo Douglas (JPN) [Amore Rose – Sterling Pegasus (Mejiro Ryan)] – Japan
Valevole (BRZ) [Our Emblem – Garland Queen (Ghadeer)] – Singapore

The weekend also sees the Asian Young Guns Jockey Challenge as well as trophy exchange races with the Singapore Turf Club, Selangor Turf Club, Turkey Jockey Club and Horse Racing Ireland.

In addition to the Asia Challenge Cup, the Korean Group 2 KRA Cup Classic will also take place on Sunday.

Asian Young Guns Jockey Challenge Set For Saturday At Seoul

The 7th Asian Young Guns Jockey Challenge will be held at Seoul Racecourse this coming Saturday August 29. Two apprentice jockeys from Korea will be joined by nine others from around Asia, Oceania and South Africa for the four-race series which is being held in Korea for the first time.

Jye McNeil will be representing Australia in the Asian Young Guns (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Jye McNeil will be representing Australia in the Asian Young Guns (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Asian Young Guns was first held in 2009 at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne and has since been run in Singapore, Macau, New Zealand and South Africa. Jockeys will be arriving in Korea on Tuesday and Wednesday prior to Thursday’s barrier draw where their mounts will be drawn.

The Challenge is the opening event of the International Racing Festival at Seoul Racecourse this coming weekend which also includes trophy exchange races with a number of other racing authorities and culminates in the Asia Challenge Cup on Sunday afternoon.

Two horses from Japan arrived in Korea last Wednesday and three from Singapore, including defending champion El Padrino, arrived last Friday.

The Asia Challenge Cup will be screened live by the SBS Sports Channel while another big Stakes race, the KRA Cup Classic, will also be run on Sunday to conclude an important weekend for Korean racing.

Here are this year’s Asian Young Guns Challengers with their Career Rides (1st/2nd/3rd):

Jye McNeil (Australia) 2384(201/219/245)
Jack Wong (Hong Kong) 161(9/13/9)
Fuma Matsuwaka (Japan – JRA) 1021(82/64/66)
Tsubasa Sasagawa (Japan – NAR) 2202(165/159/164)
Dong Soo Kim (Korea – Seoul) 417(30/30/36)
Hee Won Jo (Korea – Busan) 255(12/21/14)
Yee Mo Choi (Macau) 1014(77/115/86)
Wong Kam Chong (Malaysia) 271(44/37/29)
Joshua Oliver (New Zealand) 661(37/32/57)
Zhi Yong See (Singapore) 863(56/42/54)
Craig Zackey (South Africa) 1599(126/116/125)

Click here to download full profiles and Challenge information

Points will be allocated to jockeys whose horses finish in the first 8 positions, ranging from 25 points for a win to 1 point for 8th as follows – 1st: 25; 2nd: 15; 3rd 10; 4th: 7;  5th: 5; 6th: 3; 7th: 2; 8th: 1 (if a horse is scratched, the affected rider will be awarded 6 points).

The four races will be over various classes and distances and will culminate with the KRW 150 Million Singapore Turf Club Trophy.


Gumpo Sky & Sotong Sidae Take Busan & Seoul Honours

There were two hot favourites for the two big races in Korea on Sunday afternoon and they met with contrasting fortunes with just the one coming home victorious.

That was Gumpo Sky. 2nd in the Minister’s Cup, the final leg of the Korean Triple crown last year and also 2nd in the Gyeongnam Do-Min Ilbo, this time the 4-year-old made no mistake in a Stakes race as he led home a small field of five rivals by half a length in the Busan Ilbo Cup.

Busan Ilbo Cup – Busan Racecourse – 2000M – August 16, 2015

1. Gumpo Sky (KOR) [Vicar – Perfect Storm (Didyme)] – Kim Dong Young – 1.7, 1.2
2. Ildeung Hanghaesa (KOR) [Ecton Park – Saeroun Bulpae (Northern Afleet)] – 1.4
3. Goliath Marine (KOR) [Volponi – Queenie Bee (Geri)] – Jo Sung Gon
Distances: 0.5 lengths / 3 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Baekgyeong (KOR) 5. Jungang Haeju (KOR) 6. No Peers (KOR)

At Seoul it was a different story for Brig in the Sports Chosun Cup. The even-money favourite faltered when exiting the gate and although he recovered to look right in contention turning for him, he had nothing left in the home straight and faded to last.

That left 20/1 shot Sotong Sidae to get the best of a tight finish, flying home from last to first in the home straight under Park Byeong Yun to win by half a length from the mare Cheonnyeon Dongan. It was the 4-year-old gelding’s 7th career win from 27 starts but his 6th from his past 10.

Sports Chosun Cup – Seoul Racecourse – 2000M – August 16, 2015

1. Sotong Sidae (KOR) [Gold Money – Myeonggauihuye (Black Minnaloushe)] – Park Byeong Yun – 20.8, 2.6
2. Cheonnyeon Dongan (KOR) [Ecton Park – Honeycakes (Hennessy)] – Lee Chan Ho – 1.7
3. Haemaru (KOR) [Vicar – Forest Flower (Timber Country)] – Choi Bum Hyun – 2.2
Distances: 0.5 lengths/0.5 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Gumanseok (KOR) 5. Pinot Noir (KOR) 6. Heukgisa (KOR) 7. Magic Dancer (KOR) 8. Brig (KOR)

Sunday Preview: Sports Chosun & Busan Ilbo Cups

There’s a big Stakes Race Sunday in prospect in Korea. However, both the Sports Chosun Cup at Seoul and Busan Ilbo Cup at Busan, which will both be run over 2000M, are set to feature strong favourites.

Gumpo Sky (black cap) was just beaten in last year's Minister's Cup. Can he get his first Stakes win in the Busan Ilbo Cup? (Pic: choi9036903)

Gumpo Sky (black cap) was just beaten in last year’s Minister’s Cup. Can he get his first Stakes win in the Busan Ilbo Cup? (Pic: choi9036903)

Not that there’s anything especially wrong with that although field size for both is disappointing to put it mildly. At Busan, just six will line up for the Busan Ilbo Cup and the aforementioned favourite will be Gumpo Sky. The four-year-old hasn’t had much luck in Stakes company so far, coming very close on two occasions last year, including the final leg of the Triple Crown. Most recently he ran 6th in the Busan Mayor’s Cup over a mile.

He should have too much for his five rivals tomorrow though. If he is to be beaten, Ildeung Hanghaesa or Goliath Marine look like the ones who can do it. Yeonseung Daero and Gyeongbudaero are two previous winners of the race meaning that the winner has big hooves to fill.

A couple of hours earlier at Seoul, eight will have gone to post for the Sports Chosun Cup. Favourite to come back in front will be Brig, a five-year-old who was 4th in the Korean Derby in 2013, and has gone on to become one of the most consistent performers in the capital and who was an 11-length class 1 winner over 1800M on his most recent start.

Brig has never won over 2000M before – this is only his 2nd start at the distance – and if that continues, then Haemaru or Busan exile Magic Dancer are perhaps best placed to take advantage.

Click here for full English language race cards at the KRA’s website

Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Sunday August 16
Seoul Racecourse: 10 races from 13:00 to 17:45
Busan Racecourse: 6 races from 16:20 to 20:00

Power City, Triple Nine Claim Owners’ Cup Trials

Power City beat out New White Socks in a final furlong duel in the Ilgan Sports Cup at Seoul while things were a little more straightforward for Triple Nine in the Gyeongnam Domin Ilbo Cup at Busan, both races intended as trials for next month’s Busan Owners’ Cup.

In the capital, New White Socks, who had broken the 1700M track record on each of his last two starts, was sent off as the favourite. The grey led from the gate but was reeled in and eventually passed in touching distance of the line by Power City, who powered home down the outside under veteran jockey Park Tae Jong.

For Power City (Archer City Slew), it was an 8th win from 14 career starts. He and New White Socks (Secret Weapon) finished a full ten lengths clear of 3rd placed Bujeon Jajeon (J.S. Hold). That order allowed the rare case of two of the three place-getters in a big race as being by sires who raced in Korea.

Ilgan Sports Cup – Seoul Racecourse – 1800M – August 9, 2015

1. Power City (KOR) [Archer City Slew – Power Bull (Holy Bull)] – Park Tae Jong – 4.1, 1.7
2. New White Socks (KOR) [Secret Weapon – Wonder Queen (Canadian Silver)] – Moon Se Young – 1.3
3. Bujeon Jajeon (KOR) [J.S. Hold – Michel With One L (Pacific Waves)] – Shin Hyung Chul
Distances: Neck/10 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Last Mudae (KOR) 5. Meni Money (KOR) 6. Citadel (KOR) 7. Mahanaim (KOR)

At Busan, Triple Nine, 2nd in both the Korean Derby and the Minister’s Cup, was sent off as the overwhelming favourite for the Gyeongnam DoMinIlbo Cup. And he didn’t disappoint this time, cruising to a four-length win.

High Five was 2nd with Oaks winner Jangpung Parang coming home in 3rd having led for much of the race.

Gyeongnam Domin Ilbo Cup – Busan Racecourse – 1600M – August 9, 2015

1. Triple Nine (KOR) [Ecton Park – A Little Poke (Pleasant Tap)] – Lim Sung Sil – 1.3, 1.0
2. High Five (KOR) [Creek Cat – Nam’s Gulch (Gulch)] – Jo Sung Gon – 1.8
3. Jangpung Parang (KOR) [Creek Cat – Ascend The Throne (Silver Charm)] – Kim Yong Geun – 1.4
Distances: 4 lengths/1.5 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Winner’s Marine (KOR) 5. Mac And Cheese (KOR) 6. Royal Impact (KOR) 7. Major Star (KOR) 8. Sinsegye (KOR)

In other races across the weekend, New York Blue (Candy Ride) was an impressive winner of the class 1 feature at Busan on Friday while Saturday’s main event at Seoul saw a 5th career win for US import Clean Up Joy (Purge).

Irish trainer Thomas Gillespie continued his very solid start in Korea with one of his four runners at Busan on Friday coming home a winner, Joiner Captain (Ecton Park) taking race 7 Under Ikuyasu Kurakane. At Seoul, Serbian jockey Djordje Perovic reached 20 Korean winners with a double on Saturday.

Cheongnyong Bisang The Ranch Horse

Over the past seven years, one of the best things about writing this blog has been getting to hear lots of horse stories. From the well known Sgt. Reckless to the unknown Mystery Clearance, hearing about the weird and wonderful way in which the racing world is interconnected is always fascinating. Cheongnyong Bisang’s story is right up there with the best.

Cheongnyong Bisang wininng the KRA Cup Mile in 2014 under Seo Seung Un (Pic: KRA)

Cheongnyong Bisang wininng the KRA Cup Mile in 2014 under Seo Seung Un (Pic: KRA)

A couple of weeks ago I received an email about him and was quite taken aback to learn that the 2013 Korean Breeders’ Cup and 2014 KRA Cup Mile winner was now in South Dakota being trained to be a ranch horse. The question I had was “how on Earth did that happen?”

Well that has now been explained in detail by Gate To Great, the thoroughbed re-training program that Cheongnyong Bisang has landed on his feet in. The Paulick Report also covered the story and as Jen Roytz writes, “We couldn’t have told his story better ourselves” so do click through to the blog post by Gate to Great. It is wonderfully written and well worth a read.

Singapore’s El Padrino On For Korea Return In Asia Challenge Cup

El Padrino is set to return to Korea to defend the Asia Challenge Cup at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday August 30.

El Padrino wins the 2014 Asia Challenge Cup  (Pic: Elan959)

El Padrino wins the 2014 Asia Challenge Cup (Pic: Elan959)

The 7-year-old will face a stern test in this year’s event which will be run over the shorter distance of 1200M. Scheduled to accompany him from Singapore is Daniel, who comes into the race off the back of consecutive victories, along with Huka Falls, another very solid runner.

Two are expected from Japan. Taisei Legend and Kogyo Douglas, the latter of which has run in both editions of the Interaction Cup against Korean opposition at Ohi in 2013 and 2014.

As for the home team, Wonder Bolt and New York Blue, 2nd and 3rd respectively in last year’s race, are set to go again as is Watts Village, winner of the Interaction Cup at Ohi in 2013. Oreuse, on his day Korea’s best sprinter, is also among the nomnations while Cheon Gu, who has just returned from Singapore is likely to be there too.

El Padrino (NZ) [Mr. Nancho – Crownie (Luskin Star)] 7 G (36/10/5/4)
Daniel (NZ) [Guillotine – Tina (Danasinga)] 5 G (18/7/5/1)
Huka Falls (NZ) [Align – Diamond Lady (Senor Pete)] 6 G (37/14/2/6)

Taisei Legend (JPN) [King Kamehameha – Sharp Kick (Mejiro McQueen)] 8 H (39/9/5/2)
Kogyo Douglas (JPN) [Sterling Rose – Amore Pegasus (Mejiro Ryan)] 8 H (37/13/6/2)

Yeongung Champ (USA) [More Than Ready – Word Of Mouth (Saint Ballado)] 3 C (7/4/1/0)
New York Blue (USA) [Candy Ride – Aim For The Moon (Deputy Minister)] 4 F (19/6/8/1)
Super Gangja (USA) [Sharp Humor – Honey Fritters (Helmsman)] 5 H (24/4/8/1)
Oreuse (USA) [Smoke Glacken – Heavenly Splendor (Point Given)] 6 H (28/12/4/3)
Gabo Myeongun (USA) [Sharp Humor – Tingwithasting (Wild Rush)] 3 C (8/4/2/1)
Watts Village (USA)[Forestry – Edey’s Village (Silver Deputy)] 5 H (19/8/5/2)
Wonder Bolt (USA) [Desert Warrior – Little Champ (Great Gladiator)] 5 G (23/6/9/1)
Choegang Schiller (USA)[Artie Schiller – Changeable (Miswaki)] 4 G (12/6/2/1)
Geumbit Hwanhui (KOR) [Peace Rules – Sincheonchun (Silent Warrior)] 4 F (16/5/3/2
Bichui Jeongsang (USA) [Wildcat Heir – Persimmon Honey (Colonial Affair)] 4 F (14/5/4/2)
Cheon Gu (USA) [Old Fashioned – So Much Fun (Speightstown)] 3 C (6/4/1/1)

The Asia Challenge Cup is the showpiece even of this year’s international weekend at Seoul Racecourse on Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 August, which will also involve Trophy Exchange races with the Singapore Turf Club, Selangor Turf Club, Turkey Jockey Club and Horse Racing Ireland as well as the Asia Young Guns Jockey Challenge and the KRA Cup Classic.

Thomas Gillespie Saddles First Runner & Winner, Bart Rice Trains A Treble, Tanaka Rides a Four-Timer, Ikuyasu Wins Too

It was a good day for much of the overseas contingent at Busan. So good, it’s hard to know where to start.

Let’s start with the newcomer. Thomas Gillespie joined the training ranks at the south-coast track in June and has put together a string numbering 23 in total. Today he sent out his first runner. Indeed, Mangang (Creek Cat), who was returning from 10 months away from the track, was to be his only runner all weekend. Punters spotted it a mile off and duly sent Mangang off as the favourite.

Under Masa Tanaka, Mangang duly obliged but it was very tight with the gelding just getting up to overcome Pico Taeyang and hold off the fast finishing Big Echo by a neck on the line. May it be the first of many for Gillespie but it wouldn’t be the only close finish of the day.

Gillespie joins two other foreign trainers at Busan. Peter Wolsley evidently took the day off but South African Bart Rice was in fine form. Rice only sent out four horses all day but three of them returned winners. 10/1 shot Gold Bank (Bernstein) crept down the rail under Masa Tanaka to win race 11 before You Hyun Myung guided favourite Captainiji (Mineshaft) to the honours in race 13.

It was quite a bizarre ending to the race with jockey You taking Captainiji down the rail – which had been the place to be all day – while his closest rival Last Ticket shifted well wide only to fly home and be beaten a neck on the line. It was Captainiji’s second consecutive win over 1800M. Rice wasn’t done. Race 14 saw his Alpha Plus (Biwa Shinseiki) get sent off at 8/1 but in the hands of Masa Tanaka, he defied those odds to land a comfortable 5-length triumph.

Bart Rice has now seen six of his last ten runners return home as winners. Since he started in Korea, his win strike rate is 18%; 27% of his runners have finished in the top two while he has managed to get 33% to show. He is currently 14th of 33 trainers in the 2015 Championship in terms of winners but has sent out significantly fewer runners than any other trainer on the list. Except Thomas Gillespie.

It is this care for his runners – that he sends them out only when they are right – that has made Rice the trainer of choice for some of the new foreign owners at Busan. Dr. Joe Dallao, the first foreign owner to be licensed, has two with him and he in turn introduced Barry Irwin, head of Team Valor (owner of 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom), who has sent his gelding Swoop to Bart’s barn.

It’s time to talk about Masa Tanaka. In between getting Mangang home for Thomas Gillespie and his double for Bart Rice, the Japanese rider also had time to get the best of a desperately close finish to race 4 on Grageo (Biwa Shinseiki). He coaxed the 8/1 chance into beating the favourite Seorabeol Gongju by a nose on the line and it was one of those instances where the jockey made the difference.

Masa Tanaka (Pic: Busan Ilbo)

Masa Tanaka (Pic: Busan Ilbo)

It was Grageo’s second win. His first was on his racecourse debut back last Boxing Day when he was ridden by Tanaka’s Japanese compatriot Joe Fujii. Fujii won just about every big race during his time in Korea while Tanaka is yet to win a Stakes but that doesn’t tell the whole story. He’s now racking up the numbers and with his four victories today moves onto 84 Korean winners and his stated aim of reaching 100 will surely be a formality.

Tanaka is a very good judge of pace who gets his mounts into exactly the right positions and given the right ride in a big race, there is no doubt that he will get the job done. Held in high esteem among punters and connections alike, it’s hoped he will be here for a long time to come and will soon reset his ambition to 200 winners.

On the subject of getting the job done, we turn to Ikuyasu Kurakane. The Seoul Racecourse “MVP” of 2014, despite not winning the Jockey Championship (for a foreigner at Seoul that is an immense achievement), returned to Korea last week after five months riding at his home track of Kochi in Japan. It didn’t take him long to get back in the winner’s circle as he partnered Rising Bravo (Discreet Cat) to victory in race 6. The “Punter’s Friend” is back.

Peter Hill’s Pegasus Stables on Jeju Island has been a big supporter of Bart Rice and has also sent some horses to Thomas Gillespie (and previously to Peter Wolsley too) and to round out a good day for the foreign influence, the Pegasus owned Binggoragio (Blazonry) was the 20/1 winner of the final event on a long day, race 15.

All in all it was a cracking day’s sport at Busan. The foreign influence; the South African track riders, the trainers and the jockeys have played an important role in making Busan far superior to Seoul when the two tracks race their horses against each other. 32,000 punters were at Seoul today to bet solely on Busan. In Gillespie, Rice, Tanaka and Kurakane, they were betting on quality.