Day: October 17, 2015

The President’s Cup 2015: Full Runner By Runner Preview

The President’s Cup is one of the highlights of the Korean racing season. Along with the Derby and the Grand Prix Stakes it boasts the higest purse of any race on the peninsula and is the race where the best of this year’s domestic three-year-olds, face older opposition. The 2015 edition takes place at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon.

The President's Cup is one of the most valuable races in the Korean racing year

The President’s Cup is one of the most valuable races in the Korean racing year

For the past two years, the winner of the President’s Cup has gone on to win the Grand Prix. In 2013 it was Indie Band and in 2014 Gyeongbudaero. This year it is Indie Band’s full-brother, Rock Band, who is the one to beat.

And it is possible. The Derby winner Yeongcheon Ace takes his chance as does Rock Band’s stablemate Triple Nine. He was 2nd in both the Derby and the Minister’s Cup. Could he finally get the big prize this time? It is set to be a fascinating race. Here is a full run-down of the 16-strong field with race records. As per the race conditions, all are Korean bred:

The President’s Cup (KOR G1) – Seoul Racecourse – 2000M – October 18, 2015 (15:15)

1. Yeongcheon Ace [Menifee – Dixie Avenger (Dixie Union)] 3yo colt (11/4/3/4) – Choi Si Dae
The Korean Derby winner has to be respected. He won the Derby with a strong late run and has since run twice, finishing 3rd behind Rock Band and Triple Nine in both the Minister’s Cup and Owner’s Cup. He is likely to try to come from off the pace and will surely be looking to at least place again.

2. Impetus [Exploit – Miss Stravinsky (Stravinsky)] 5yo horse (27/7/2/8) – Ham Wan Sik
Impetus is a useful horse who comes in with a win and two third-place finishes from his last three starts. He can either go out quickly as he did when winning over 1800M in July or come from the back. He faded a little in the closing stages of his only previous try at 2000M though and it is hard to see him beating some of the Busan horses.

3. Triple Nine [Ecton Park – A Little Poke (Pleasant Tap)] 3yo colt (10/6/4/0) – Lim Sung Sil
There could be a lot more to come from this one. He has won six of his ten starts to date and he has 2nd places in the Derby to Yeongcheon Ace and in the Minister’s Cup and Owners’ Cup to Rock Band. In between he managed to win the Gyeongnam Do-Min Ilbo Cup. He is unlikely to want to lead but he will be close to the pace and will surely be involved in the business end of the race. Rock Band may be the more explosive right now but he is a very solid horse whose time will come.

4. Rock Band [Ecton Park – Plie (Dixieland Band)] 3yo colt (7/6/1/0) – Kim Yong Geun
The strong favourite and full brother of 2013 winner Indie Band. He didn’t run as a two-year-old and has only been beaten once in seven starts this year – and that day he was sore and got a terrible trip. He only stepped onto the Classic trail with the final leg, the Minister’s Cup, in which he duly made all to win and then followed it up in the Owners’ Cup. If something sets a crazy pace early or if he gets a bad trip again, he can be beaten but if he runs to his best he surely won’t

5. Mupae Daewang [Volponi – Mup’aegado (Lost Mountain)] 5yo gelding (29/5/3/2) – Seol Dong Bok
This will probably be the Busan horse with the fewest backers and he is yet to win at a higher level than class 3. He comes in following two victories from his last three starts but this will be too much. He generally doesn’t start quickly but may as well try to lead here.

6. Sotong Sidae [Gold Money – Myeonggauihuye (Black Minnaloushe)] 4yo gelding (26/7/4/6) – Park Byeong Yun
This is his frist race since winning the Sports Chosun Cup over this distance in August. That day he beat Haemaru, Pinot Noir and Heukgisa and he wil be fancied to beat them again. Beating the Busan visitors is another thing altogether though but he is perhaps Seoul’s best chance.

7. High Five [Creek Cat – Nam’s Gulch (Gulch)] 5yo horse (29/6/7/3) – Song Keong Yun
After three consecutive 2nd place finishes inclding to Triple Nine in the Gyeongnam Do Min Ilbo, High Five was a class 1 winner last time out over 1400M. He is quick and a place is possible here. He is likely to look to get forward early.

8. Gumpo Sky [Vicar – Perfect Storm (Didyme)] 4yo colt (24/9/7/3) – Kim Dong Young
A really good horse who was 7th in this race last year. He comes in having beaten Ildeung Hanghaesa and Goliath Marine at level weights in the Busan Ilbo Cup in August before running a disappointing last in the Owners’ Cup behind Rock Band last month. We will forgive him that though and give him another chance today. Winning will be tough but he can go well.

9. Ildeung Hanghaesa [Ecton Park – Saeroun Bulpae (Northern Afleet)] 4yo gelding (23/5/5/4) – Masakazu Tanaka
This is another for who winning will be tough but a money finish is possible.He hasn’t won since June but was 2nd to Goliath Marine when giving him weight in July before turning the tables on that horse when running 2nd to Gumpo Sky in August. He was 4th in the Owners’ Cup and the horses who beat him that day will be favoured to do so again but another 4th or even better can’t be ruled out.

10. Goliath Marine [Volponi – Queenie Bee (Geri)] 4yo gelding (25/5/4/4) – Pasquale Borelli
He beat Ildeung Hanghaesa with a weight advantage in July for his most recent win and was then an expected 3rd behind that one and Gumpo Sky in the Busan Ilbo in August at level weights. He was 4th over this distance in his most recent race and if he runs to his best, 4th can’t be completely ruled out. Others are more fancied though. Pasquale Borelli rides in his first Korean Stakes race.

11. Yaho Sunshine [Hawk Wing – Miss Redoubled (Alphabet Soup)] 3yo colt (14/5/2/1) – Lee Chan Ho
A revelation in recent months, he comes in here following three consecutive victories that have propelled him from class 4 to class 2 in double-quick time. His most recent win was in the TJK Trophy on August 29. Good as he is though, this is a huge step up. He has won by leading from the gate and from coming from just off the pace.

12. Jeongsang Bima [Forest Camp – Smokegetenyoureyes (Smokester)] 4yo colt (19/5/4/3) – Park Tae Jong
This one doesn’t arrive in very much form to speak of and is just one race into a comeback after a seven-month absence and was last of 12 in that. Obviously he needed the race but this should be too much. He generally likes to go back at the start and close late on but while the first half of that shouldn’t be a problem here, the closing part may be.

13. Haemaru [Vicar – Forest Flower (Timber Country)] 4yo gelding (19/7/1/4) – Moon Se Young
Along with Sotong Sidae this looks Seoul’s best shot. He was 3rd behind Sotong Sidae in the Sports Chosun Cup in August before disappointing in September over 1800M. He was sent back to trial earlier this month which he did well and with Moon Se Young riding him, he will be backed. The wildcard.

14. Singgeureounachim [Exploit – Singgeureoun (Mr. Adorable)] 7yo horse (52/10/9/13) – Kim Dong Soo
A super-expereinced horse and stalwart of the track for almost five years now. He returned to the winner’s circle for the first time in over a year in June, beating Impetus over this distance and has followed it up with two 4ths. He wil give a good account of himself but others should be sharper.

15. Pinot Noir [Capital Spending Neungnyeokchungman (Pacificbounty)] 5yo mare (21/5/6/2) – Park Eul Woon
The only mare in the race, Pinot Noir will be an outsider. She last won on October 2014 although she has only raced six times since. Her most recent start was in the Sports Chosun Cup in August when she ran 5th behind Sotong Sidae and Haemaru. She usually likes to go back and close but it is going to be tough today.

16. Heukgisa [A.P. Dancer – Mansumugang (Half Term)] 6yo gelding (30/11/5/2) – Lee Joon Chel
On the official ratings, only Gumpo Sky is rated higher but against a bunch of up and coming three-year-olds, that doesn’t mean much. Like all of Seoul’s entrants, Heukgisa is a solid and honest campaigner who looks to have just a little too much to find to beat the Busan raiders. LAst start he was 5th in the Sports Chosun behind Sotong Sidae, Haemaru and Pinot Noir. He won by leading from gate to wire over this distance in April and may look to lead.

Summary: Again it looks like Busan’s race with all the main contenders having travelled up from the South coast. This is an opportunity for Rock Band – who is expected to be Tokyo Daishoten bound instead of Grand Prix bound if he comes through this – to show how good he really is. As usual, pace will make this race; if some Seoul horses with little to lose decide to go for it early, things could get very interesting but overall, it will be expected to look like the following:

Selections: (4) Rock Band (3) Triple Nine (9) Ildeung Hanghaesa (1) Yeongcheon Ace

Iku and Jo Sung Gon Dominate At Busan

There isn’t a jockey challenge bet in Korea but if there was, yesterday at Busan it would have been a two-man race with Jo Sung Gon and Ikuyasu Kurakane dominating the Friday afternoon card.

Four winners: Ikuyasu Kurakane (Pic: Hiromi Kobayashi)

Four winners: Ikuyasu Kurakane (Pic: Hiromi Kobayashi)

Of course, punters had seen this coming. With the likes of Kim Yong Geun, Choi Si Dae and Masa Tanaka among eight Busan riders in Seoul for the President’s Cup on Sunday (Union rules say a jockey who has the temerity to go and ride in a big race at the other track isn’t allowed to ride at his or her home track on the same weekend) and You Hyun Myung on the long-term injured list, Jo and Kurakane were really the only Big Beasts of the weighing room in action.

Jo Sung Gon managed to get himself beaten on two favourites but like Kurakane, still emerged with four winners from the eleven-race card.

Highlight of Jo’s winners was perhaps a dominant victory for the young US import Doraonpogyeongseon (Kantharos) the third of his four winners which all arrived consecutively in races 5 to 8. Doraonpogyeongseon, named after a Grand Prix winning horse of the 1990’s, was getting his maiden win on his second start.

Kurakane’s winners arrived in pairs. He rode two-year-old debut-maker My Alice (Limitless Bid) to an eye-catching, albeit hard to judge how good it really was, eleven-length  triumph in race 2 but the highlight was in the final race 11 when he guided two-year-old import Gakbyeolhan (Big Brown) to win by three lengths.

Four winners: Jo Sung Gon

Four winners: Jo Sung Gon

The juvenile Gakbyeolhan was beating seven older horses over a mile on what was just his third career start and looks quite a prospect.

Had there been a jockey challenge and had it been run under Hong Kong rules, Kurakane would have come out as the winner due to riding three 2nd place finishers as well – two of them behind Jo’s winners. Contrastingly Jo, aside from his winners, only got one other into the top three.

While the eight Busan riders in the capital will be riding in the big race on Sunday afternoon, both Jo Sung Gon and Ikuyasu Kurakane have a full book of rides on Busan’s short six-race card on Sunday. It would be very surprising if either failed to add to their weekend total.