This is the first of a few year-end posts over the next week. We’ll look at breeding, betting, and the foreign jockeys and trainers, as well as racing in general. We’ll start with the honours though and while there are many ways to to do Horse Of The Year, the bottom line is, it’s my blog, so it’s my choice! Keeping it simple this year so just nine categories and in all honesty, there are standouts in each one.
Keeping it simple this year so just seven categories and to be honest, there are standouts in each one this year.
2yo Colt: Power Blade (KOR) [Menifee – Cheonmacheong (Lost Mountain)]
2yo Filly: Ottug Ottugi (KOR) [Forest Camp – Main Objective (Lion Heart)]
The winner of the Breeders’ Cup race generally takes this and Power Blade heads into 2016 the early favourite for the 2016 Triple Crown races. He was 2nd to Ottug Ottugi in the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup – that win making his stablemate the obvious choice to win the filly category – but has since overcome her twice. Honourable mentions for OS Hwadap, a US import who remains unbeaten after four races and Waikiki, who won the Gwacheon Governor’s Cup. Banjaui Jewang, 2nd in the Breeders’ Cup, may turn out to be better than all of them but at the moment Power Blade is top of his crop.
3yo Colt: Bold Kings (USA) [Afleet Express – Bold Arrival (Gilded Time)]
3yo Filly: Meni Money (KOR) [Menifee – Pocketful Of Money (Running Stag)]
Any three-year-old who wins the President’s Cup would usually automatically win this but not Triple Nine this year. The reason is that Bold Kings has done everything he has been asked of. Seven runs and seven wins culminating in victory in the Grand Prix Stakes, Korea’s biggest race, makes it his. Triple Nine is obviously the runner-up while honorable mentions go to Korean Derby winner Yeongcheon Ace and Minister’s Cup winner Rock Band. Also a word too for Cheongu. 3rd in the Asia Challenge Cup, he also represented Korea in Singapore and Japan and is currently in Dubai preparing for the World Cup Carnical.
It’s not been a great year on the filly side. Jangpung Parang won the Oaks but it was her only victory of the year. Instead, the honour goes to Meni Money, 2nd in the Oaks and Nonghyup Chairman’s Stakes but winner of five of her nine starts in 2015 including the Sports Chosun Cup.
Older Horse: Choegang Schiller (USA) [Artie Schiller – Changeable (Miswaki)]
Older Filly/Mare: Heba (USA) [Peace Rules – Sue’s Temper (Temperence Hill)]
Choegang Schiller provided the standout moment of summer, claiming victory for Korea in the Asia Challenge Cup, beating last year’s winner, Singapore’s El Padrino into 2nd. That alone is enough to make him our older horse of the year. On the same day, Chief Red Can won the KRA Cup Classic while honourable mention goes to Gumpo Sky, 2nd in the Grand Prix.
While Gamdonguibada won the Busan Mayor’s Cup at the beginning of July, it was Heba who succeeded her as Queens’ Tour Champion, winning the KNN Cup and Governor’s Cup in the autumn.
Horse of the Year: Bold Kings (USA) [Afleet Express – Bold Arrival (Gilded Time)]
It is sadly all too rare for us in Korea to witness a truly gripping race but this year’s Grand Prix delivered. The battle between Bold Kings and Gumpo Sky in the home straight while Clean Up Joy and Triple Nine desperately tried to close, was pure thoroughbred racing drama at its best. With jockeys Jo Sung Gon and Ikuyasu Kurakane both producing arguably the rides of their careers, in the end Bold Kings simply refused to be beaten. Flat-out, the will to win he demonstrated that day makes Bold Kings the Horse Racing in Korea Horse of the Year for 2016. What a prospect he is for 2016.
Jockey Of The Year: Moon Se Young
Jo Sung Gon breaking the 100 winner barrier for a year at Busan coupled with his Grand Prix win on Bold Kings was impressive but Moon Se Young is once again jockey of the year. His 147 winners across the season, very nearly double the next best, with a win percentage of 25% makes Moon the standard Korean jockeys aspire to. He needs rivals; Djordje Perovic’s arrival in Korea has given trainers another first class option. Jo Sung Gon himself relocating to the capital and up and comer Lee Chan Ho continuing to get on better horses promises to give the Champion jockey a whole new challenge in 2016. Expect him to rise to it.
Trainer Of The Year: Kim Young Kwan
Another boring choice. It was tempting to give this to Peter Wolsley for Bold Kings but the Stable 19 Machine at Busan continues to suck in all the talent and churn out winner after winner. This year Kim Young Kwan completed the career “Grand Slam” – training the winner of every Korean group race at least once – and once more dominated the Busan Trainers’ Championship.