Month: August 2016

Seoul & Busan Sunday: Race-By-Race Preview of Owner’s Cup Day (August 14)

Overseas-trained accepted nominations for the Keeneland Korea Cup & Sprint have been released as have the preliminary ones for Korean-trained horses. And some of those Korean-trained ones will line up at Busan on Sunday afternoon in the valuable Group 3 Owners’ Cup.

Triple Nine, Success Story and Gumpo Sky are all nominated for the Cup and they along with Rock Band will be the top fancies for the Owner’s Cup which will be run over a mile and will be available for betting on the TAB in Australia. English racecards are here. Brief notes on selected races below:

Seoul Race 6: Class 5 / 1300M / Handicap / KRW 40 Million / 12:20 (SIN)

(6) HONEY BUTTER NINO is ready to win again on what will be his fourth attempt at this class. Beaten four lengths into 2nd last time, he can go one better here. The danger is (8) DEVIL MAN, who’s had a string of near misses and drops back in trip following back to back 3rd places at 1700M Both will look to come from just off the pace. That pace is likely to be set by (2) PINK STAR, who’s been in form of late and can stay on while (5) WANJEON MULGYEOL and up-in-class (1) HAPPIEST are others with claims.

 

Selections (6) Honey Butter Nino (8) Devil Man (2) Pink Star (1) Happiest
Next Best 5, 3, 12, 4
Outsiders 7, 9, 10, 11
Fast Starters 2, 3

Busan Race 1: Class 5 / 1200M / Handicap / KRW 40 Million / 12:40 (SIN)

(10) FEISTY flopped when favourite in a competitive race over 1300M on July 8th but Kim Young Kwan’s gelding showed good ability in two starts prior to that and is favoured to come back into form here. Similarly disappointing when well backed last time was (8) ICE MARINE and she too should improve today. One who ran to expectations last time was (6) CHOA, the gelding running 2nd over class and distance on July 15th and a repeat should be aimed for here. (4) SUNGANUI BEOPCHIK and (5) ONLY BLUE are also in contention.

Selections (10) Feisty (8) Ice Marine (6) Choa (5) Only Blue
Next Best 4, 9, 7
Outsiders 1, 2, 3
Fast Starters 5, 8

Seoul Race 7: Class 4 / 1000M / Handicap / KRW 60 Million / 13:05 (SIN)

With two wins from four and back to the minimum distance today, (1) GOLD MORNING has plenty of potential and is the one to beat here. She should lead gate-to-wire. It won’t be a procession though. Both (5) JOARA and (9) GOLD MUSIC have proved capable at this level and will be dangerous. The former beat (2) BEYOND LIMIT last start but Beyond Limit too could welcome the opportunity to run at the minimum distance again. (10) JINNGYEONGUI GEOIN hasn’t really pushed on from an impressive start to his career but was a close 5th last time and is one of the quickest of these on his day.

Selections (1) Gold Morning (2) Beyond Limit (10) Jinngyeongui Geoin (5) Joara
Next Best 9, 4, 3, 8
Outsiders 6, 7, 11
Fast Starters 1, 7, 8, 9

Busan Race 2: Class 4 / 1300M / Handicap / KRW 55 Million / 13:25 (SIN)         

Small but competitive field here. Both (5) OCEAN LINE and (6) ACE SINHWA drop back in trip today, the latter for the first time in many months. Ocean Line will look to lead while the Aussie-bred Ace Sinhwa will try to come from just off the pace and both should be involved at the business end of the race. (8) BIO BLUE is two races into a comeback following a lengthy absence. Neither have gone especially well but both have been at 1000M and the increased trip should be beneficial and we will expect an improvement today. (9) TOUGH COUNTRY is still looking for his maiden win but comes in following consecutive 3rd places and should match. (1) SEVEN PARTY will welcome the drop back in distance.

Selections (6) Ace Sinhwa (8) Bio Blue (5) Ocean Line (9) Tough Country
Next Best 1, 4, 3
Outsiders 2, 7
Fast Starters 3, 5, 8

Busan Race 3: Class 3 / 1400M / Handicap / KRW 72 Million / 14:15 (SIN)

 He struggled in the Korean Derby and also in the Minister’s Cup, the final two legs of the Korean Triple Crown at Seoul, but back in Busan and back at seven furlongs today, (8) SAEROUN STEALTH should have far too much for this field. (3) SUPER STORM and (6) MACHU PICCHU, who ran 2nd in decent races at 1400M and 1600M respectively last time are the two with the strongest claims to be able to compete with the favourite while (4) BYEOLMURI was an improved 5th (behind Super Storm) last start and can look for more improvement. Second place specialist (2) WIN GO MAN is rather unfortunate to find himself up in class here but should be able to give a good account of himself.

Selections (8) Saeroun Stealth (3) Super Storm (6) Machu Picchu (2) Win Go Man
Next Best 4, 7
Outsiders 1, 5
Fast Starters 3, 4

Seoul Race 9: Class 3 / 1200M / Handicap / KRW 75 Million / 15:00 (SIN)

Up in class following a comfortable victory over a decent class 4 field at 1200M at the end of June, (7) CLEAN UP KING can make an immediate impact here. Most likely content to let others lead, he has strong finishing speed and the lightly raced three-year-old can win this. (1) MENI MUSIC hasn’t quite lived up to her early potential but is always well backed and generally gives a good account of herself. She will set the pace here and winning this is within her scope. (8) JEWELRY PARK was a well-beaten 3rd of 7 on her first try at this level last month but with champion jockey Moon Se Young returning to the ride, she’ll have backers to make amends here. (2) HUIMANG ROCKET, up in class after a solid win, and (6) NORTHERN HOJAE best of the rest.

Selections (7) Clean Up King (1) Meni Music (8) Jewelry Park (2) Huimang Rocket
Next Best 6, 5
Outsiders 3, 4
Fast Starters 1, 2, 5

Busan Race 4: Class Open – The Owners’ Cup (KOR G3) – 1600M / Weight for Age / KRW 400 Million / 15:30 (SIN)

(5) TRIPLE NINE has suffered unexpected reverses in his last two races but he will still be heavy favourite to triumph here. He won Korea’s richest race last year and beat Success Story by a nose in the 1800M Mayor’s Cup last start. He is the one to beat. (8) SUCCESS STORY landed two 3rd place finishes at the Dubai World Cup Carnival earlier this year and since returning to Korea has added two more 3rd places. He’ll be on speed early as ever and this time can go at least one better. (10) ROCK BAND is Triple Nine’s stablemate and was his big rival last autumn before injury saw him out of action for several months. He returned in June and was back in the winner’s circle in July winning an admittedly indifferent handicap over 1800M. With a bit more progress he will be competitive again here. (4) GUMPO SKY was well beaten in the Mayor’s Cup but remains a danger and will be on the early speed. (7) CHEONJI PARK is an improver and looks to be the wildcard.

Selections (5) Triple Nine (8) Success Story (10) Rock Band (4) Gumpo Sky
Next Best 7
Outsiders 1, 2, 3, 6, 9
Fast Starters 2, 4, 8, 10

Seoul Race 10: Class 3 / 1400M / Handicap / KRW 75 Million / 16:00 (SIN)

It took (4) BOEUN YONGSA ten goes to get his maiden victory but once he did, another win followed right away at class and distance and he’s got every chance of making it three in a row here. Although he did win at class 4 carrying this weight, today he’s giving plenty away, including 5kg to (8) FORMER MISSION. The US import by Temple City is up in class following his own maiden win on July 17th. The class gap shouldn’t be a problem and the increased trip should be to his advantage. (2) REWARD HIGH is up in class following her maiden win at the ninth time of asking and can be competitive at this level while (7) KWAESOK POWER completes the set of those at this level for the first time and is a winner at this distance.  (1) TRIPLE SHINING should improve today in more favourable company than his last two outings.

Selections (8) Former Mission (4) Boeun Yongsa (2) Reward High (1) Triple Shining
Next Best 7, 3
Outsiders 5, 6
Fast Starters 1, 5

Seoul Race 11: Class 1 / 1800M / Handicap / KRW 120 Million / 16:30 (SIN)

A disappointingly small field here as Seoul’s class 1 contingent remains in its boxes instead of facing (7) CLEAN UP JOY, who will be a prohibitive favourite to maintain his 100% record at his home track this year. He was beaten by Triple Nine and Success Story by a length in the Busan Mayor’s Cup last month but is superior to his rivals here even if he is giving them all a minimum of 8kg. That weight is perhaps the only doubt and should anyone wish to take him on they should look to YTN Cup winner (5) MISO WANGJA who is still a work in progress with plenty of potential. (3) BEST RUN and (4) WINNING ANDY are other candidates for places.

Selections (7) Clean Up Joy (5) Miso Wangja (3) Best Run (4) Winning Andy
Next Best 1, 6, 2
Fast Starters 2, 5
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Triple Crown Winner Power Blade Set To Lead Home Challenge in Korea Cup

Preliminary nominations closed on Friday for the inaugural runnings of the Keeneland Korea Cup and Keeneland Korea Sprint, which take place at Seoul Racecourse on Friday September 11. Overseas-trained nominations will be published over the weekend but Korea-trained nominations came out Friday afternoon and it’s a who’s who of the top horses on the peninsula with Triple Crown winner Power Blade set to lead the domestic challenge in the Billion-Won Cup.

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Triple Crown winner Power Blade is nominated for the Keeneland Korea Cup (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Triple Nine and Beolmaui Kkum as well as Success Story join Power Blade in being nominated for the Cup while Oaks winning filly Ottug Ottugi and Perdido Pomeroy are among nineteen who hope to take their chance in the Sprint.

Here’s the full list of nominations for both races. It’s expected that eight Korea-trained horses will run in each race against eight overseas-trained horses:

Keeneland Korea Cup (1800M-KOR G1)

Beolmaui Kkum (USA) [Put It Back – Wild Dixie Gal (Wild Event)] 6-year-old Horse
Triple Nine (KOR) [Ecton Park – A Little Poke( Pleasant Tap)] 4-year-old Colt
Power Blade (KOR) [Menifee – Cheonmachong (Lost Mountain)] 3-year-old Colt
Gumpo Sky (KOR) [Vicar – Perfect Storm (Didyme)] 5-year-old Horse
Success Story (KOR) [Peace Rules – Power Pack (Lil’s Lad)] 5-year-old Horse
Dynamic Dash (USA) [Pleasantly Perfect – See Rock City (Tapit)] 4-year-old Colt
Saengil Gippeum (USA) [Parading — Minny’s Niece (Quiet American)] 3-year-old Colt
Dongbang Daero (USA) [Curlin – Willa Joe (El Gran Senor)] 4-year-old Colt
Diferent Dimension (USA) [Into Mischief – Pardon My Sarong (Souvenir Copy)] 4-year-old Colt
Buhwarui Banseok (USA) [Tizway – Aim For The Moon (Deputy Minister)] 3-year-old Colt
Choegangiji (USA) [Mineshaft – Woodland Shadow (Woodman)] 4-year-old Colt
Mighty Gem (USA) [Macho Uno – Shimmer (Pulpit)] 4-year-old Filly
Wonder Bolt (USA) [Desert Warrior – Little Champ (Great Gladiator)] 6-year-old Gelding
Mirae Yeongung (KOR) [Aragorn –Willing Miss (More Than Ready)] 5-year-old Horse
Bichui Jeongsang (USA) [Wildcat Heir – Persimmon Honey (Colonial Affair)] 5-year-old Mare
Dynamic Jilju (USA) [Forestry – Beat Your Feet (Dixieland Band)] 5-year-old Horse
Damyang Chukje (USA) [Good Reward – Strategy (Foot Stone)] 7-year-old Horse

Keeneland Korea Sprint (1200M-KOR G1):

Ubaki (KOR) [Menifee – Cadillac Caper (An Eldorado)] 6-year-old Gelding
Bit Blade (KOR) [Rockport Harbor – Natalie Beach (Tempranero)] 4-year-old gelding
Ottug Ottugi (KOR) [Forest Camp – Main Objective (Lion Heart)] 3-year-old filly
Gamdonguibada (USA) [Werblin –Radyla (Country Pine)] 7-year-old Mare
Oreuse (USA) [Smoke Glacken – Heavenly Splendor (Point Given)] 7-year-old Horse
Perdido Pomeroy (USA) [Pomeroy – Boldest Of All (Bold Executive)] 3-year-old Colt
Miracle Line (USA) [Latent Heat – Great Thought (Empire Maker)] 4-year-old Colt
Macheon Bolt (USA) [Old Fashioned – Beech Bag (Devil’s Bag)] 4-year-old Gelding
First Magical (USA) [First Dude – Magical Promise (Montbrook)] 3-year-old Colt
Supreme Magic (USA) [Lookin At Lucky – Thru N’ Thru (Stormy Atlantic)] 4-year-old Filly
Tapipoint (USA) [Concord Point – Peace pledge (Our Emblem)] 4-year-old Gelding
Triple Five (USA) [Girolamo – High Falutin Gal (Silver Deputy)] 3-year-old Gelding
Gabo Myeongun (USA) [Sharp Humor – Tingwithasting (Wild Rush)] 4-year-old Colt
Cheongu (USA) [Old Fashioned – So Much Fun (Speightstown)] 4-year-old Colt
Parang Juuibo (USA) [With Distinction – Spicy Souffle (French Deputy)] 6-year-old Horse
Goreous Dream (KOR) [Sharp Humor – Hey Gorgeous (Cherokee Run)] 3-year-old Colt
Choegang Schiller (USA) [Artie Schiller – Changeable (Miswaki)] 5-year-old Gelding
Zentenary (USA) [First Defence – Celestic (Sky Classic)] 5-year-old Gelding
Haemaru (KOR) [Vicar – Forest Flower (Timber Country)] 5-year-old Gelding

Busan Friday: Race By Race Preview (August 12)

Just Seoul and Busan this weekend as the Jeju Ponies take their summer vacation and that means its another lond card on the south coast on Friday with no less than 14 races from 14:30 to 21:00.

On Sunday, the feature race race at Busan will be the Owners’ Cup. Korea Cup Day possibles Triple Nine, Rock Band and Success Story are all set to run over a mile in what looks a very solid race. We’ll have a full preview of that on Saturday. In the meantime, English cards are here. Brief notes on races 1-11 below:

Race 1: Class 6 / 1000M / Allowance / KRW 55 Million / 13:30 (SIN)

Nine debut makers here and fastest in trials was (8) DAREUMBAKJIL which should be enough to make her favourite. Among others who looked competent in the morning were (5) RACHEL and (6) SILLAUI DALBAM, both of whom have top jockey bookings and should go well. Slightly less eye-catching but worth considering are (2) PARTY AGAIN and (7) KING ICE.

Selections (8) Dareumbakjil (5) Rachel (6) Sillaui Dalbam (2) Party Again
Next Best 7, 3, 9, 1, 4
Fast Starters 4, 6, 8

Race 2: Class 6 / 1200M / Allowance / KRW 20 Million / 13:55 (SIN)

(6) NAMYANG TOWER finally gets a chance to go further than 1000M and it could well be what she needs against very modest company here. Main danger is (10) JUNGANG YOJEONG who’s shown promise in two prior starts and comes in fresh following eleven weeks out. (4) CHASEDAE has been coming closer in recent starts and should look to place again while (1) SAEROUN NA and (5) AQUA QUEEN look best of the rest.

Selections (6) Namyang Tower (10) Jungang Yojeong (4) Chasedae (5) Aqua Queen
Next Best 1, 11, 8, 7
Outsiders 2, 3, 9
Fast Starters 3, 6, 7

Race 3: Class 6 / 1300M / Allowance / KRW 40 Million / 14:20 (SIN)

Apprentice jockey Jung Do Yun will ride his first career winner if he can guide (2) DANCING STAR to victory in this all-filly race. She beat (5) SHARP QUEENS as the pair raced 3rd and 4th over 1000M last month and is the one to beat here. Look for her to try to make all. Bart Rice’s (6) LISA was a decent 4th when unfancied on debut a month ago and can progress further here while (4) SOLYEONJISE and the more experienced (8) PALMYRA have also shown glimpses of ability.

Selections (2) Dancing Star (6) Lisa (5) Sharp Queens (4) Solyeonjise
Next Best 8, 3, 1, 7
Fast Starters 2, 8

Race 4: Class 6 / 1300M / Allowance / KRW 40 Million / 14:45 (SIN)

Small field with two standouts. (1) TOP OF QUEEN debuted inauspiciously in January and then didn’t return until last month when she dead-heated for 3rd at 1200M. The extra half furlong may suit here. The other top pick is (5) GAMSEONG POKBAL who has a best of 2nd among five prior outings and should also welcome this distance. (2) GOYOHAN JILJU is yet to win in 23 but comes in following back to back 4th place finishes and should place here while (4) ROAD TO SUCCESS is the best of a limited rest.

Selections (1) Top Of Queen (5) Gamseong Pokbal (2) Goyohan Jilju (4) Road To Success
Next Best 6, 7, 3
Fast Starters 4

Race 5: Class 4 / 1000M / Handicap / KRW 55 Million / 15:10 (SIN)

Aussie import (1) POKPUNGUI JEWANG is one of just two prior winners in this field and underneath the inform Yonekura Satoshi, he’s the pick to win again. His main rival could be another from Australia with (7) BARAMUI HEUNJEOK, a 3-year-old gelding by Equiano, making his debut having shown plenty of potential in a trial last month. Also looking good in a July trial was (9) SINSEGYE SINHWA, who returns from almost four months out to take on the minimum distance for the first time in over a year. Kim Young Kwan’s (4) DIVINE TOUCH will surely improve from his debut while (2) MARION COUNTY did improve to 3rd last start and can keep it going here.

Selections(1) Pokpungui Jewang (4) Divine Touch (7) Baramui Heunjeok (9) Sinsegye Sinhwa
Next Best 2, 6, 10
Outsiders 3, 5, 8
Fast Starters 2, 3, 6, 7

Race 6: Class 4 / 1300M / Handicap / KRW 55 Million / 15:40 (SIN)

With two wins from seven and a 2nd place at domestic class 4 last start, (1) TURBO ENERGY looks very nicely in here against modest imported opposition and should have too much with a gate to wire victory the most likely outcome. Another Korean-bred, (7) LADY CHAMP should also be in with a chance while among the imports, (2) MAERYEOK DEONGEORI, (3) GYERIMUI JILJU and, especially, (6) QUEEN ELEGANCE are best.

Selections (1) Turbo Energy (6) Queen Elegance (7) Lady Champ (2) Maeryeok Deongeori
Next Best 3, 8, 4, 5
Fast Starters 1

Race 7: Class 5 / 1200M / Handicap / KRW 40 Million / 16:10 (SIN)

(1) FIRST SUN got her maiden win at the second time of asking on July 15th and while up in class and also slightly in distance, she can win again. Expect here to try to come from just behind the early pace. That pace could well be set by (7) BOUND QUEENS, beaten by First Sun on both their debuts in June but a 12-length winner on her reappearance last month and she could go all the way again. Completing a trio of up in class following maiden wins on their second starts is (6) SMART LADY. She’ll be on pace early as well and must be considered. Among those who already have experience at this level, (3) CAPE MAGIC and (8) FOUR STAR look most likely.

Selections (7) Bound Queens (1) First Sun (6) Smart Lady (3) Cape Magic
Next Best 8, 2, 11, 5, 4
Outsiders 9, 10, 12
Fast Starters 4, 6, 7

Race 8: Class 5 / 1300M / Handicap / KRW 40 Million / 16:40 (SIN)

Large field and really competitive with many having claims. (2) OH MY CAPTAIN beat (3) SUPER BLADE as the pair raced 4th and 6th at class and distance last month. The latter especially will be expected to improve here. (9) BAEDARI HAENGUN is yet to win in twelve but enters following two 2nd places and a 3rd and drops slightly down in distance. She likes to come from well off the pace and the race could set up nicely for her. Similarly (11) DANGCHAN JILJU has come close in recent starts and could well have a win in him at this level. (1) SEUNGJEONPILSA and the up in class (5) TAEYANG GWANGSOK are others to consider in a wide open race.

Selections (3) Super Blade (9) Baedari Haengun (2) Oh My Captain (11) Dangchan Jilju
Next Best 5, 1, 6, 8, 4
Outsiders 7, 10, 12
Fast Starters 1, 3

Race 9: Class 5 / 1600M / Handicap / KRW 40 Million / 17:10 (SIN)

Barry Irwin’s (5) CHASTITY returned from five months off to get her maiden win over 1400M on July 15th and has every chance of following up here on her first try at a mile. (10) BAEKDU YEONGUNG, 2nd in a challenging race at class and distance a month ago is the clear main danger although (1) BAEDARI GOSU, winner of an all-filly event at 1300M on July 17th is also to be considered. She beat (6) GO JJANG by a nose that day and the latter should be competitive too. (4) THE STARS, 4th behind Chastity last start, looks best of the rest.

Selections (5) Chastity (10) Baekdu Yeongung (1) Baedari Gosu (6) Go Jjang
Next Best 4, 3
Outsiders 2, 7, 8, 9
Fast Starters 3, 5

Race 10: Class 4 / 1300M / Handicap / KRW 55 Million / 15:50 (SIN)

An eight-length winner of a good 1400M race at class 5 at the end of June (6) SMART VALOR looks to have potential for much more and will be warm favourite to lead from gate to wire here. (1) FIVE VICTORS never travelled well and ended up last when well-backed in June but can be given another chance coming in fresh after 7 weeks off and should be the main danger. (4) GANGHAN NAMJA and (7) SAMIL STAR are others who should be challenging for the places.

Selections (6) Smart Valor (1) Five Victors (7) Samil Star (4) Ganghan Namja
Next Best 5, 2, 3, 8
Fast Starters 1, 3, 6

Race 11: Class 4 / 1200M / Handicap / KRW 55 Million / 18:30 (SIN)

After three consecutive 2nd place finishes, it’s time (1) ILMANGMUJE went one better and got back in the winner’s circle. She’ll look to lead all the way here. (7) HUIMANG QUEEN, winner of three from seven and quick when successful over 1000M last start is a big danger as is (6) VALKYRIE, who was 3rd on her first try at this class a month. Ago. Those three will be the market leaders with (2) WORLD QUICK the best of the rest.

Selections (1) Ilmangmuje (7) Huimang Queen (6) Valkyrie (2) World Quick
Next Best 5, 3, 4
Fast Starters 1, 7

Weekend Round-Up: Choi Eun Kyeung Rides First Winner

There’s been quite the heatwave across the peninsula for the past week and with temperatures in Seoul hitting 35C, it was probably for the best that it coincided with the capital track’s summer vacation. It wasn’t much cooler at Busan, which returned following its own weekend off last week and where there were no less than 23 races across Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday will have been memorable for apprentice jockey Choi Eun Kyeung. The 19-year-old qualified from the Jockey Academy this spring and was sent to Busan where she is not only the track’s only female jockey but also the first Korean female to be licensed there since 2010.

Choi landed on her feet on the South Coast, however, being assigned to South African trainer Bart Rice. She made her debut back on July 10th, riding For My Sis to a par 5th place. She didn’t have another ride until Saturday when her boss put her on Barry Irwin’s Swoop in race 2 at Busan. Swoop, who had raced 6 times without success, was sent off as an 8/1 chance for the 1000M race and didn’t get off to the greatest of starts, exiting the gate hesitantly and was last into stride.

However, the three-year-old improved around the turn and under a hands and heels ride from Choi, picked off his rivals in the home straight, running on to win by half a length. It was a second Korean winner for US owner Barry Irwin and another for Bart Rice who continues to be the in-form trainer at Busan. As for Choi, it was her only ride of the weekend and she suddenly finds herself with a 50% win rate.

In other races at the weekend, Diferent Dimension (Into Mischief) returned to the winner’s circle in Sunday’s feature handicap. Peter Wolsley’s US import struggled under a high weight last start but ran away from a decent class 1 field in the 1800M test. Diferent Dimension now has 8 wins from his 13 starts and was ridden by Seo Seung Un, who was partnering his 6th winner of the weekend.

Among the foreign jockey ranks, both Yonekura Satoshi and Paolo Aragoni rode winners.

Busan Sunday Notes (August 7)

No racing in Seoul this weekend so Sunday sees a Busan-only day. There are 15 races at the south coast track with the first at 10:50am and the last at 18:00.

English language racecards can be found here. Notes on selected races below:

Race 6: Class 5 / 1000M / Handicap / KRW 40 Million / 13:30 (KST)

(7) SUPER JJANGJJANGI made all to win comfortably on debut a month ago and while up in class today, should have too much for these. (9) YEONGTO DAEWANG, a much improved 3rd at this class last time should also be off to a fast start and can challenge while (4) V DIVA and (10) FOCUS LINE both return from a couple of months off and can go well here. Best of the rest is (8) JAYUROUN HWANHUI

Selections (7) Super Jjangjjangi (4) V Diva (10) Focus Line (9) Yeongto Daewang
Next Best 8, 3, 5, 2
Outsiders 1, 6, 11
Fast Starters 7, 8, 9

Race 7: Class 5 / 1200M / Handicap / KRW 40 Million / 14:00 (KST)

(4) MACHEON CHIRON is up in class and distance following a six-length win over 1000M on July 1st and can go on to win again here. She will look to make all as will (6) YUSEONGCHEOREOM, also up in class following victory on her debut in June, albeit slightly less impressively and in slightly weaker company. Yet to win, (2) HAEGA TTEUNDA is also up in class and can come close once more while of those with experience at this level, (10) BIHO JILJU, 2nd at this distance a month ago in decent company looks the best and will be away to a quick start. Trainer and jockey combination means that (8) HWANGJEUI TANSAENG, disappointing on his return from a spell two weeks ago, will be given another chance.

Selections (4) Macheon Chiron (6) Yuseongchereom (10) Biho Jilju (8) Hwangjeui Tansaeng
Next Best 2, 5, 9
Outsiders 1, 3, 7
Fast Starters 4, 6, 10

Race 8: Class 5 / 1300M / Handicap / KRW 40 Million / 14:30 (KST)

(8) SUPERNOVA IJI was a closely beaten 5th last start at class and distance but from gate 6 today can get to the front early under Yonekura Satoshi. If she can get forward, she can win this. Main danger – and possible favourite – is (8) CAPITAL GANGJA. She’s been getting closer at this level and was 2nd in a decent all-filly race a month ago. She’s beaten (3) AREUMDAUN YEOWANG in each of her last two but that filly has also been improving and is capable of finding the money at this level. (2) YEONGWON CHUKJE and (5) KWAESOK BOLT are also worth considering in what looks a nicely competitive race.

Selections (6) Supernova Iji (8) Capital Gangja (2) Yeongwon Chukje (3) Areumdaun Yeowang
Next Best 5, 1
Outsiders 4, 7, 9
Fast Starters 6

Race 9: Class 4 / 1300M / Handicap / KRW 55 Million / 15:00 (KST)

Another Bart Rice one on top here with (9) DAEHANUIMYEONGSUNG poised to return to the winner’s circle having come very close in each of her last four starts. She drops down just slightly in distance today and that could make the difference. Thomas Gillespie’s (6) GREAT SONG is yet to win in four but has been getting closer and looks to have a win in him at some stage at this level. He can go close once more although does have to deal with top weight. (12) MUJEOKUI SAMSON was an encouraging 4th when back from four months off on July 1st and can build on that today while both (4) WHITE CASTLE and (10) EOROK both have claims.

Selections (9) Daehanuimyeongsung (6) Great Song (12) Mujeokui Samson (10) Eorok
Next Best 4, 7, 1, 5
Outsiders 2, 3, 8, 11
Fast Starters 2, 12

Race 10: Class 4 / 1200M / Handicap / KRW 55 Million / 15:30 (KST)

(8) SPECIAL ROOKIE was 4th in the Oaks behind her stablemate Ottug Ottugi and returned to action last month to win over a mile. She drops down to a sprint distance today for her first try at class 4 and should have too much. She makes all here. (6) HWANHUIUI BYEOL, also a fast starter, is the main danger while the up in class (3) WORLD FLASH can be competitive. Always competitive is (7) FOR MY SIS and while (4) GANGJA DAERO is yet to win in 37 outings, he comes in following his sixth 2nd place and can aim for the money again today.

Selections (8) Special Rookie (6) Hwanhuiui Byeol (7) For My Sis (3) World Flash
Next Best 4, 11, 1
Outsiders 2, 5, 9, 10
Fast Starters 1, 3, 6, 8

Race 11: Class 4 / 1200M / Handicap / KRW 55 Million / 16:00 (KST)

Thomas Gillespie’s (7) JUNGANG YEOJE comes in following three straight wins and looks very nicely in here against this modest imported opposition. She should be looking at four-in-a-row, most likely making all. (5) TAEGWON CHAMP is yet to win in fourteen but enters in reasonable form and should be competitive, however, the main danger may be debut-maker (10) I’M YOUR FATHER, a $50,000 purchase as a yearling who looked good when trialling last month and has a top jockey on board. (3) DANCING CAT and (8) DAEHO GANGJA are best of the rest.

Selections (7) Jungang Yeoje (10) I’m Your Father (5) Taegwon Champ (3) Dancing Cat
Next Best 8, 4, 12, 1
Outsiders 2, 6, 9, 11
Fast Starters 3, 7, 11

Korea Cup & Sprint Nominations Well Underway / Keeneland Sponsor Both Races

There are just a week to go until preliminary nominations close for the inaugural Korea Cup and Korea Sprint. The two international races, which will be sponsored by Keeneland, will be run at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday September 11th.

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Choegang Schiller and Lee Chan Ho won last year’s Asia Challenge Cup which this year is the Korea Sprint (Pic: Ross Holburt)

The Keeneland Korea Cup has a total purse of 1 Billion Won ($830,000) – making it the most valuable race ever to be run in Korea – and the Keeneland Korea Sprint 700 Million Won ($600,000) and there has been keen interest in both races with close to 50 nominations from overseas so far. The bulk of those are from Japan and Singapore, however, horses from Hong Kong, UAE, France and Ireland are also set to take their chance.

Reports in Hong Kong confirm that well known runners Gun Pit and Circuit Land have been nominated for the Cup and Rich Tapestry and Super Jockey for the Sprint:

Early Cup and Sprint nominations from Japan and Singapore are strong too for the two races, which will be run on Seoul’s sand track at 1800M and 1200M respectively. While fewer in number, those from Europe and the UAE are also extremely competent. The full list of nominations, including local ones from Korea, will be released during next Friday’s card at Busan Racecourse. There will be a maximum field size of 16 for each race.

Keeneland, whose three annual sales are popular with Korean buyers, previously sponsored a race at Seoul on Derby Day in 2015 and were quick to acquire naming rights for the two races. “For many years, Keeneland has enjoyed a successful partnership with Korea and its horsemen through our premier horse sales. We now look forward to supporting the KRA as they prepare to welcome the world to Seoul” said Bill Thomason, Keeneland President and CEO in a joint press-release last month

In that same release the KRA’s Executive Director of Racing, Yangtae Park said of the event “Following our recent promotion to PART II and our successful hosting of international races with Japan and Singapore over the past three years, we are delighted to present the inaugural Keeneland Korea Cup, the most valuable race ever to be run in Korea. Over the coming years, we plan to build this event into one of the top weekends of international racing in Asia.”

As the latest incarnation of the already established Asia Challenge Cup, the Sprint is included in Part II this year, while the Cup, despite being of greater value is not (and the current exchange rate has unfortunately meant it won’t be quite worth US$1M).  However, both races look set to be very competitive and could be the start of something very exciting.

The same weekend also sees the running of exchange races at Seoul with the Hong Kong Jockey Club, Singapore Turf Club and Horse Racing Ireland as well as the official  unveiling of the new 120 metre long “multi-vision” screen and the opening of the infield “horse experience” theme park.

Key Dates in the build up to the race are as follows:

Friday August 12: Preliminary Nominations close
Friday August 26: 1st/Entry/Nomination
Wednesday August 31: Overseas horses expected to begin arriving in Korea
Friday September 2: Late Entry/Nomination
Thursday September 8: Declarations/Barrier Draw
Sunday September 11: Race Day

The Korean Horse That Gets Everywhere: Sgt. Reckless Awarded UK’s Dickin Medal

Late last Wednesday afternoon I arrived into London’s Liverpool Street Station and noticing that the Evening Standard is now free, picked up a copy as I headed off into the bustle for an exciting evening in the Greatest City on Earth (ok, to eat Marks & Spencer sandwiches and drink cheap wine in an overpriced hotel room in the Greatest City on Earth).

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London Evening Standard – July 27th, 2016

On the second bottle glass of Prosecco and having established there is still nothing on British TV, I opened the Standard and was mildly surprised to see on page 8 the familiar black and white picture of the Korean warhorse Sgt. Reckless coming under fire in battle. It turned out that that very morning at the Korean War Memorial in London’s Victoria Embankment Gardens, Sgt. Reckless had been posthumously (she died more than 50 years ago) awarded the Dickin Medal, which is Britain’s highest honour for an animal who has served in conflict – the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross.

Her story has been told many times before, including on this site but over the past few years, it’s been told most prominently by American writer Robin Hutton, who set up the website Sgt.Reckless.com and in 2014 published a book about the horse, which reached the New York Times Bestsellers list for its category. The Dickin Medal sounded like it would have the hand of Hutton behind it so I messaged to inquire: “Yes! I was there” came the answer “HRH Princess Alexandra presented the Dickin to the Marine Corps. attache and then a smaller one for me. It was awesome!”

Awesome is one way to describe Hutton’s dedication to this horse. A few years ago I corresponded with her during the preparation of her book and met her briefly in Seoul earlier this year. Hutton was in Korea with sculptor Jocelyn Russell, with whom she had worked to create a monument to Sgt. Reckless at the National Museum of the Marine Corps. in Quantico, Virginia. A similar monument is to be installed in the Korean county of Yeoncheon – site of the Battle for Outpost Vegas and close to the present day DMZ – and the pair had traveled to view the site and participate in a number of other Marine Corps. veterans’ functions across the peninsula and on Jeju Island. They also visited the current Seoul Racecourse – complete with its own Sgt. Reckless tribute – and also the site of the former Sinseol-dong track in downtown Seoul.

The story of Sgt. Reckless is a very American one and as such was barely known in Korea until recently. Hutton’s passion and energy for her cause has begun to change that and “Achimhai” as she was supposedly called in Korean, is gradually seeping into the public consciousness here. While that’s especially true in the small towns near the battlefields where her exploits took place – and where savvy entrepreneurs have naturally been quick to try to cash in – she’s also making more general headway. A children’s book was published (albeit one that bears little relation to the actual story) and the Korea Racing Authority runs an annual “Achimhai Memorial” race on the weekend closest to the anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War. A number of mainstream Korean language news outlets also covered the Quantico memorial unveiling.

The Korean media has picked up on the Dickin Medal award too (Korean) and the Sgt. Reckless story will be sure to get more coverage here when the Yeoncheon memorial is dedicated. The story would, of course, make for a good film and given the current success of domestic Korean War movie “Operation Chromite”, perhaps that is not too far away either.

At the ceremony in London for Sgt. Reckless, the medal itself was worn by Somme, a horse from the King’s Troop mounted artillery. In addition to the London Evening Standard, numerous media covered the award, including the BBCABC News and Horse & Hound.