Month: September 2016

Busan Friday: Race-By-Race Preview (September 30)

There’s a big weekend of racing coming up. On Sunday at Busan, Macheon Bolt, 2nd in the Korea Sprint earlier this month returns to action while at Seoul, Oaks winner Ottug Ottugi heads a strong line-up for the Jeju Governor’s Cup

We start on Friday at Busan though with ten races from 14:20 to 21:00. English race cards are here. Race-by-race notes (races 1-8) are below:


Rating Top five official rated
Fast Starters Expected to lead the race early
Start-200M Fastest Average time for the first 200M (up to 6 most recent races)
200M-Finish Fastest average time for the final 200M (up to 6 most recent races)

Race 1: Class 6 / 1000M / Allowance / KRW 55 Million / 14:20 

2nd on debut on September 2nd, having led for much of the way and just beaten half a length on the line when odds-on favourite, (9) QUEEN’S QUEEN is favoured to go one better today. (4) FOUR NINES was 5th in that race and he too will be fancied to improve on that here but the main danger is likely to be debut-maker (6) EOREUM GONGJU, She won her trial in sharp fashion earlier this month and looks a good prospect. Peter Wolsley has done well with his two-year-old debut makers so far this autumn and (7) BULKKOT NORI could be another while (10) B.K. SAY was a promising 4th on debut a month ago and can match or better here.

Selections (9) Queen’s Queen (7) Bulkkot Nori (6) Eoreum Gongju (4) Four Nines
Next Best 7, 11
Fast Starters 1, 3, 5, 6, 11
Start-200M 5, 9, 11, 10, 4
200M-Finish 4, 9, 10, 5, 11

Race 2: Class 6 / 1000M / Allowance / KRW 20 Million / 14:45 

(1) BADA BULPAE and (3) CHARTERED DREAM both come in having recorded their best finishes to date last time out and are top picks here. Bada Bulpae returns after almost three months off and with Chartered Dream having beaten a couple of their rivals last month, it is the latter who is slightly favoured. Not many stand out among the rest with (2) SEONGGONG PLAN and (7) SUPER SONIC having shown glimpses and (8) NAMBANG JEONSEOL, whose only previous start was all the way back last December, having looked in shape in a trial last month.

Selections (3) Chartered Dream (1) Bada Bulpae (8) Nambang Jeonseol (7) Super Sonic
Next Best 2, 5, 4
Fast Starters 1, 3, 12
Start-200M 12, 3, 1, 2, 4
200M-Finish 2, 3, 8, 9, 12

Race 3: Class 6 / 1300M / Allowance / KRW 40 Million / 15:30 

Fillies only here and (10) CHOEGANG DRIVER steps up in distance for the first time following an improved 3rd place on what was her third start three weeks ago. She can improve here once more. (1) LADY LUCK has come close in each of her last three and can be competitive again while (4) QUEEN MEDIA was 3rd on debut last month and has little to fear in this company. Main danger to all those will be (6) RAPA CHUKJE, beaten by Lady Luck last time out back in July but performed well in a trial last week.

Selections (10) Choegang Driver (4) Queen Media (1) Lady Luck (6) Rapa Chukje
Next Best 3, 9
Fast Starters 2, 7
Start-200M 2, 7, 10, 4, 3
200M-Finish 10, 4, 1, 8, 9

Race 4: Class 6 / 1300M / Allowance / KRW 20 Million / 16:15 

Small field for the final maiden race and it looks to be between two. (8) HAENGBOKAN JILJU was a much improved 2nd when stepped up to this distance at the start of this month and looks set to battle it out with (4) DESTINY, who dead-heated for 4th last time out behind some decent ones and may look to lead here. They really should fill the 1-2 with (1) KNIGHT KING and (5) BIG GOLD perhaps the best of an indifferent rest.

Selections (4) Destiny (8) Haengbokan Jilju (1) Knight King (5) Big Gold
Next Best 3
Fast Starters 4, 5
Start-200M 5, 4, 6, 2, 8
200M-Finish 8, 3, 5, 4, 1

Race 5: Class 5 / 1200M / Handicap / KRW 40 Million / 17:00 

(8) ADELE STAR was a winner on debut two months ago and he finally returns, up in class and distance, for his second outing here. He should be able to cope with it; he made all last time and can do the same here. It won’t be easy though. (9) MORNING PARK is also up in class and distance following his own maiden win at the beginning of this month while Thomas Gillespie’s (2) ACE GLORY made his breakthrough at this class and distance at the end of last month and could well repeat. (12) COT WING is yet to win in eleven but remarkably has never finished worse than 5th and can maintain that here while (10) MINIME, poor last time, is capable of the money in this company.

Selections (8) Adele Star (2) Ace Glory (12) Cot Wing (9) Morning Park
Next Best 10, 7, 4
Rating 2, 12, 8, 9, 5
Fast Starters 8, 9, 11
Start-200M 8, 9, 11, 2, 10
200M-Finish 8, 9, 2, 6, 7

Race 6: Class 5 / 1300M / Handicap / KRW 40 Million / 17:50 

Just fillies (and one mare) here. (4) DAESTAR, a winner on debut, was 3rd on her first try at class and distance in a similar race to this earlier this month, finishing strongly. An apprentice jockey takes some weight off today and she can win. (5) NAMYANG TOWER and (6) BEATBOX are both up in class following maiden wins with the former looking the more likely to make an impact here while (8) CHALLANHAN ACE is proven to be capable of winning money at this level and could well get an easy lead here. If she does, she could stay on all the way. (2) ENTER WAY QUEEN is yet to win but should be competitive while the very experienced (10) SAMDA GONGJU looks best of the rest.

Selections (4) Daestar (8) Challanhan Ace (5) Namyang Tower (2) Enter Way Queen
Next Best 10, 6, 12, 9
Rating 7, 8, 4, 10, 12
Fast Starters 8, 12
Start-200M 8, 5, 12, 6, 1
200M-Finish 4, 5, 9, 12, 11

Race 7: Class 4 / 1200M / Handicap / KRW 55 Million / 18:30

Kim Young Kwan’s (6) DIVINE TOUCH comes in after back to back 2nd place finishes and looks ready to win on what will be his fourth career outing. He’ll be on speed early and can make all. This race is open to overseas-bred horses but Korean-bred (2) YEONGWON CHUKJE could be the main danger, having scored a couple of narrow 2nd places at domestic class 5 in recent outings. (4) TAEGWON CHAMP is yet to win in sixteen attempts at this level but is always competitive and will be again while (1) LION PARK and (9) SAEBYEOK BADA look best of the rest.

Selections (6) Divine Touch (2) Yeongwon Chukje (4) Taegwon Champ (1) Lion Park
Next Best 9, 12, 11
Rating 6=7, 1, 12, 4
Fast Starters 1, 6
Start-200M 6, 1, 8, 9, 12
200M-Finish 3, 4, 9, 6, 12

Race 8: Class 4 / 1400M / Handicap / KRW 55 Million / 19:35

Open race to conclude with and following back to back 2nd place finishes at 1300M, (5) OCEAN LINE, just beaten a nose last time, can go one better here, coming from just off the pace. Up in class following his second win in six outings, Korean Derby also-ran (3) SEUNGNIUI CHUKJE looks a danger as does the similarly up in class (9) SUPER BLADE. (10) HWANHUIUI BYEOL will be on speed early and can stay on while (4) INDIAN PARK looks best of the rest.

Selections (5) Ocean Line (3) Seungniui Chukje (9) Super Blade (4) Indian Park
Next Best 10, 2
Rating 4, 6=10, 5, 2
Fast Starters 2, 4, 10
Start-200M 10, 4, 3=9=2
200M-Finish 9=5, 7=10, 1

Colonel John Headed to Korea

It’s been reported in the US this morning that Colonel John is to be the latest addition to the Stallion ranks in Korea. He’s been purchased by the Korean Thoroughbred Breeders Association and will stand in 2017 on Jeju Island.

Colonel John [Tiznow – Sweet Damsel (Turkoman)] won the Santa Anita Derby and the Travers Stakes in 2008 and had been standing for $7,500 at WinStar Farm. He currently lies in 33rd place on the Leading sire list for 2016.

Colonel John has had a number of his progeny run in Korea with the most successful of them having being imported in-utero.

His four-year-old filly Queen’s Champion and three-year-old gelding Baekdu are both prolific winners who have made it up to class 1 level at Seoul while his gelding Call Me Rocket won six of his twelve starts in a seven-month period in 2013 before having to be retired with an injury (he is now a riding horse at Haenam Equestrian Club).

The 11-year-old will enter quarantine shortly. He’ll be an interesting addition.

Busan Friday: Race-By-Race Preview (September 23)

Horse racing in Korea gets back to business this weekend. Busan gets things going on Friday with an 11-race card from 14:20 to 21:00, Seoul goes on Saturday with a card running from 14:00 to 21:00 while both tracks operate daytime racing on Sunday.


Paolo Aragoni was 3rd in the korea Cup on Triple Nine – he returns to busan on friday (Pic: Ross Holburt)


English racecards are here. Nores on Friday’s races 1-9 are below:

Race 1: Class 6 / 1000M / Allowance / KRW 55 Million / 13:20 (SIN)

Only one of these has raced before, (6) BEONGGEULBEONGGEUL. She was 3rd on debut last month and can go on here. She probably won’t be favourite though as two of the debut-makers, (3) I’M ADELE and (7) TWO TWO RAPTOR, won their trials, with the latter looking especially impressive in the process. Peter Wolsley’s (10) SECRET MARINE showed promise in their own trials as did (1) KEUN MABEOP and (11) HWARANGUI HUYE. (5) CAPTAIN BLADE is from Korea’s top stable and is sure to well-backed also.

Selections (6) Beonggeulbeonggeul (7) Two Two Raptor (10) Secret Marine (3) I’m Adele
Next Best 1, 11, 5, 8
Outsiders 2, 4, 9, 12
Fast Starters 1, 3, 11

Race 2: Class 6 / 1300M / Allowance / KRW 40 Million / 13:45 (SIN)

Maiden fillies (and one mare) here and top trainer Kim Young Kwan’s (11) PINK BLADE is favourite to score after an encouraging enough 3rd place on debut on August 26th. She beat (7) RECHAE into 4th that day and Rechae too can go close again. (5) SWEET WHY was an improved 3rd at this distance just two weeks ago and can be considered while (8) NIPSYS should have come on from their debuts. The more experienced (9) PALMYRA is the wildcard while even (10) IGIPPEUM GEUDAERO, winless in 35 outings, can find the minor money.

Selections (11) Pink Blade (7) Rechae (5) Sweet Why (8) Nipsys
Next Best 9, 10, 6, 3, 4
Outsiders 1, 2, 12
Fast Starters 1, 5, 6, 9

Race 3: Class 6 / 1200M / Allowance / KRW 20 Million / 14:10 (SIN)

Another maiden race and (8) CHOEGANG OFFICER and (10) PARK MAN both try further than the minimum distance for the first time. It should suit both but while the former will be on speed early, the latter can finish quickly and is strongly favoured to prevail here. (9) MAGIC WINNER beat two of these when recording his best finish to date three weeks ago and will be at much shorter odds today. (1) SUPER WINGS was much improved when dropped back in trip to 1000M last time but can be given another chance here while (3) HAPPY LIGHT and (4) SAMHYEONGJE are others to consider.

Selections (10) Park Man (8) Choegang Officer (9) Magic Winner (1) Super Wings
Next Best 3, 4, 5, 2, 13
Outsiders 6, 7, 11, 12, 14
Fast Starters 4, 8, 14

Race 4: Class 6 / 1300M / Allowance / KRW 40 Million / 14:55 (SIN)

The last of the maiden races. (10) INDIAN KING disappointed when well fancied on debut but showed plenty of improvement at the end of August when running 2nd. The step up in trip today may be exactly what he needs. He’ll want to be on speed early as will (14) MAJOR DANCER, also a much improved 3rd last start and with potential to go on. (3) TAEGWON MISO, (4) ROAD TO SUCCESS and (7) PUREUN GANGJA are all capable of placing at this level. While the only debut-maker, Peter Wolsley’s (9) ROYAL RUBY can also be considered first up following a good trial.

Selections (10) Indian King (14) Major Dancer (9) Royal Ruby (3) Taegwon Miso
Next Best 4, 7, 11, 1, 12
Outsiders 2, 5, 6, 8, 13
Fast Starters 10, 14

Race 5: Class 4 / 1400M / Handicap / KRW 55 Million / 15:40 (SIN)

(11) I’M YOUR FATHER beat some decent horses when winning on debut last month and can follow up here. Should thrive with an extra furlong. Thomas Gillespie’s (4) ACE SINHWA has come close in recent starts and looks nicely in here under an apprentice jockey. (1) JUNGANG DAERO is up in class following two wins from his last three and can be competitive while (5) PAMAPAS FARM and (7) ARION METAL are both yet to score but are capable of moneying in this company.

Selections (11) I’m Your Father (4) Ace Sinhwa (1) Jungang Daero (7) Arion Metal
Next Best 5, 3, 8
Outsiders 2, 6, 9, 10
Fast Starters 10, 11

Race 6: Class 5 / 1000M / Handicap / KRW 40 Million / 16:25 (SIN)

(6) RACHEL made all to win on debut at this distance last month. She’s up in class today but Bart Rice’s filly is favoured to repeat. (11) YUSEONGCHEOREOM was also a debut winner but could only manage 4th on his first try at this level in August. Dropped back to 1000M today, he should be closer. Yuseongcheoreom did manage to beat (3) MACHEON CHIRON last time and she too should see improvement back at the minimum today. (4) MISS CANBERRA and the up in class (8) HUIMANG CHANGA are others with claims.

Selections (6) Rachel (11) Yuseongcheoreom (3) Macheon Chiron (4) Miss Canberra
Next Best 8, 2, 1, 7, 5
Outsiders 9, 10, 12
Fast Starters 1, 3, 6, 11

Race 7: Class 5 / 1200M / Handicap / KRW 40 Million / 17:05 (SIN)

A four-length winner on debut, (1) SINUIPUMGYEOK is up in class and distance but should surely have too much for this field. (11) SHINE STAR was an even more ye-catching winner on his debut in July and followed up with a 3rd place at this level on August 26th and looks the main danger. (14) WHITTE QUEENS closed strongly for 2nd last start at class and distance and will want to be closer to the speed today while (2) YAKSOKUI SIGAN and (7) REALLY ONE look best of the rest.

Selections (1) Sinuipumgyeok (11) Shine Star (14) Whitte Queens (7) Really One
Next Best 2, 4, 5, 12, 9
Outsiders 3, 6, 8, 10, 13
Fast Starters 1, 7, 8, 14

Race 8: Class 5 / 1300M / Handicap / KRW 40 Million / 17:45 (SIN)

Competitive race and while (10) TEXAS RUSH is yet to score in eight, she’s come close and we’ll go with her to come from just off the pace to finally get it right today. (2) DAEJIUI HUIMANG beat Texas Rush last time and should be competitive again. She’ll look to lead early along with (3) DANCING STAR and (14) FOCUS LINE, both of whom can stay on. A danger from the back is (5) BIGBANG BID. He’s closed strongly to get a win and a 2nd place from his last two outings and can go well again here.

Selections (10) Texas Rush (2) Daejiui Huimang (5) Bigbang Bid (3) Dancing Star
Next Best 14, 8, 4, 6, 12
Outsiders 1, 7, 9, 11, 13
Fast Starters 2, 3, 9, 14

Race 9: Class 3 / 1400M / Handicap / KRW 72 Million / 18:35 (SIN)

(13) GABOGAPJJANG and (3) LET’S WIN are both up in class having finished 1st and 2nd racing over 1200M at the end of last month; the time before they were 2nd and 3rd. They both look nicely in here with GABOGAPJJANG favoured once more. (2) SUPER CHEOLIN is two starts in a comeback following a lengthy spell and looks to be coming back into form while (11) SOUL BLADE and the up in class pair of (4) GANGJA BONSAEK and (9) JILJUUI SIN should be capable of going close.

Selections (13) Let’s Win (2) Super Cheolin (3) Let’s Win (11) Soul Blade
Next Best 4, 9, 10, 5, 1, 12
Outsiders 6, 7, 8, 14
Fast Starters 5, 7, 11, 12

Attendance, Turnover & Coverage Among Positives To Emerge From Korea Cup

The Korean racing community has returned from the long”Chuseok” holiday and racing is set to resume on the peninsula on Friday  for the first time since the inaugural Keeneland Korea Cup and Sprint the weekend before last.


Chrysolite romps home in the Keeneland Korea Cup (Pic: Ross Holburt)

And it means the review of the weekend will now begin in earnest. Turnover held up remarkably well. It is very difficult for punters to handicap races such as the Sprint and the Cup with any degree of confidence given the wide range of backgrounds, surfaces and environments the horses’ past performances have taken place in. Yet they still put 4.3 Billion (US$3.9Million) and 4.8 Billion (US$4.3Million) Korean won through the windows in the Sprint and Cup respectively.

That was up on the corresponding races 8 and 10 from the prior week and indeed turnover on the whole day of 71.1 Billion Korean Won was also up on recent Sundays (67.8 Billion Won the previous week). In terms of attendance, 44,691 people came to Seoul Racecourse on Cup day compared with 38,130 the prior Sunday and just 33,941 the Sunday before that. A total of 124,986 people were either on course or in OTBs last Sunday.

Now the Cup was by no means the only reason for this. With the Chuseok holiday approaching many punters would have been in attendance knowing that a dark week was approaching.

The experience in Hong Kong over the past decade has been that domestic turnover on its international races is lower than that of normal races. The gap is narrowing which the Hong Kong Jockey Club attributes to local punters becoming more familiar with international racing through their inbound simulcasts and the HKJC looks on all three of turnover, attendance and brand exposure as being important.

Brand exposure was something there was plenty of last week, including in Hong Kong, where local punters were able to cash tickets on Super Jockey winning the Sprint. Six countries took the races live with others showing it on delay. KBS Sports, one of Korea’s major Sports channels devoted two hours to the races the following day. That’s in addition to the write-ups the races received around the world.

One reason why “internationalization” is so difficult is that results can’t be seen either quickly or – and this is a key one – expressed numerically in a way that makes it easy to measure progress or success. While some in KRA will probably feel that the investment made in the weekend (and it was not insubstantial) should have been reflected by a proportional increase at the betting windows, that doesn’t really tell the the whole story.

Having followed racing in this country for almost ten years now, last weekend was something I didn’t think I would be seeing in Korea for a very long time – if ever. Now is the time to build on it.

Horses Return Home Following Korea Cup & Sprint

On Wednesday, the final overseas-trained horses left Seoul Racecourse to return to their respective homes across the globe, bringing the final curtain down on the inaugural running of the Keeneland Korea Cup & Sprint. 


Super Jockey & Karis Teeton ease to victory in the Sprint (Pic: Ross Holburt for KRA)

It’s been a welcome novelty for Korean racing to be so widely reported elsewhere so we’ll not run through the results again. Super Jockey’s effortless win in the Sprint was the highlight with a real international quality horse putting in an international quality performance in a race which would have pleased the Hong Kong punters who made him favourite in the Jockey Club pools despite him gong off the $8.50 third choice in Korea.


Teeton & Super Jockey return to scale (Pic: Ross Holburt for KRA)

There was a huge performance too in the Sprint by Macheon Bolt. The Peter Wolsley trained gelding flew home for 2nd under Lee Hee Cheon and should connections so desire, has to be a strong candidate for Korea’s representative in the Japan-Korea Sprint at Ohi in November or for the Dubai World Cup Carnival early next year. Wild Dude and Super Winner, favourite and 2nd-favourite respectively, struggled but Korea’a pre-race big hope, Perdido Pomeroy, came home a decent 4th having been on speed most of the way around.


Team Hong Kong

The Cup was a slightly strange affair. After early pace-setter Beolmaui Kkum faded even earlier than expected, the two Japanese horses simply ran away from the field. Chrysolite, a quality horse, was the easy winner ahead of Kurino Star O. Three seconds and 16-lengths behind the winner, Triple Nine got up for 3rd ahead of stablemate and Korean Triple Crown winner Power Blade. Despite the margin of victory, the time was still outside Power Blade’s track record on a wet track in the Korean Derby earlier this year.


Chrysolite & Joe Fujii returning to scale (Pic: Ross Holburt for KRA)

Famous Mark, for France, got up for an excellent 5th place but the UK’s Solar Deity was slow out of the gate and came home in 10th place.


The Korea Cup held aloft 

Overall, it was an excellent weekend and we’ll have more on the follow-up over the next couple of weeks.

Sunday Seoul & Busan: Full Preview (September 11)

It’s Keeneland Korea Cup & Sprint Day at Seoul. There are 11 races in the capital from 10:50 to 18:00 while at Busan there are 5 races from 12:20 to 15:55. English race cards are here. Full race-by-race preview below:

Seoul Race 1: Class 6 / 1000M / Allowance / KRW 60 Million / 10:50

Djordje Perovic picked up where he left off last week on his return to Korea after three months away and he can strike quickly with (2) EORIN WANGJA here. The colt was an improved 3rd on July 31st and can go even better today. First timers (8) HAENGUN MONEY and (10) RAON KINGDOM looked good in trials and can compete while (4) GOLDSTAR HILLS and (6) SIMCHEONG SADAL also look to have promise.

Selections (2) Eorin Wangja (8) Haengun Money (10) Raon Kingdom (4) Goldstar Hills
Next Best 6, 5, 11, 12
Outsiders 1, 3, 7, 9,
Fast Starters 2, 6, 10

Seoul Race 2: Class 6 / 1300M / Allowance / KRW 40 Million / 11:15

2nd on debut three weeks ago, (5) SAGYEJEOL is strongly favoured to go one better today. She should lead from the gate and should have too much. (4) GEUMA BENIR has come close in recent starts and should be placing as should (7) FULL GAIN, an improved 3rd last start. (8) EUNBIT NARAE was beaten three lengths by Sagyejeol in that August 20th race but can beat some of these today.

Selections (5) Sagyejeol (4) Geuma Benir (7) Full Gain (8) Eunbit Narae
Next Best 6, 1, 3, 2
Fast Starters 1, 5

Seoul Race 3: Class 5 / 1000M / Handicap / KRW 40 Million / 11:40

Brian Dean’s (2) JUNGL DRUMMER won on debut in May and looks ready to win again having flown through a trial last week under today’s jockey Jo Sung Gon. He’s the one to beat. (5) RUNNER QUEEN and (6) SERA KING look to be the main dangers having run 4th and 3rd respectively in a good race at this distance a month ago. (3) DEOKSUNG ILHO, up in class following her maiden win, and (7) STORM RYKER are others in the hunt.

Selections (2) Jungl Drummer (6) Sera King (5) Runner Queen (7) Storm Ryker
Next Best 3, 8
Outsiders 1, 4, 9, 10
Fast Starters 3, 5, 6

Seoul Race 4: Class 5 / 1300M / Handicap / KRW 40 Million / 13:00

Full field in this all-filly race but probably the banker favourite of the day. That’s (11) HYESEONG YEOWANG, up in class after a facile 9-length win over the minimum on August 21st. This is her first time going further than 1000M but she should have too much. Also up in class is (5) EVA ROAD and she can be considered once more while (6) DIXIE SMILE and (10) SOKDO SHINHWA are both experienced money winners – if not actual winners – at this level. Yet to win at all is (12) MAMBO CHEONHA but she’s finished no worse than 3rd in her last six outings and could maintain that today.

Selections (11) Hyeseong Yeowang (6) Dixie Smile (12) Mambo Cheonha (10) Sokdo Shinhwa
Next Best 5, 3, 9, 1, 2, 7
Outsiders 4, 8, 13, 14
Fast Starters 8, 9, 11

Seoul Race 5: Class 5 / 1300M / Handicap / KRW 40 Million / 13:45

(9) ULTRA ROCKET landed his maiden win at class and distance three weeks ago, he’ll be on speed early here and there’s no reason why he can’t make it two in a row. In this company (4) HIGH VET and (11) DANGCHANBISANG can improve, likewise the modestly named (3) BORN WINNER, who struggled on his first try at this level last month but has the services of Djordje Perovic aboard today. (7) HAPJAKPUM looks best of the rest.

Selections (9) Ultra Rocket (11) Dangchanbisang (4) High Vet (3) Born Winner
Next Best 7, 5, 8, 10, 1
Outsiders 2, 6, 12
Fast Starters 5, 9, 11

Seoul Race 6: Class 4 / 1200M / Handicap / KRW 60 Million / 14:35

Plenty of unraced imports go here but it’s a Korean-bred who is likely to be favourite. (11) ATHENA THUNDER is two for two and is therefore up in class. He could be craftily entered to maintain his 1000% record although he is tried at further than the minimum distance for the first time. Main danger and almost certain to be 2nd favourite is (9) SPIRIT OF HANSEN. He’s been 2nd in both starts to date and surely has a win in him soon. (2) MEGA IMPACT resumes nine weeks after scoring his maiden win in a similar race to this at 1000M and can be considered while (14) GANGTA beat (1) SMOKEY VALE on what was the latter’s debut last month and both can be considered here.

Selections (11) Athena Thunder (9) Spirit Of Hansen (14) Gangta (2) Mega Impact
Next Best 1, 3, 6, 5, 12
Outsiders 4, 7, 8, 10, 13
Fast Starters 4, 5, 6, 11, 12

Seoul Race 7: Class 4 / 1300M / Handicap / KRW 60 Million / 15:25

Big and competitive field. (2) GEUMA ZEUS was a class and distance winner last start, closing strongly and while he carries more weight today, can be respected. Looking for a hat-trick of wins is (11) NABOM CASTLE. He races for the first time in three months and carries top weight but can be considered. He’ll try to lead, as will (6) HURI BARAM, who disappointed on his first try at this class last month, when beaten by (12) RULES, but gets another chance today under champion jockey Moon Se Young. Up in class (5) SUN MASTER and (8) ÉCLAIR HUMOR need to improve but can go well.

Selections (2) Geuma Zeus (6) Huri Baram (5) Sun Master (12) Rules
Next Best 8, 11, 4, 7, 1, 13
Outsiders 3, 9, 10, 14
Fast Starters 1, 4, 5, 6, 8

 Seoul Race 8: Class Open – The Keeneland Korea Sprint (KOR G1) / 1200M / Weight for Age / KRW 700 Million / 16:25

FULL PREVIEW. The first of two international races on the card and Singapore’s (9) SUPER WINNER, in sparking form at Kranji over the summer has settled into Seoul Racecourse well, has drawn adequately if not ideally and is a serious contender for this big prize. He is likely to be the favourite. Main dangers look to be Hong Kong’s (2) SUPER JOCKEY, who has proven himself over similar surfaces in the past and US Group 1 winner (10) WILD DUDE. Among the Korean entries, (8) PERDIDO POMEROY is the pick with Oaks winner (7) OTTUG OTTUGI and last year’s Asia Challenge Cup winner (when he beat El Padrino) (6) CHOEGANG SCHILLER, the wildcard.

Selections (2) Super Jockey (10) Wild Dude (9) Super Winner (8) Perdido Pomeroy
Next Best 7, 6, 13, 3, 1, 4, 14
Outsiders 5, 11, 12, 15, 16
Fast Starters 6, 7, 8, 13

Seoul Race 9: Class 3 / 1700M / Handicap / KRW 75 Million / 16:55

(1) SPACE SHUTTLE was overwhelmed in a couple of Stakes races earlier this year but can go well in this company and is one of a number of contenders here. (3) GAIA THUNDER comes in off back to back wins and tries this distance for the first time as does (11) CHOWONUI CHANGA. Both can be considered here as can (4) CHEONHABI, who made all to win at 1300M a month and is up in class here. (7) VALLEY STAR and (9) QUEEN HUDSON, both prior winners at the distance are the wildcard picks

Selections (3) Gaia Thunder (11) Chowonui Changa (4) Cheonhabi (1) Space Shuttle
Next Best 10, 8, 7, 9
Outsiders 2, 5, 6
Fast Starters 4, 10

Seoul Race 10: Class Open – The Keeneland Korea Cup (KOR G1) / 1800M / Weight for Age / KRW 1 Billion / 17:30

FULL PREVIEW. The second international race looks very competitive. Singapore’s (15) INFANTRY hasn’t drawn well but if he can find a decent position from the outside, he has every chance of going well having taken to the Seoul track a little better than the other Kranji raider (1) ORDER OF THE SUN. The Japanese pair of (3) CHRYSOLITE and (7) KURINO STAR O look the ones to beat with jockey Joe Fujii’s Seoul experience perhaps being a crucial factor on the former. UK all-weather specialist (8) SOLAR DEITY and French visitor (2) FAMOUS MARK provide intrigue. There could be a Korean winner. Triple Crown winner (16) POWER BLADE has had a long season but home fans will be hoping for a solid performance from him and stablemate (13) TRIPLE NINE. However, it may be that (5) BEOLMAUI KKUM is the most dangerous member of the home team.

Selections (3) Chrysolite (5) Beolmaui Kkum (16) Power Blade (15) Infantry
Next Best 7, 13, 1, 8, 2, 10, 4
Outsiders 6, 9, 11, 12, 14
Fast Starters 5, 9, 12

Seoul Race 11: Class 1 / 1400M / Handicap / KRW 110 Million / 18:00

(5) GOREOUS DREAM didn’t get into the Korea Sprint so instead he tries class 1 for the first time here. He also stretches out to 1400M which may be more of a concern that the step up in class but if he does handle the distance, he should win. (3) ALWAYS WINNER also steps up to class 1. He wan the JRA Trophy at this distan ce in June before struggling at Kranji the following month. Back at Seoul, he should be dangerous. The two “suns” (11) SUN SHOT and (14) SUN BURSTER look best of the rest.

Selections (5) Goreous Dream (3) Always Winner (11) Sun Shot (14) Sun Burster
Next Best 7, 6, 10, 9, 1, 13
Outsiders 2, 4, 8, 12
Fast Starters 3, 4, 5, 10

Korea Cup: Final Preview

It’s time. The Keeneland Korea Cup and Sprint are upon us. I went into detail about the Korea Sprint at the Hong Kong Jockey Club website so we’ll focus on the Cup here.


A quick word on the Sprint though, I’m going to stick with Super Jockey although Super Winner will almost certainly begin as favourite and deservedly so on recent form. Wild Dude looks very dangerous. As hoped for, it’s a really open race which any number could win. As indeed is the Cup. Let’s get into it.

First off, the draw. At first glance, (16) POWER BLADE and (15) INFANTRY were the big losers. Jockey Kim Yong Geun’s theatrics at the barrier draw certainly suggested that, however, while nobody would have chosen gate 16, Power Blade began the Cup Mile from gate 10 and the Derby from gate 12. There are other reasons why it may be tough for Power Blade, which we will return to. As for Infantry, he can overcome it and having adapted to the sand reasonably well, is one of the main contenders.

The Japanese pair of (3) CHRYSOLITE and and (7) KURINO STAR O do look very dangerous. The track should hold no concerns for them and the draw has been very kind. With Joe Fujii on board, it is possible that Korean punters may make Chrysolite the favourite. He should settle reasonably handy and has a great chance.

(1) ORDER OF THE SUN is a capable sort but he was well-beaten by Infantry over a mile in July and that, combined with concerns on the sand, will make him less fancied that his fellow Singapore raider. Representing the UAE is (6) NEED TO KNOW. It’s not the racing season there right now so he hasn’t raced since April. Even with Tadhg O’Shea on board, this is a tough ask.

Europe is represented by Jane Chapple-Hyam’s (8) SOLAR DEITY. He’s an all-weather specialist who can’t be judged on his recent turf form (he’s been racing in very strong company) and while he won’t be among the favourites, a strong performance is possible under Darryll Holland, who rode this track when based in Korea at Busan. Moroccan bred (2) FAMOUS MARK represents France. He is another who hasn’t found it easy on the turf but was 3rd in a Listed race on dirt in Sweden in May and is another with a good draw today.

As for the Korean horses, Power Blade does have to catch the eye as we don’t really know how good he is yet. He won the Triple Crown without being seriously tested but this is a challenge of a whole different order and while he has only raced four times this year, can he be in peak condition once again? One hopes so but while a sizable minority in the Korean racing media have him to win, a top five finish would be creditable. That’s true too for stablemate (13) TRIPLE NINE, winner of last month’s Owner’s Cup over a mile.

Perhaps the most likely of the Korea-trained contingent is (5) BEOLMAUI KKUM. He made all to beat Triple Nine by five lengths in the Busan Mayor’s Cup in July, finally taking out a big race. Some observers argue that he is one of the most gifted horses to ever run in Korea but suffered from overwork in his early career. At 6, he now looks to be at his best and if he runs at it on Sunday, he could even win. He will almost certainly look to lead from gate-to wire.

Joining Beolmaui Kkum on the early speed will be (12) SAENGIL GIPPEUM and possibly (9) GUMPO SKY. Both are more than capable at this distance but staying on in this company will be tough. (11) DYNAMIC DASH has just been found a little wanting in good domestic company in his last couple of starts while Seoul-based (14) DYNAMIC JILJU hasn’t really faced much in the way of quality opposition. (4) MIRAE YEONGUNG and (10) WONDER BOLT are likely to be slower away. Both have strong finishes and are capable of picking off a few in the closing stages.

Fingers crossed for a good and safe race.

Selections: (3) Chrysolite (15) Infantry (5) Beolmaui Kkum (7) Kurino Star O (16) Power Blade

International Meeting Day 1: Lee Shin Young Trains STC and HKJC Trophy winners

Saturday saw day 1 of the Korea Cup meeting and there were several Trophy Exchange races throughout the day:


Raon Amos won the Singapore Turf Club Trophy (Pic: Ross Holburt for KRA)

Trainer Lee Shin Young sent out the winners of both the Singapore Turf Club Trophy and the Hong Kong Jockey Club Trophy. Raon Amos took the STC while Gray Socks was the winner of a messy event for 2-year-olds in the HKJC.


Gray Socks and Moon Se Young return to scale having won the inaugural HKJC Trophy (Pic: Ross Holburt for KRA)


HKJC Trophy ceremony (Pic: Ross Holburt for KRA)

Moon Se Young also won a race in a mini-jockey challenge that was held involving some of the  jockeys who will ride in Sunday’s Korea Cup & Sprint. Abderahim Faddoul, representing France was the best visitors although he has to wear the British silk after the French one went missing:


Abderahim Faddoul received his trophy from Yangtae Park (Pic: Ross Holburt for KRA)

Earlier the Macau Jockey Club Trophy had been won by Ham Wan Sik on Dixie Ploit while later on, the Horse Racing Ireland Trophy ended with an easy win for Kim Hye Sun on Cheonji Storm:


A slightly awkward looking HRI Trophy presentation party (Pic: Ross Holburt for KRA)

On Sunday it’s the main events, the Keeneland Korea Cup & Korea Sprint.

Seoul Saturday: Race-By-Race Preview (September 10)

International weekend gets underway at Seoul Racecourse on Saturday and while the Cup and Sprint are tomorrow, there’s still plenty going on. There are four exchange “Trophy races” with the Macau Jockey Club, Singapore Turf Club, Hong Kong Jockey Club and Horse Racing Ireland as well as the official launch of the new 127 metre-long screen. In total there are 13 races from 14:00 to 21:00. English racecards here, brief notes on races 1-10 below:

Race 1: Class 6 / 1000M / Allowance / KRW 60 Million / 14:00 

Nine of the twelve debut here and trial “winner” (7) RAON QUANTUM is set to be the one to beat. He finished strongly in his trial, beating a couple who also debut here and should go well under the champion jockey. Among other debut makers, (6) MY VISION and (10) USEUNGUI CHUEOK caught the eye in trials, however the main danger is likely to be one of those with experience. (3) YEOKDAE CHOESANG was 3rd on debut at the end of July and can have come on for that.

Selections (7) Raon Quantum (3) Yeokdae Choesang (6) My Vision (10) Useungui Chueok
Next Best 1, 8, 11, 4
Outsiders 2, 5, 9, 12
Fast Starters 6, 8, 9

Race 2: Class 6 / 1200M / Allowance / KRW 20 Million / 14:45 

Big field and despite a trainer/jockey combination that isn’t in form (3) RECONQUISTA has to be slight favourite here. He beat three of these when running 2nd a month ago at this distance and can go one better today. (11) CALL ME JK comes in following a career best 2nd the same day and can come close once more as can (14) GANGJASEUNG, who improved under an apprentice jockey last time out and has the same rider returning today. Brian Dean’s (2) CALEDONIA can also improve on his debut run behind Reconquista while (1) WON AGAIN – yet to win – is the other one to consider.

Selections (3) Reconquista (2) Caledonia (11) Call Me JK (14) Gangjaseung
Next Best 1, 8, 5, 10
Outsiders 4, 6, 7, 9, 12, 13
Fast Starters 5

Race 3: Class 6 / 1200M / Allowance / KRW 20 Million / 15:30 

Another full field and this race is part of a brief challenge for some of the jockeys in town for Sunday’s international races. The Koreans have got the best of the draw with (6) DARK AMBER likely to be disputing favourite status with (10) MONDAY MONEY. Both look ready to win. (9) MENI VET has come close on each of her last four outings and should do so again while among the foreign riders, Abderahim Faddoul has perhaps the best draw with (7) YESANGBAEK SEUNG. Also in with a shout is (5) IBAEGJEOM.

Selections (6) Dark Amber (10) Monday Money (9) Menu Vet (7) Yesangbaek Seung
Next Best 5, 4, 14, 8, 3, 13
Outsiders 1, 2, 11, 12
Fast Starters 7, 9, 10, 12

Race 4: Class 4 / 1700M / Handicap / KRW 60 Million / 16:15 

The first of the trophy races so a big prize on offer here. (4) GWANGYANG DOLPUNG Is favourite to land it having been a close 2nd his first try at class and distance last month. He’ll settle handy and could have too much late on. (7) SUBAEKHYANG and (2) DIXIE PLOIT come in having run 2nd and 3rd respectively at this distance on August 20th and will be competitive again while (5) RAON NARA and (8) DEVIL MAN are both up in class and nicely in here.

Selections (4) GWangyang Dolpung (2) Dixie Ploit (7) Subaekhyang (5) Raon Nara
Next Best  
Fast Starters  

Race 5: Class Open – The Singapore Turf Club Trophy / 1400M / KRW 150 Million / 16:45

Some of the visiting jockeys return here for this filly-only trophy race although again it’s a local who has the best of the draw with Kim Yong Geun pulling out (9) RAON AMOS. The filly has won her last four with varying degrees of ease and while she faces a stiffer test here, she should be on speed early and can win again. (7) BLAZING STAR gives Tadgh O’Shea an opportunity to show what he can do; the 3-year-old won three in a row between April and June and should also be on speed here. (4) OUR CAT, (5) REWARD HIGH and (8) JEWELRY PARK look best of the rest in a nicely competitive race.

Selections (9) Raon Amos (7) Blazing Star (8) Jewelry Park (5) Reward High
Next Best 4, 2
Outsiders 1, 3, 6
Fast Starters 4, 7, 9

Race 6: Class Open Allowance / 1200M / Allowance / KRW 200 Million / 17:15 

The inaugural Hong Kong Jockey Club Trophy is for 2-year-olds who passed through local sales and there’s a huge prize on offer. (10) ROCKET QUEEN didn’t impress on debut last month but went back to trail just last week and absolutely flew through and Brian Dean’s filly comes into contention as a result. (3) CLEAN UP SKY and (9) LEAD MONEY were perhaps the most impressive on their debuts with (2) PHILLANIKE and (8) NEW WHY FI also showing potential for improvement.

Selections (10) Rocket Queen (3) Clean Up Sky (9) Lead Money (2) Phillanike
Next Best 8, 11, 1, 5, 12
Outsiders 4, 6, 7
Fast Starters 3, 5, 9, 10

Race 7: Class Open / 2000M / Weight for Age / KRW 150 Million / 17:55 

(5) SUN STRONG and (1) GASOKBULPAE ran 1st and 2nd over this distance in the Sports Chosun Cup in June. While Sun Strong struggled on reappreance at class 1 in July and Gasokbulpae han’t raced since, both look strong here. Gasokbulpae will try to lead from gate to wire. (2) CHEONJI STORM was a good 2nd in the Ilgan Sports Cup at the end of July and should be competitive on his first try at this distance while (3) ROYAL VICTORY and (7) HOWIMUSA look best of the rest.

Selections (1) Gasokbulpae (5) Sun Strong (2) Cheonji Storm (7) Howimusa
Next Best 6, 3, 4
Fast Starters 1

Race 8: Class 5 / 1300M / Handicap / KRW 40 Million / 18:35 

Back to the big fields. (10) WANJEON MULGYEOL provided trainer Kim Dong Chul with his first ever winner last month and it is possible he could provide him with his 2nd here. It won’t be easy though. (13) HAPPIEST was beaten by Wanjeon Mulgyeol last time but should get closer today while (2) CUPID PARK and (4) GEUMBIT SONATA can both improve on slightly disappointing outings last time while (12) CHOWON BOLT can build on a 3rd and a 2nd in his last two starts. (6) GWACHEON WONDER is up in class following a 2nd place over this distance and while he is yet to win in ten attempts, he looks nicely in here.

Selections (6) Gwacheon Wonder (10) Wanjeon Mulgyeol (12) Chowon Bolt (2) Cupid Park
Next Best 13, 4, 1, 8, 5
Outsiders 3, 7, 9, 11
Fast Starters  

Race 9: Class 5 / 1300M / Handicap / KRW 40 Million / 19:00 

(10) SILLA HWARANG is up in class following his maiden win on his second start and he is favoured to keep improving her. He should come from just behind an early pace that could be set by (11) PINK STAR, who has just the one win in 25 races but has been coming close recently. (2) DRAGON SPEED comes in following an improved 3rd in July and then ten weeks off and can go well while (3) HWANHUIUISUNGAN and (8) HWANSANGUI DOYAK look best of the rest.

Selections (10) Silla Hwarang (11) Pink Star (2) Dragon Speed (3) Hwanhuiuisungan
Next Best 8, 7, 1
Outsiders 4, 5, 6, 9
Fast Starters 5, 6, 11

Race 10: Class 4 / 1300M / Handicap / KRW 60 Million / 19:25 

Two standouts here with (3) VIVA TRINITY a class and distance winner on August 20th. He carries more weight today but can follow up. (6) SEONGBULOREUM’s recent form is better than 6th and 5th from her last two suggest – both were tight and with more luck she could have got closer coming from off the pace. (7) PRO MATEUS is inconsistent but can improve here while (2) SHINE CLOVER and (12) INDIE RUNNER are others to take into account.

Selections (3) Viva Trinity (6) Seongbuloreum (12) Indie Runner (7) Pro Mateus
Next Best 2, 10, 5, 8
Outsiders 1, 4, 9, 11, 13, 14
Fast Starters

Korea Cup & Sprint Countdown: Numbers Drawn

The barrier draws for Sunday’s Keeneland Korea Cup and Sprint took place at a downtown Seoul hotel this morning. Each race features seven overseas-trained horses up against nine Korean-trained. We’ll have a full final preview of both races up on Saturday. For now, here are the fields (all pictures by Ross Holburt for KRA):



The Sprint will be simulcast live by the Hong Kong Jockey Club during Sunday afternoon’s Sha Tin meeting and Super Jockey, one of the favourites for the race, drew gate number 2.


Owner Tony Lau draws Super Jockey’s number (Pic: Ross Holburt for KRA)


Kim Yong Geun is less than amused at pulling gate 16 out for Power Blade in the Cup


Sprint connections


Cup connections


Team GB! (& Australia)