All fourteen overseas-trained horses who will participate in Sunday’s historic inaugural running of the Keeneland Korea Cup and Keeneland Korea Sprint have arrived at Seoul Racecourse.
Following the withdrawals of Hong Kong pair Gun Pit and Rich Tapestry from the Cup and the Sprint respectively, there are a total of seven overseas-trained horses set to go in each race (Full list of entries here). The arrivals began last Friday with horses from Japan and Singapore and concluded on Sunday evening when France-trained Famous Mark was the last to take up residence in the newly expanded international stables at Seoul Racecourse.
The horses have been working since arrival; very early in the mornings because of quarantine regulations – although on Tuesday they received a bit of a lie-in due to Korean horses at the track not working (Tuesday is traditionally a day-off in Korean racing and old habits die-hard – even with those due to be racing in the big ones this weekend), so the visitors had the track and parade-ring, which the Japanese horses schooled in, to themselves.
Both Cup and Sprint look fascinating affairs with the Sprint, despite its lower prize-money, seeming especially competitive. The “Supers”, Hong Kong’s Super Jockey and Singapore’s Super Winner, as well as the newly Irish-trained Wild Dude join UAE pair of Art Wave and Beachy Head and Japanese duo Million Volts and Grape Brandy will face the hugely promising Busan-trained Perdido Pomeroy. While proven quality is on the side of the visitors, the sand-track can be a great leveler as was shown when Choegang Schiller, who will also run, won last year’s Asia Challenge Cup. Due to Super Jockey’s presence, the Sprint will be simulcast live to the Hong Kong Jockey Club.
The Japanese raiders look like they mean business and the pair of Chrysolite and Kurino Star O seem especially formidable in the Cup where they will line-up with Famous Mark as well as Singapore’s Infantry and Order Of The Sun, UAE’s Need To Know and Great Britain’s Solar Deity in taking on Korean Triple Crown winner Power Blade.
The barrier draw which, with 16 runners set to run in each race, could be crucial, will take place on Thursday lunchtime.