It was another chastening night in the dirt for Korean runners in Tokyo as Bichui Wangja and Ubaki were unable to make an impact in the 4th running of the Interaction Cup at Ohi Racecourse on Tuesday evening.
Since Watts Village won the inaugural running of the race in 2013, things haven’t been easy for the Korean contingent in Tokyo each autumn in the same way that it has been tough for the NAR runners who travel to Seoul for the Korean-based leg of the challenge each year.
This time around, Korean hopes took an early blow when Oreuse, the top-rated among the three who travelled, pulled up lame at trackwork on Monday morning and had to be scratched. That left Ubaki and Bichui Wangja flying the flag and Japanese punters sent them off as 8th and 10th in the betting respectively for the 1200M test over Ohi’s right-handed course.
After a long delay while Satono Diplomat was scratched, market-leader Looks That Kill (Wildcat Heir) set the early pace and along with Gaudy (Precious Cafe) put several lengths into the field in the early stages as the Korean pair, having drawn outside gates, struggled to get into the early prominent positions required.
Those two on the early speed would lead all the way but it would be Gaudy, under veteran jockey Fumio Matoba who would get up eight on the line to snatch victory. Bichui Wangja and Ubaki trailed home towards the rear of the field.
Gaudy, an 8-year-old horse, was 5th in the betting and was winning for the 9th time on his 58th career start. As for Matoba, the “Emperor of Ohi” was winning a 2nd Japan/Korea race, having claimed the very first one, the 2013 SBS Goodwill Cup at Seoul aboard Tosen Archer. Now pushing 60-years-old, Matoba’s style is not one that gets taught in the world’s jockey academies these but once in full flight, it can be very effective at Ohi.
There’s no disgrace on the ones who went and gave it a go and while the results over the past couple of years have been a touch disappointing, the exchange remains a valuable one, giving trainers and grooms (although this year not jockeys) experience of taking horses overseas to race, something that is vital to the long term development of Korean racing.
The Interaction Cup concludes overseas racing for Korean horses this year. Next up is the Dubai World Cup Carnival in the New Year. Success Story, who did so well at the Carnival last year, won’t be returning but a number of top names have applied for stable allocation.