Voting is underway for invitations to the 2016 Grand Prix Stakes which is set for Seoul Racecourse on Sunday December 18. Fifteen horses from Seoul and seventeen from Busan are on the ballot for the 2300M contest which will have a maximum field size of sixteen and could well be bereft of any previous winners of the traditional season-ending finale.
The race is based on Japan’s season-ending Arima Kinen in which entry is also decided by a punters’ vote although admittedly, on a much smaller scale. Voting is open for registered users of the KRA’s homepage (www.kra.co.kr) and runs through until Monday November 28.
Horses expected to score highly in the vote from Seoul include KRA Cup Classic winner Clean Up Joy and Ttukseom Cup winner and Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup runner-up Bichui Jeongsang. From Busan, President’s Cup winner Triple Nine and Triple Crown winner Power Blade will of course score highly enough to receive invitations but there will be plenty of votes too for the likes of Beolmaui Kkum, Heba, Gumpo Sky, Diferent Dimension, Dongbang Daero and now, possibly after her Sunday win, Ms. Margaux. Here is the full list of horses on the ballot paper (2016 Stakes winners listed first):
Miso Wangja (YTN Cup)
Bichui Jeongsang (Ttukseom Cup)
Clean Up Joy (KRA Cup Classic)
Touch Flying (Ilgan Sports Cup)
Clean Up Cheonha
Power Blade (KRA Cup Mile, Korean Derby, Minister’s Cup)
Gamdonguibada (Busan Ilbo Cup)
Triple Nine (Owners’ Cup, President’s Cup)
Beolmaui Kkum (Busan Mayor’s Cup)
If Gamdonguibada doesn’t make it in – and unless a lot of invitations are declined, there’s a strong chance she won’t – this will be the first Grand Prix in recent years not to feature a previous winner. Gamdonguibada won the race as a three-year-old all the way back in 2012 and is the only past champion still in training. 2013 winner Indie Band, 2014’s Gyeongbudaero and last year’s champion Bold Kings have all been retired.
In fact, the last time there were no previous winners in the starting line-up was 2003, when the race was won by Tempest West (Silent Tempest). Defending champion Bohamian Butler (Patton) was entered but was a late scratching on the day – he never ran again.