It’s arguably the race of the year so far at Busan Racecourse on Sunday as a field of 15 top class sprinters line up for the Busan Ilbo Cup. Macheon Bolt, last year’s Korea Sprint hero, joins several top line contenders for the Six-furlong Listed race.
Macheon Bolt ran 2nd to Hong Kong raider Super Jockey in the inaugural Korea Cup in Seoul last September and while he could only manage 4th when top weight in a handicap last time out, he looks set for a big run this time under British jockey Darryll Holland.
There are plenty of others in contention too. Recently returned from the Dubai Carnival where his participation was restricted to one 4th place due to lameness, Seoul Bullet can beat anyone on his day while last year’s Korean Dubai star Success Story is a dangerous front-runner who is firmly in the hunt.
Then there is the wildcard. US import King Of Ace has only raced three times but he has won all three with ease and looks a potential star. We’ll see the measure of him here. Then there is the likes of Triple Five, a smart class 1 winner over this distance a month ago, not to mention the Stakes winners Perdido Pomeroy and Beolmaui Kkum. It’s set to be a fascinating contest.
There are 6 Sunday races at Busan from 12:40 to 17:10 while at Seoul there are 11 from 10:45 to 18:00. English race cards can be found here. Notes on all races to be simulcast overseas are below:
Busan Race 1: Class 5 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
1. SMART LADY – 5th behind Lady Chartered and Main Vicar last time and can look to match that today. Should be able to get on speed this time.
2. LADY CHARTERED – Occasionally pulls a big run out, something she’s done twice in her last four outings. Place not impossible once more.
3. LUCKY JILJU – 6th behind Keun Mabeop last start and plenty to find today.
4. MAIN VICAR – Much improved 3rd behind Lady Chartered last time. Place the aim again.
5. GEUMTE – Close in recent outings including a 3rd place last time. Looks ready to match or better that this time.
6. KEUN MABEOP – Well back behind a couple of these in March, he managed 2nd in a weak affair three weeks ago.
7. HELO VENUS – Time for this one to win; she comes in following three consecutive 2nd places, including a decent race at this level over 1200M last time.
8. OHO DAEJANGGUN – Up in class following her maiden win over the distance a month ago. This will likely be harder.
9. VICTORY BROWN – Struggled a little at 1200M last start but steps back in trip today. Top trainer and jockey combination and in the frame here.
10. ENTER WAY QUEEN – Just lost her way a little in recent outings and has form to overturn on a few.
11. PARTY CONCEP – Three 2nd places among four starts so far. Needs to find a bit today to match those.
Verdict: (7) HELLO VENUS is yet to win in four outings but she’s managed three 2nd places beating better horses than she comes up against here so it is really her time to strike in this all filly & mare contest. However, should she come down with “second-it is” again, there are one or two who could take advantage. The Peter Wolsley trained (9) VICTORY BROWN looks chief among them but others such as (5) GEUMTE and (2) LADY CHARTERED may also be able to convert good recent form into victory.
Selections (7) Hello Venus (9) Victory Brown (5) Geumte (2) Lady Chartered
Next Best 1, 6
Fast Start 1, 6, 9, 11
Busan Race 2: Class 5 (1600M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
1. ACE JILJU – Beaten very few recently and big outsider.
2. MINNEUNDAERO – Yet to win any prize money in nine career starts.
3. BAROGA – Previous tries at this distance haven’t been successful but he’s come into consistent form of late and can be considered.
4. MEISTER GO – Up in class having come too close in recent class 6 efforts. Big ask here.
5. DAEJIUI HUIMANG – Much improved 4th at class and distance on April 7th. Repeat is not impossible.
6. HWANHAN SESANG – Not found it easy in three outings at this level.
7. RED SIREN – Up in class and distance following a five-length win over 1300M at the end of March. Looks to have good potential.
8. TIME CASTLE – Class 6 winner at this distance in February, he only beat two home on first try at this level.
9. HANEOL NURI – An eye-catching fourteen-length winner over 1300M just two weeks ago. Up in class and distance but he has to be favourite.
10. DARMA – Six-length winner at this distance on March 31st and is accordingly up in class today. A chance.
11. QUEEN’S QUEEN – 4th in a big fillies race in March and then 3rd at class and distance last start. Solid claims today.
Verdict: (9) HANEOL NURI is from Busan’s top stable and won so easily last time that even though it was at class 6, he has to be favourite here. Most likely to stop him are a pair who enter in solid if unspectacular form; (3) BAROGA and (11) QUEEN’S QUEEN are proven money winners at this level and could push the favourite. Another up in class pair, (7) RED SIREN and (10) DARMA are the others to take into account.
Selections (9) Haneol Nuri (3) Baroga (10) Darma (11) Queen’s Queen
Next Best 7
Fast Start 5, 9, 10, 11
Seoul Race 6: Class 4 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
1. KAIZEN FORCE – Steps back in trip having been last over 1700M a month ago. Outsider still.
2. WILD WEST CAT – Only beat a couple home first up last time. Can have come on for that but still plenty to find.
3. GOLDSTAR HILLS – Sounds like the name of a country club and she’s up in class having won two of her last three. In the hunt again.
4. ALBERTUS CROWN – Offered few clues in four outings to date, with 5th of nine being his best.
5. RAON MAGIC – Three for three so far, most recently at this class. First try at 1300M today but very much the one to beat.
6. TAEYANGUI HUYE – Solid 3rd at class and distance latest start and in the frame again.
7. GOLD SEVEN – 2nd at class and distance in January but was 8th on sole start since.
8. CHOEGO JAL NAGA – Well back behind Raon Magic last start. Could be closer today but little to suggest he can overturn that form.
9. TRICKER – Recent efforts do not inspire.
Verdict: (5) RAON MAGIC enters here with a 100% record to maintain and there’s no real reason why it won’t still be intact at the finish line. It’s his first try at the distance and his winning margin last time at 1200M was his smallest so far but if he gets in front, he should be difficult to dislodge. The up in class (3) GOLDSTAR HILLS has won two of her last three and could pose a threat as could (6) TAEYANGUU HUYE and (9) TRICKER but all roads seem to lead to the favourite here.
Selections (5) Raon Magic (3) Goldstar Hills (6) Taeyangui Huye (9) Tricker
Next Best 7, 1
Fast Start 3, 5, 6
Busan Race 3: Class 4 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 55 Million
1. SWICH – Yet to win in six outings but getting closer. 2nd last time and perhaps the one to beat here. Not usually a fast starter. Aussie-bred by Congrats.
2. SEUNGJEONPILSA – Managed an unexpected 2nd place over 1300M in February but gone cold in three subsequent outings.
3. FLYING RANGER – Offered few clues in three outings to date. Aussie-bred by Rothesay (A$26K from Magic Millions Gold Coast in 2015)
4. B.K. PARK – Solitary win was at this distance and he beat Flying Ranger last time on his way to 4th. Should be in at least the placing frame today.
5. COMING SOON – Three starts so far with little to show for it.
6. GYERIMUI JILJU – Yet to win in 23 but he has proven capable of picking up money at this level so while he’s unlikely to be winning, he can challenge for the places.
7. ONLY BLUE – Faded over 1400M last time but steps back just 100M into her comfort zone today and can go better. Not among the favourites though.
8. SUPER EAGLE – Down in class having been uncompetitive at class 3. We do often see those relegated bouncing back quickly but this still looks a stiff test.
9. MUJEOKUI SAMSON – A win and a 3rd from his latest two which were both at 1800M. Back in trip for the first time this year and he’s a contender.
10. TAEGWON CHAMP – Yet to win in 24 and recent form is uninspiring.
11. ADELEUI BOM – 3rd of 12 over class and distance last time and a repeat is possible.
12. YEONGGWANGUIHUNTER – Comes in following a 2nd and a 3rd from his latest two, albeit a long way behind the winners. Big chance here.
Verdict: (1) SWICH has been getting closer and closer and looks ready to get his maiden win here. He’s not the quickest of starters but if he can find a decent spot out of the inside gate, he’ll be the one they need to beat. (11) ADELEUI BOM and (12) YEONGGWANGUIHUNTER both come in following solid 3rd places at this class and will be competitive with (4) B.K. PARK and (9) MUJEOKUI SAMSON others who could surprise.
Selections (1) Swich (12) Yeonggwanguihunter (9) Mujeokui Samson (11) Adeleui Bom
Next Best 4, 6
Fast Start 2, 7, 8, 9
Seoul Race 7: Class 4 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
1. CURRICLE – Found things tough in three outings so far at this level.
2. BIG TRIO – Got his maiden win last time and it had been coming. He is up in class today and is in the frame again.
3. SUPER BROAD – Hasn’t inspired in three runs since a 2nd place at class and distance last October.
4. BOLT SIGN – Seems to have found his level beating plenty but also finding a few too quick each time.
5. BELLA LAURA – 5th behind Chowon Bolt last start. Solid efforts so far at this class so can put in another one today.
6. HUIMANG POINT – Comes in off back to back 2nd place finishes, the most recent at this level. Has claims.
7. PYEONGCHON LION – 4th behind Huimang Point latest start. Encouraging run and could have placing ambitions here.
8. CHOWON BOLT – Improved 3rd ahead of Bella Laura latest start. Not impossible today.
9. SONGAM STAR – Recent efforts have been uninspiring.
Verdict: (2) BIG TRIO had been threatening a win and it finally came at the sixth time of asking last month over 1300M. He’s up in class today but has every chance of going close once more. (6) HUIMANG POINT and (7) PYEONGCHON LION ran 2nd and 4th at class and distance on April 1st and can go close again while (5) BELLA LAURA and (8) CHOWON BOLT, who also raced each other last time out, are others in the frame.
Selections (2) Big Trio (6) Huimang Point (7) Pyeongchon Lion (5) Bella Laura
Next Best 8, 3
Fast Start 4, 7
Race 4: Class 4 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 55 Million
1. EUNGBIBYEOSU – 7th of 10 last time and plenty to find today.
2. WONIL ACE – 6th behind both Powerful Force and Sharp Win last start. The time before he missed out on the win by a neck so he’s worth another chance here.
3. MORNING BARAMSE – Highly thought of filly who was 2nd in a Listed race in March. 3rd last time out and the probable favourite here.
4. CHEONGMA DAEJANGUN – Gone completely cold of late and would be a big surprise here.
5. VALKYRIE – Down in class but still plenty to find.
6. GARAK GONGWON – 53rd start today. Usually beats a few but usually gets beaten by a few more.
7. USEUNG CHOEGO – Comes in here in solid form, not missing by much in recent outings. Could be in the hunt for the places.
8. POWERFUL FORCE – Beat Sharp Win and Wonil Ace when racing 4th over class and distance on April 9th. Followed it with 6th two weeks later.
9. UJU STAR – Up in class having won both his last two. Up in distance as well but looks a good prospect, should be on speed here and could win again.
10. KWAEHAN MYEONGPUM – Proven money winner at this level. Others should be better but can place.
11. SHARP WIN – 5th behind Powerful Force last time, he could overturn that form but still has plenty to find.
Verdict: (3) MORNING BARAMSE was 2nd in the Gyeongnam Sinmun Cup – essentially an early Oaks trial – in March and followed up with a 3rd place over a mile last time out. She looks to still have scope for further improvement and can show that with a win here. Also with potential is (9) UJU STAR. She’s won two of her three races to date and steps up in both class and distance here with no reason why she can’t be competitive. (2) WONIL ACE was beaten by a couple of these last time but can overturn that form today while (7) USEUNG CHOEGO and (10) KWAEHAN MYEONGPUM are others who could find the money.
Selections (3) Morning Baramse (9) Uju Star (2) Wonil Ace (7) Useung Choego
Next Best 10, 1
Fast Start 3, 9
Seoul Race 8: Class 5 (1700M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
1. CHEONJI GONGSA – Class and distance winner at 50/1 in March and then 4th at same last start. Solid claims here.
2. LUNA CHAMP – 7th of 11 latest start and any improvement the aim here.
3. JOGYESAN – 4th at class and distance latest start and should be in the hunt today.
4. K MOUNTAIN – Last of 12 at odds approaching 100/1 last time and hard to recommend today.
5. DREAM CITY – 5th behind Cheonji Gongsa in March but followed up with solid effort in 2nd at class and distance last start. Can win.
6. COLD STAR – 8th behind Jogyesan on latest outing and plenty to find today.
7. STRONG SHINE – Just the one win from 38 but enters having come consistently close lately and has placing claims today.
8. EIGER – Faces a challenge akin to scaling the North Face here.
9. BIG SKY – 6th of 11 on year’s debut just two weeks ago. Can improve today.
Verdict: Competitive affair here and (1) CHEONJI GONGSA will warrant respect having beaten a few of these on her way to good results, including a victory, in her latest two, both at class and distance. One of those was (5) DREAM CITY but he came back out to run 2nd on April 9th and while he’s yet to get his maiden win, it could just be a matter of time. The experienced (7) STRONG SHINE can run close again while (3) JOGYESAN, another of those beaten lately by Cheonji Gongsa, can also be competitive.
Selections (1) Cheonji Gongsa (5) Dream City (7) Strong Shine (3) Jogyesan
Next Best 9
Fast Start 3, 4
Race 5: Class Open (1200M) Weight For Age / KRW 350 Million
1. OREUSE – 4th behind Triple Five and Morning Daero last time and that would be a sensible target again.
2. PERDIDO POMEROY – 2nd last year. Began this year with a win over 1400M but was well back behind Macheon Bolt last start. Talented but needs more today.
3. SPECIAL SKY – Seoul-trained horse. Hard to imagine him being competitive in this company.
4. TRIPLE FIVE – Bart Rice-trainee who beat three of these when winning a handicap at this distance on April 2nd.
5. WONIL GANGJA – Stablemate of Triple Five and the second string but decent horse in his own right. 5th behind Macheon Bolt last time.
6. SUCCESS STORY – Steps back in trip for the first time since this race last year when he was 3rd. If he gets the lead – and it’s likely – he’s a big chance.
7. SMOKEN JOE – Seoul-trained horse. Out of his depth today.
8. BEOLMAUI KKUM – One of the top horses of the last few years, just ran out of steam of late. He’s been written off before though so handle with care.
9. BAEDARI BOBAE – Solid campaigner who always takes on the best – hence his rather light win column. Tough ask here.
10. MACHEON BOLT – 2nd in the Korea Sprint to Hong Kong’s Super Jockey, he was a decent 4th last start. Rare chance at level weights today. Could win.
11. KING OF ACE – Exciting talent who is unbeaten in three outings. This challenge is significantly greater than anything he’s faced so far but he looks very very good.
12. NAESARANG DAMYANG – Seoul-trained horse. Stablemate of Smoken Joe and here for the hay. No chance.
13. SEOUL BULLET – Beat Perdido Pomeroy and Macheon Bolt in December and then ran 4th to Main Stay at the Dubai Carnival despite coming back lame. Big chance here.
14. ACE CHEONBOK – Thomas Gillespie’s trainee was a class 2 winner in March but well back behind Triple Five on first class 1 start last month.
15. MORNING DAERO – 3rd to Triple Five last month, he has a bit to find here but should give a decent account of himself.
Verdict: Possibly the race of the year so far and it’s a chance for (10) MACHEON BOLT’s quality to show. He ran 2nd to Hong Kong’s Super Jockey at Seoul last September and looked to be coming back to form with a 4th place at the end of March. (11) KING OF ACE is three for three and takes on top class company for the first time. His three races so far have been won by a combined margin of eighteen-lengths without seeming to raise a full gallop. It’s not impossible for him here. Also of note is (13) SEOUL BULLET, who was only able to run once at the Dubai World Cup Carnival but did so creditably and should be very dangerous. There’s danger all through the field. (6) SUCCESS STORY is difficult to dislodge when he gets to the front and could relish a rare crack at a sprint. (2) PERDIDO POMEROY, (4) TRIPLE FIVE and (8) BEOLMAUI KKUM are also risky to rule out.
Selections (10) Macheon Bolt (11) King Of Ace (6) Success Story (13) Seoul Bullet
Next Best 8, 4, 2, 1
Fast Start 2, 6, 7, 8
Seoul Race 9: Class 3 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million
1. STEPHANO – Scratched last time due to lameness in both forelegs. He’s over that but recent form doesn’t inspire.
2. SOKBO WANGJA – Only beat one home last start but has proved capable at this level in the past. Outside chance of a place.
3. GRIFFIN – Steps back in trip following three creditable attempts around two turns. If he gets a good start, he can go close.
4. MASANG GWIJAE – 7th of 12 on first try at this class a month ago. Improvement is possible in this company.
5. DONGHAE CHANGA – Has a 2nd over 1200M at this level to her name. Steps up to 1400M for the first time. Others may be quicker.
6. OPEN BANK – Rarely misses by much. Recent outings all at 1200M but can be in the placing frame today.
7. RAON AMOS – Looked a potential star when winning five on the bounce last spring & summer. Lameness issues since and has struggled. First start since January. A risk.
8. GEOMBIT GANGJA – Strong favourite having won 4 of his last 7. Steps back in trip today and should be winning.
Verdict: (8) GEOMBIT GANGJA comes in here looking for his third consecutive win and while he’s up in class, he shouldn’t really have too many problems. He’s usually slow away so gate 8 shouldn’t be a problem. Best chance of stopping him belongs to (3) GIRFFIN although (4) MASANG GWIJAE and (6) OPEN BANK can be competitive too.
Selections (8) Geombit Gangja (3) Griffin (6) Open Bank (4) Masang Gwijae
Next Best 7
Fast Start 3, 4, 5
Race 6: Class 2 (1800M) Handicap / KRW 90 Million
1. GLORIA ALPHA – Solid efforts lately see him up in class today. Tough ask but can be competitive.
2. ICE MARINE – Currently reckoned the top three-year-old filly in Korea. She was 6th in the first leg of the Triple Crown and won’t go to the Derby. She goes here instead and is favourite.
3. JUNGANG CHAMP – Disappointing run last time but had excuses and may improve.
4. MR. KAISER – Recent form not inspiring.
5. FIELD SCAMPER – Shown little in four outings since returning from a lengthy layoff.
6. NAGASINDA – He’s a decent finisher but tends to leave himself too much to do.
7. PRIVATE DANCER – Up in class having scored at 1800M three weeks ago. Looks nicely in here.
8. SINSEGYE GANGJA – Returned from six months out to be well beaten by a number of these at the end of March. Can improve under new trainer but still an outsider.
9. RISING BRAVO – 3rd on first start of 2017 at the end of March and firmly in the hunt here.
10. IRON TRAIN – Solid 4th at class and distance last time brings him into at least placing contention here.
11. GOLD MOON – A winner at this distance at class 3, he hasn’t found this level easy but did show improvement last time.
12. SEONGSAN PAECHONG – 65th start today but form has been cold of late.
Verdict: (2) ICE MARINE can confirm her status as favourite for the Korean Oaks with a win here. She could only manage 6th in the KRA Cup Mile, the first leg of the Triple Crown, but should be looking to get on the early speed here and can go all the way. Plenty of talent here though. (7) PRIVATE DANCER is up in class after a useful win at the distance three weeks ago and should go well while (9) RISING BRAVO may well have come on for his first race of the season at the end of March when he defeated three of these on his way to 3rd place. (1) GLORIA ALPHA and (10) IRON TRAIN are others to be taken into account.
Selections (2) Ice Marine (7) Private Dancer (9) Rising Bravo (1) Gloria Alpha
Next Best 10, 3
Fast Start 1,2, 9
Seoul Race 10: Class 2 (1800M) Handicap / KRW 90 Million
1. PERFECT SHINE – Beat three of these when racing 3rd over class and distance on April 2nd. Repeat is not impossible.
2. GUY START – 4th behind Perfect Shine on April 2nd. That was his best result so far at this level and a repeat would be a very good result today.
3. ANYANG TIGER – 5th behind Perfect Shine and Guy Start on April 2nd. He is proven at this level though so it wouldn’t be a surprise if that form was overturned today.
4. SIMSIN JIRYEO – Struggled in a couple of big races last two times out and while today’s field is marginally softer, she’ll still be an outsider.
5. SIMBA – Has got closer in all three attempts at this level. 4th last time in arguably stiffer company and a big chance to get it right today.
6. POWER BISEUL – Finally stepped up to two turns, he has held his own in two goes at this level over 1200M. Distance obviously a question but an interesting outsider.
7. SUPER COMMANDO – Narrowly beaten by Ready Khan and Simba last start but should be a threat here.
8. CHEONNYEON YUSAN – It’s been a long time since he was a danger.
9. STORM HIT – Races for the first time since a shock 2nd place at the distance in February. Up in class here, he trialled up averagely last month.
10. REAL TEN – Looks on the verge of going down in class.
11. BULGEUN GISANG – Behind three of these last time and plenty of form to overturn here.
12. READY KHAN – 5th behind Simba and ahead of Super Commando last start, he can match or perhaps even better it today.
Verdict: (5) SIMBA hasn’t been too far away in three starts at this level since a win last November. He’s beaten plenty of these along the way and could well get it right today. (7) SUPER COMMANDO and (12) READY KHAN are among those who have been beaten by Simba in those races and can give good accounts of themselves today. (3) ANYANG TIGER and (1) PERFECT SHINE look best of the rest.
Selections (5) Simba (7) Super Commando (3) Anyang Tiger (12) Ready Khan
Next Best 1, 2
Fast Start 10, 12
Seoul Race 11: Class 1 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 110 Million
1. BEST GUY – Slightly disappointing last time when 4th, unexpectedly behind both Sun Burster and Theme Deunggeuk but is worthy of another chance here.
2. DONGCHONUI ACHIM – Enters after three consecutive wins and finds himself at class 1 for the first time. Undeniably a big step up but his form is convincing.
3. DAISYAN – 6th of 12 in a quite tight race over 1800M last start. Could match or better today.
4. WORLD JJANG – Only beat one home latest and much to find.
5. MIRAE YEONGUNG – Just lost his way a little of late but return to form can’t be ruled out.
6. WHO’S PERFECT – Really good run to finish 4th last start on April 1st. Not among the favourites but could surprise again.
7. DOUBLE DRAGON – Well back behind four of these last time and a lot of form to overturn.
8. THEME DEUNGGEUK – Solid 3rd place sandwiched between Sun Burster and Best Guy at class and Distance April 9th. In the hunt here.
9. JEONSEUNG DAESE – Narrowly edged out of 3rd at class and distance last time. Outside chance of a place here.
10. RAON MORRIS – Not quite the horse he once was following a lengthy layoff. Would be a surprise.
11. SINGYU GANGJA – Beaten by three of these last start but don’t rule out completely.
12. SUN BURSTER – Shock 2nd place over class and distance last start, beating four of these so warrants some respect here.
Verdict: Competitive race and (12) SUN BURSTER pulled off a surprise to be the best of the five of these who raced each other over class and distance on April 9th. He must be respected a bit more today although at least two of those he beat, (1) BEST GUY and (8) THEME DEUNGGEUK will be favoured to overturn that form today. The in-form and up in class (2) DONGCHONUI ACHIM and experienced (3) DAISYAN are others to be mindful of.
Selections (1) Best Guy (2) Dongchonui Achim (8) Theme Deunggeuk (3) Daisyan
Next Best 12, 11, 5
Fast Start 1, 10