Sunday sees Sports Chosun Cup day at Seoul with 11 races from 10:45 to 18:00. At Busan there are 6 races from 12:40 to 17:05. English racecards are here.
Rewind to 2015 and Lee Chan Ho was on top of the Korean Racing World. On a glorious August afternoon at Seoul Racecourse, the young jockey, who had ridden out his apprenticeship in double-quick time, partnered Choegang Schiller to win the Asia Challenge Cup, defeating Singapore’s champion sprinter El Padrino on the way to what was then arguably Korean racing’s greatest victory.
Just over a year later it all looked over. After incidents away from racing, Lee found his license cancelled and a career possibly finished at the age of 24. Yet this weekend he’s back as the legal process has reached a stage where he can ride, at least for the time being, pending a final judgement.
The returning Lee admits to having had to lose 10kg in the two weeks since he found out he could resume riding, but he’s done it and will return to big race action when he takes the mount on Yeongnong in Sunday’s 28th running of the Listed Sports Chosun Cup.
Yeongnong probably won’t be favourite but he is one of a number in the hunt in what is a very competitive renewal.
Race 9: Class Open (2000M) Sports Chosun Cup / Allowance / KRW 200 Million
1. ROYAL VICTORY – Beaten by I Am For You and Yeongnong last start over 1400M but was a class 2 winner at 1800M the time before. Can look to place.
2. PERFECT SHINE – 3rd behind Royal Victory over 1800M in April, he’s consistently close but usually finds a few too good and most likely will here too.
3. KAWON – Full brother to a Korean Oaks winner, he’s the form of his life, winning 4 of his last 7. Likely close to the early pace, he’s not raced at this distance before but has to be in the frame.
4. YEONGNONG – 3rd on first try at class 2 behind I Am For You at the end of April, he’ll be on or close to the speed and while a win would be a shock, he can go close.
5. HAETBINNA – Hasn’t found life easy at class 2 recently and this could be challenging too.
6. DONGCHONUI GUY – More known as sprinter, his only previous try around two turns didn’t go well. Talented and quick and the likely pace-setter but at 2000M is hard to recommend on available evidence. The wildcard.
7. I AM FOR YOU – Since winning at 1700M over a year ago, pretty much all his work has been done at sprint distances. Beat three of these at 1400M in April though and no reason to suggest the distance will be insurmountable. A chance.
8. CHOWON GANGTA – Comes in following a class 2 win over 1200M at the beginning of April but has gone well at two turns in the past. Not among the favourites but strong showing can’t be ruled out.
9. GAIA THUNDER – Hasn’t lived up to early promise and stalled on reaching class 2. Showed some improvement of late at sprint distances but big ask today.
10. GEOMBIT GANGJA – Likely favourite, coming in following three consecutive victories. The highest of those was at class 3 so this is a step up in competition but he should be equal to it.
Verdict: The distance is unchartered territory for all but three of these and among those three, (3) KAWON enters in the best form with back to back class 3 victories over 1700M and is firmly in the frame here in what’s a competitive Listed race. Also entering in very solid form is (10) GEOMBIT GANGJA, who has won his last three and is sure to be a threat from the in-form Son Moon Gil stable. (7) I AM FOR YOU and (4) YEONGNONG ran 2nd and 3rd respectively over 1400M at the end of April and should be dangerous while (6) DONGCHONUI GUY steps up in class and distance following two very narrow defeats over 1400M and 1200M and could go well.
Selections (7) I Am For You (10) Geombit Gangja (3) Kawon (6) Dongchonui Guy
Next Best 4, 1
Fast Start 6
Race 10: Class 3 (1800M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million
1. ARGO FLYING – Weakened disappointingly when well backed over 1700M on April 2nd. A couple months off since and can be given another chance today. Front runner.
2. ILJIN HWARANG – Three starts so far this year and an improved 4th over 1200M last time.
3. CHUKACHUKA – 5th behind Banya Donghaeng over 1700M on latest outing having closed strongly. Can get close today.
4. SAMSEONG BULPAE – First try at two turns, he looks to have plenty of potential. A little disappointing on first try at this class last start but beautifully weighted here and in with a chance.
5. GANGTORI – Recent form has been very cold. Down in class today though.
6. BANYA DONGHAENG – 3rd on both tries at this level, both at this distance, beating a couple of these in the process. Big chance here.
7. BROOKS – Capable of good performances on his day as evidenced by a 2nd place at 1900M back in February. Up and down in recent outings.
8. SUN CREST – Well back on only start so far in 2017 last month. She was coming off a six-month layoff so needed the outing but remains hard to recommend here.
9. MOLLYDOOKER – 9th behind both Banya Donghaeng and Chukachuka on latest start and plenty of form to overturn here.
Verdict: (6) BANYA DONGHAENG has been a well beaten 3rd on both his last two outings but looks nicely in here and can get it right today. Main danger looks to be the up and comer (4) SAMSEONG BULPAE, who tries two turns for the first time and carries a very light weight, while (1) ARGO FLYING and (3) CHUKACHUKA both look capable of improving on their latest starts.
Selections (6) Banya Donghaeng (4) Samseong Bulpae (3) Chukachuka (1) Argo Flying
Next Best 2, 7
Fast Start 1, 9
Race 11: Class 1 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 110 Million
1. DAISYAN – Slightly disappointing last start but reliable and versatile type who could hit the minor money.
2. WINNERS GLORY – Won three in a row around the run of the year before running 5th in the Owners’ Cup at this distance in March. First start since and he has a chance.
3. YAHO SKY CAT – Started class 1 life well but has just gone a little cold in his two efforts so far this year.
4. HALLA CHUKJE – Front-runner but hasn’t been able to stay on at any distance lately. Outsider.
5. SUN ROK – Sent off as favourite last start but could only manage 3rd behind Cupid Power. Ahead of a couple of others though and well worth another chance today.
6. LUCKY LIGHT – 4th behind Cupid Power and Sun Rok on latest start. Could look to match again but will need to improve here. Likely front-runner.
7. WHO’S PERFECT – Managed an unexpected 4th place over 1800M at the start of April but reverted to type last time, well back behind Daisyan.
8. ILGI DANGCHEON – Tailed off last behind Cupid Power, Sun Rok and Lucky Light on what was his first start of the year on May 13th. Can’t be recommended.
9. ZENTENARY – Landed a win and two 3rd places around the turn of the year but has offered little in four starts since.
10. JUNGL DRUMMER – Up in class following three consecutive wins. Trialled up ok last week and while this is a big step up, he can be competitive.
11. HURI BARAM – Up in class and back in trip, he looks very nicely in here. Strong finisher with plenty of potential still, he has a big chance.
12. CUPID POWER – Surprise class and distance winner on May 13th, beating three of these in the process means that he has to be taken seriously today.
Verdict: Another really competitive contest and while (12) CUPID POWER pulled off a surprise win last time ahead of (5) SUN ROK, most will expect that form to be overturned today and Sun Rok may well start the favourite. There will also be plenty of backing for (11) HURI BARAM who is up in class but in the past has shown plenty of speed at this distance. Then there is (2) WINNERS GLORY. He hasn’t raced since a 5th place in the Owners’ Cup in early March but is a talent and must be considered. Brian Dean’s (10) JUNGL DRUMMER too, while up in class today, has plenty of speed and can go close.
Selections (2) Winners Glory (10) Jungl Drummer (11) Huri Baram (5) Sun Rok
Next Best 12, 1
Fast Start 3, 4, 6, 9