Month: July 2017

Busan Friday: Race-By-Race Preview (July 21)

It’s Friday! It’s Busan! 10 races on the South Coast from 14:30 to 21:00. English racecards are here, notes on races for overseas simulcast are below:

Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

1. GAMUNUI YEOWANG – 10th on debut behind Black Fine.2. BOUND TODAY – Solitary star was in November last year. Trialled up averagely.
3. S PARIS – Offered little in three goes last year. First start in nine months. Looked ok in trials.
4. CHEONJI RHYTHM – Slow in both outings to date.
5. HANEOLUI GISANG – First timer. Not quick in trial but knew what to do. Top stable.
6. ROYAL RIVER – Debut-maker. Trial wasn’t quick but did enough.
7. NEULPUREUN DRAGON – Only beat a couple home on debut.
8. MIO – Faded on debut over 1300M. Should much better at the minimum today.
9. SEOGANG JILJU – First start today. Trialled up behind Pocket Rocket.
10. POCKET ROCKET – Debut-maker who looked competent in trial.
11. BLACK FINE – 7th and 5th in two stars to date. Drops to 1000M for the first time and surely has a good chance. (more…)

Choegangja & Zentenary Set for Kranji KRA Trophy

Two Korea-trained horses, Choegangja and Zentenary, are in Singapore for the annual running of the Korea Racing Authority Trophy which will be held over 1200M at Kranji this coming Sunday. As in previous years, the race will be broadcast live – without betting – at Seoul & Busan Racecourses during the local Sunday afternoon cards.


Choegangja, on his way to victory last year, is in Kranji (Pic: Ross Holburt)

The Korean contingent has generally not found this race to be easy and this year looks set to be no exception as they face a strong local challenge attracted by the S$250,000 purse. Zentenary has drawn gate 1 while Choegangja will break from gate 8. Here’s the field (full card at the Singapore Turf Club website here):


This year there’s no excuse for lack of local knowledge as both horses are in the care of Brian Dean, the former Singapore based trainer who has just finished up training in Seoul. Additionally, unlike previous runnings of this race, it was decided this time to put local Kranji-based jockeys on board the two horses and accordingly Oscar Chavez, who partnered El Padrino in his second Asia Challenge Cup at Seoul Racecourse in 2015, will ride Choegangja while Malaysian Kasim A’Isisuhairi gets the leg-up on Zentenary.

Choegangja (USA) [Silver Train – Sweet Sizzle (Distorted Humor)]

The pick of the two, he blossomed after moving to Brian Dean at the tail-end of his three-year-old season, winning five races in a row and moving from class 3 to class 1 in the process. He finally came unstuck when missing the break in the SBS Sports Trophy at the start of June, resenting the kick-back and ultimately finishing last but can be forgiven for that. A US bred, Choegangja was a $40,000 purchase from Fasig Tipton 2-year-olds in training sale in May 2015.

Zentenary (USA) [First Defence – Celestic (Sky Classic)]

A $30,000 buy from OBS 2-year-olds in training sale in 2013, the now 6-year-old has won 6 of his 31 starts with one of them coming at class 1, an all-the-way effort last Christmas Eve. He’s been up and down in six outings in 2017 with two 3rd places being the best including last time out on June 18th, over this distance of 1200M.


JP Guillambert Begins Busan Sojourn With Winner

It’s not easy being a foreign jockey in Korea, not even at the traditionally more open Busan. Early runs on the board are essential and that’s exactly what JP Guillambert managed to achieve on his first weekend in the saddle on the South Coast.

The 34-year-old had five rides across the two days for five different trainers and Guillambert finished inside at least the minor money on four of them. The highlight though was his first victory which arrived on Sunday afternoon on the modestly-named Global Champion in race 2.

The three-year-old Cape Blanco colt had looked every inch the no-hoper in his early starts and even though he had been showing signs of figuring things out in his latest two, Global Champion was nevertheless sent off at odds in excess of 50/1.

Guillambert’s fellow British jockey Darryll Holland will probably want to forget the race as he looked set to make all on co-favourite Vega Khan. That was until the very final strides when Guillambert brought Global Champion unnoticed up the rail to steal victory by half a length on the line.

Victory may have been a tad fortunate but for Guillambert, who like Holland will have to overcome a riding weight of 54kg which will limit his opportunities, it’s a great start.

Guillambert is riding at Busan on an initial four-month license.

33/1 Yeonggwanguihunter Wins Minister’s Cup

There was a surprise in the Minister’s Cup as outsider Yeonggwanguihunter (Colors Flying) raced to victory in what was the final leg of the 2017 Korean Triple Crown at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon.

Derby winner Final Boss was sent off as favourite for the 2000M test but just like in the Cup mile, he didn’t feature until far too late after a pedestrian (to put it generously) pace was set in the early stages on a track that was beginning to dry out following a weekend of rain.

Cup mile winner Indian King performed admirably, joining outsider Wild Thunder on what passed for the early speed and staying on well for 2nd place. Daeho Sidae built on disappointing runs in both Cup Mile and Derby to come home a close 3rd. Royal Ruby, 2nd in both first two legs ran well in 4th.

The day belonged to Yeonggwanguihunter though whose jockey Lim Sung Sil opted to loop the field in the back straight, something that transpired to be the key move. They struck the front a furlong out and comfortably saw off the late challenges to win by half a length on the line.

Yeonggwanguihunter began the race a 33/1 chance. He’d won three of his ten previous starts at no higher level than class 4 and at no greater distance than 1300M. He took his chance here following 3rd place in an 1800M class 3 handicap a month ago.

For trainer Lim Keum Man, it was a second Group winner following Yeongung Manse in the 2009 Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup. For jockey Lim Sung Sil, it was a seventh group success.

Yeonggwanguihunter [Colors Flying – Cheers Again (Awesome Again)] was bred by Kim Hae Buk. His dam, Canada-bred Cheers Again was a $17,000 purchase from Keeneland’s October 2007 Breeding Stock sale. Yeonggwanguihunter is her fifth foal to race in Korea with four of them having won at least one race. She has a yearling by Eurosilver and recently produced a foal by Chapel Royal. Both are colts.

Busan provided the first four home on the day with Final Boss leading home the Seoul representatives in 5th. Final Boss surely remains the most naturally gifted of this crop. Will he produce later in the year?

Minister’s Cup (KOR G3) – Seoul Racecourse – 2000M – July 16, 2017

1. Yeonggwanguihunter (KOR) [Colors Flying – Cheers Again (Awesome Again)] – Lim Sung Sil – 33.7, 6.5
2. Indian King (KOR) [Biwa Shinseiki – Indian Diamond (Indian Charlie)] – Ham Wan Sik – 3.3
3. Daeho Sidae (KOR) [Simon Pure – Ara Mireu (Didyme)] – Choi Si Dae – 2.8
Distances: 0.5 lengths / Neck
Also Ran: 4. Royal Ruby 5. Final Boss 6. Wild Thunder 7. America Power 8. Uju Star 9. Jejui Haneul 10. Bright Star 11. Teukbyeol Star 12. Choegang Jeollyeok

Seoul Sunday – Minister’s Cup Day: Race-By-Race Preview (July 16)

The final leg of the 2017 Korean Triple Crown takes place on Sunday at Seoul Racecourse with the winners of the Cup Mile, Derby and Oaks all taking their chance in the Minister’s Cup. Sunday sees 11 races at Seoul from 11:45 to 19:00 and 6 at Busan from 13:25 to 17:40.


Final Boss won the Korean Derby (Pic: KRA)

Derby winner Final Boss is the favourite. He was Champion Juvenile last year but arrived at the first leg of the Triple Crown, the KRA Cup Mile (Korean Guineas) in Busan in April looking anything but himself. He still ran 5th as Indian King took the honours ahead of Royal Ruby and American Power.

Back home in Seoul in the Derby in May, Final Boss once more didn’t make things easy for himself. He dawdled at the back of the field in the early stages of the race and once he launched his late challenge, veered violently across to the stands-side rail. Regardless, he hit the front in the final furlong and raced on to win by an easy three lengths. Royal Ruby and American Power once more came home in 2nd and 3rd.

So to Sunday and stretching out to 2000M in the Minister’s Cup, a distance none of the 12 runners have tackled before. That surely won’t be a problem for Final Boss who looked ready to go round again after the Derby. Nor should it be for Royal Ruby and American Power who could well end up filling out the places in all three legs of the Triple Crown.

Across the first two legs of the Crown, only one filly took her chance. This time there are four and they’re the top four place-getters from last month’s Oaks. That race produced a record breaking trifecta dividend as longshot Jejui Haneul enabled Kim Hye Sun to make history as the first Korean female jockey to win a Classic. She goes again, however, it is the runner-up that day, Bright Star who could turn out to be the best of them.

All in all though, the race looks set up for Final Boss to confirm his position as the standout of his crop. Notes on all Seoul races are below:

Race 1: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million
1. SPECIAL BIG C – 7th behind Little Wing last start but looks to have potential for better. Placing chances.
2. UPDATE – Woeful in first few outings but getting the hang of it now. Minor money chances.
3. NANGMAN STAR – Not beaten many in three goes so far.
4. WIND POWER – Not too far away in recent outings and should be looking to match career best of 4th.
5. LITTLE WING – Beat Special Big C last start and can look for the places again.
6. YAHO WORLD STAR – 8th of 11 on debut a month ago. Needs a bit of improvement before he can be considered.
7. SACHEON DAESEONG – Best finish to date a 5th over 1000M. 7th of 11 on first try at this distance at the end of May.
8. MIGHTY COOL – Underwhelming so far but from an enterprising stable so may improve.
9. BEST MISSION – Best of 4th from five. Plenty to find here.


Seoul Saturday: Race-By-Race Preview (July 15)

Two Korea-trained horses touched down in Singapore early Friday morning ahead of the KRA Trophy race which will be run at Kranji on Sunday July 23. Michael Lee at the Singapore Turf Club covers their arrival here and here.

Back in Seoul there is an 11 race Saturday card from 14:00 to 21:00. English racecards are here. Notes on all simulcast races are below:

Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

1. DAE CAIN – First-time. Dam has produced four who reached the track all of them recording at least one win. Was slow in trials.

2. STORMY – 8th on debut a month ago behind the three others who have raced before and also go here. Didn’t disgrace himself though and can progress here.

3. BEST DOLPUNG – First foal from dam who won two from 20. Didn’t stand out in trials.

4. MAJJABEUN SON – Well back in trials, not much to recommend first up.

5. MONE FLYING – 4th of 11 at this distance on debut beaten by Macha Bucha and The Rose. Started slowly but finished very well. Could get closer today.

6. THE ROSE – 3rd behind Macha Bucha and ahead of Mone Flying on debut. In frame again for a repeat.

7. MACHA BUCHA – The favourite. 2nd on debut on June 17th, beating the three others here with racing experience. Should win this.

8. AREUMDAUN SOPUNG – Best of the debut-makers. Looked competent when 2nd in a decent trial last month. Hansen’s first Korean crop looks promising.

9. RACE BEATER – Average in trials, watching brief first up. (more…)

Busan Friday: Race-By-Race Preview (July 14)

There are 10 races at Busan on Friday with the first at 14:30 and the last at 21:00. UK jockey JP Guillambert will have his first Korean rides. Notes on all simulcast races below:

Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

1. BUGYEONG DAEBAK – First time starter. Looked competent in trials and great chance to score first-up.
2. HWANGGEUMBITYEONGU – Ten starts so far with a best finish of 5th. May suit being back to minimum trip today but won’t be favoured.
3. MIR KAN – Yet to go any better than 7th in seven attempts. Tough to support here too.
4. LUCKY ADELE – Debut-maker. First foal out of dam who was undistinguished on the track. Average in trials but top trainer & jockey combination.
5. MAKGANG BOLT – Best of 4th among five slow efforts to date. Will need to improve.
6. SARANG MISO – 8th foal from dam, 5 of the others have won. Trialled up in decent fashion and could go well. First start today.
7. YES QUEEN – 1 7 starts so far. Comes in following three consecutive 5th place finishes and no reason why she can’t repeat.
8. DALKOMHAN INSAENG – One of few in this field who has come close before. Should go close again here. (more…)