Month: December 2017

New Year’s Eve Sunday At Busan: Race-By-Race Preview (December 31)

We round out 2017 with a bumper 15-race card at Busan! First race at 10:45am and last race at 6pm. Here are the previews:

Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 55 Million

Strong favourite to kick things off with. That will be (6) DAEDONG WINNER, 2nd on debut at this distance on November 24th, a full eleven lengths behind the very good winner Rainha, but still a good enough showing to suggest he’ll have too much for this lot. (8) JANGSEONGI JILJU and (9) GYOHAKSANGJANG both showed a bit of promise with their respective 4th place finishes and look next best while (1) HOTHAE didn’t disgrace himself on debut either. (3) BUGYEONG BOLT qualified by way of a remarkably slow trial but could be the wildcard.

Selections (6) Daedong Winner (8) Jangseongi Jilju (9) Gyohaksangjang (3) Bugyeong Bolt
Next Best 1, 2
Fast Start 3, 7, 8

Race 2: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

Another modest contest but there are a couple of standouts with both (5) ROYAL RIVER and (8) APPLE GOLD showing potential in their limited starts to date and we’ll side with Apple Gold to get the better of the start and lead all the way. Royal River jumped out of the gate awkwardly last time but ran on pleasingly enough and he certainly can challenge today. (1) DONE IT MY put in a poor showing last start but had previously gone ok and therefore gets the third pick here (6) TANGO AND TANGO and (7) EURO SHINHWA are others who can improve.

Selections (8) Apple Gold (5) Royal River (1) Done It My (6) Tango And Tango
Next Best 7, 3
Fast Start 4, 7, 8

Race 3: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million 

Fillies only here and (5) CORE BLADE will be hot favourite to strike. She was just beaten a neck at this distance on what was only her second outing on November 17th in a stronger race than this and she should have too much today. (2) SEORABEOL YEOJE and (3) DYNAMIC RUN came home 4th and 5th over a mile a month ago. They look set to both be on the early speed here and can be competing at least for places. Similarly (7) BAEKDU QUEEN and (9) PEACE TOUR finished 4th and 5th when they raced each other at this distance on December 1st and both chance chances to get closer today.

Selections (5) Core Blade (2) Seorabeol Yeoje (3) Dynamic Run (7) Baekdu Queen
Next Best 9
Fast Start 2, 3

Race 4: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

Bit more competitive this one and (3) EOMJI CHEOK has shown plenty in her two starts since returning to action, a full eleven months after her underwhelming debut. She has a 3rd and a 2nd, running on nicely both times and while today does look a little deeper in terms of the depth of the field, she can get close. (2) TOP EURO has run reasonably well in her two outings so far, overcoming a heavy bump coming out of the gate to finish 4th last time. She’s up in distance today and could well get an easy lead early on. (7) CHOEGANG STEALTH’s latest two have been in decent company and his 4th at this distance at the end of October is probably the most convincing performance that any of these have put in so far and he must be considered. (1) NOPIGOM NAREUSYA and (4) SAEROUN BARAM also come in off the back of encouraging runs. 

Selections (3) Eomji Cheok (7) Choegang Stealth (2) Top Euro (4) Saeroun Baram
Next Best 1, 10
Fast Start 2

Race 5: Class 5 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

With two 2nd places and a 3rd in three outings to date, the most recent of which was at this class, (2) KOREAN ANGEL is picked to strike here. It’s still early days here but she looks a cut above the rest of these fillies and could well lead gate to wire. (10) EURO GONGJU comes in off back to back 3rd place finishes, both at this class and should have the beating of plenty of these while (6) EORIN YEOWANG and (8) YUKRYONGI came home (more…)

Busan Saturday: Race-By-Race Preview (December 30)

Seoul takes the final weekend of the year off so there is a rare Saturday card at Busan. 10 races from 10:45 to 18:00. Here are the previews:


Doraonpogyeongseon won the SBS Sprint this summer – can he return to the winner’s circle at Busan on Saturday? (Pic: KRA)

Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 55 Million

Juveniles to kick things off with and a likely strong favourite with (10) DAMYANG GONGJU having run 3rd and 2nd on her two starts to date, beating a couple of these along the way. She’s come from wide gates both times and should make the breakthrough here. (8) NEW JACK SWING was 5th behind Damyang Gongju on what was his debut on November 24th and can get closer today while (6) SAKISAKI overcame an awkward start to put in a decent performance on what was her second outing last time and looks to have a strong placing chance too.  Among the debut-makers, (7) PARK MINISTER is the only one that stands out so expect the other two experienced ones, (3) SWEET MEMORY and (9) RAON JEONSEOL to also have some backers for improvement.

Selections (10) Damyang Gongju (7) Park Minister (8) New Jack Swing (6) Sakisaki
Next Best 9, 3
Fast Start 1, 3, 9

Race 2: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 55 Million

Juveniles once more and once more another strong favourite is likely. This time it’s (4) UJU DAEWANG with a 2nd and 3rd from two prior efforts who’ll be heavily backed. She led for much of her last race only to get overhauled in the closing stages but should have come on for that and can lead all the way this time. (9) BAEKDU JEONGGI began in an over-leisurely manner on debut three weeks ago but still ran on nicely enough and looks a clear second choice here with (2) STAR WOMAN the pick of the other three who have raced before. There are four first-time starters. (3) YUSEONG SPEED won her trial and could be interesting first-up while jockey/trainer combination for (5) ADELEUI SIN may tempt some too.

Selections (4) Aju Daewang (9) Baekdu Jeonggi (2) Star Woman (3) Yuseong Speed
Next Best 5, 7
Fast Start 4, 7

Race 3: Class 6 (1600M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

Tougher one to call this but (5) ADELE HERO and (7) GOLDEN TROPHY both come in having shown some ability at the distance and in a race with no obvious early pace, they may be tempted to take it on and one of them could go all the way. Adele Hero perhaps more likely to still be there at the business end of the race. (8) B.K MASTER has shown signs of improving – he started badly and lost a shoe last time but still managed 4th – while (1) NEUTRON is slow but should plod his way past plenty in the closing stages here.  (4) HWANNGEUMBITYEONGU was a much improved 3rd last start and goes at the distance for the first time. (3) GOLDEN JOY got a very unfortunate trip on debut and could be the wildcard.

Selections (5) Adele Hero (1) Neutron (7) Golden Trophy (8) B.K. Master
Next Best 3, 6
Fast Start 4, 7, 9, 5

Race 4: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(7) HWARANGUI HUYE comes in off three consecutive 4th place finishes and wasn’t too far away from 2nd place in a decent contest over this distance last time. He’s got a good chance of going better here. (10) ORYONG raced a bit greenly on debut over 1000M on December 1st but still did enough to win quite comfortably. He’s up in class and in distance and will need to find a bit more but he should be competitive if his manners have improved. Also up in distance is (9) SUPER TRAIN and that may well suit having run on well for 5th over 1000M on his first try at this class three weeks ago. (3) BLESS YOU ran well for 3rd at the distance last start and should be in the hunt as should (5) JILJU DAEJANG.

Selections (7) Hwarangui Huye (10) Oryong (9) Super Train (3) Bless You
Next Best 5, 11, 4
Fast Start 3, 7, 8

Race 5: Class 5 (1600M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

(7) SUPER STEAL didn’t get the best of trips last time but still managed to finish a strong 2nd over 1300M. He surely has a win in him at this level and has beaten several of these in recent outings and looks to be the one to beat today, possibly getting an easy lead (more…)

Djordje Perovic Becomes Seoul’s First Foreign Champion Jockey

For the first time since 2009, Seoul Racecourse has a new Champion Jockey and for the first time ever, the champion is from overseas as Djordje Perovic wrapped up the 2017 title at the weekend bringing to an end Moon Se Young’s seven straight Championships.


2017 Seoul Champion Jockey Djordje Perovic (Pic: KRA)

Earlier in the week, Perovic donned suit and bow-tie to pick up “Jockey Of The Year” and “Most Popular Jockey” titles at the annual “LetsRun Park Seoul Awards” but on the track, he could conceivably – if improbably – have been caught with closest rival Kim Yong Geun six behind heading into Seoul’s final two racing days of the year. Ultimately Kim would only add one more win while Perovic would find himself in the winner’s circle on four occasions across Saturday and Sunday to end the season on 106. Moon was 3rd on 84.

36-year-old Perovic, who sports nicknames of “The Balkan Wolf” and “Serbian Frankie” is licensed in Italy and even took time out this summer – as he has done in previous years too – to fulfill licensing requirements back in Europe. Debuting in 1997, he has won Group races in Italy, Croatia, Slovakia and Austria as well as his native Serbia where he has been “Jockey of The Year” on seven occasions as well as being named “Best Sportsman in the city of Kragujevac”.

He arrived in Seoul in 2015 and quickly got among the winners ending that year with 47 victories from 319 rides. More of the same followed in 2016 with 72 wins. In 2017 everything came together. With Moon Se Young opting to spend three months in Singapore and Jo Sung Gon and Jo In Kwen moving to Busan, Perovic quickly became the go-to-man for trainers at Seoul. He passed the 150 Korean winners mark in March and in October became just the second foreign jockey, after Ikuyasu Kurakane, to reach 200.

Perovic’s partnership with Song Moon Gil, who has emerged in the past two seasons as the real heavyweight in the Seoul trainer ranks, yielded the jockey big race success too. He partnered Clean Up Joy to wins in the Listed Herald Gyeongje and YTN Trophies in April and May before guiding Silver Wolf to the Ttukseom Cup in June, thereby securing his first Korean Group winner. In the autumn, he and Silver Wolf added the Listed Munhwa Ilbo Cup to their resumes.

Silver Wolf Ttukseom

Perovic landed his first Korean Group winner on Silver Wolf in the Ttukseom Cup (Pic: KRA)

Seoul Jockey Championship 2017 (Total Wins & Win %age)

1. Djordje Perovic – 106 (21.3%)
2. Kim Yong Geun – 97 (14.7%)
3. Moon Se Young – 84 (18.5%)
4. Lim Gi Won – 63 (15.6%)
5. Song Jae Chul – 46 (11.4%)
6. Lee Hyuk – 46 (10.1%)
7. Park Eul Woon – 43 (16.3%)
8. Kim Hye Sun – 41 (11.95)
9. Choi Bum Hyun – 37 (13.65)
10. Kim Dong Soo – 34 (9.4%)

13. Antonio Da Silva – 26 (7.8%)
21. Shinji Hatanaka – 19 (4.4%)
24. Johan Victoire – 18 (7.6%)
(Da Silva & Victoire only began riding in Korea in May and July respectively)

As this blog has noted for many years now, it is extremely difficult for foreign jockeys to become established in Korea. It isn’t enough to be a good jockey – although Perovic most certainly is one of those – but being able to shrug off the perceived indignities of the early months and the gulf in racing culture between Korea and some other countries, is no easy task, especially for the non-Japanese visitors. Life in general is not easy here – as one jockey who acquitted himself very well but opted not to stay beyond his initial four-month contract put it, it’s all very well only racing twice a week but after morning work is done at 8:30am, what do you do for the rest of the day, especially in winter?

We’ve also noted for many years that the jockey who finally did make the breakthrough would reap lucrative rewards. Djordje Perovic’s hard work and relentless focus has made him that jockey. As of the end of 2017, along with Shinji Hatanaka of Japan, he’s joined at Seoul by Antonio Da Silva and the French pair of Johan Victoire and David Breux. The former two have established themselves well and the latter made an extremely promising start this past weekend.

The Perovic model isn’t going to be an easy one to follow and it may be that this year proves to be the exception rather than the rule but he’s demonstrated it can be done and thoroughly deserves the success that he’s earned.

Djordje Perovic is Seoul Racecourse Champion Jockey of 2017.

Seoul & Busan Sunday: Race-By-Race Preview (December 24)

It’s Christmas Eve and it’s Seoul’s final day of racing of 2017 (Busan has cards on December 30th and 31st). 12 races in the capital from 10:45 to 18:00 plus 5 down at Busan from 12:40 to 16:15. Here are the previews but first take a moment to watch French jockey David Breux ride his first Korean winner – it came in race 9 on Saturday on 20/1 chance Daejangbak:

Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

Djordje Perovic will be crowned champion jockey today and he can get the last racing day of 2017 at Seoul off to a great start with victory on (12) STIRLING in this juvenile filly race. She was a much-improved 3rd last time at this distance and can go two better today. She’s going to be looking to go around the field to get on the early pace and she’s not alone as both (10) ORANGE SOCKS and (11) AREUMDAUN CHEONSA are likely to have similar plans. Both showed promise last time and can continue to progress here. (8) CLAY WIND and (9) MERRY WHITE will have backers to improve as well while among the three debut-makers, (4) TONGHAP SIDAE perhaps has the best chance of troubling the placings on debut.

Selections (12) Stirling (11) Areumdaun Cheonsa (10) Orange Socks (9) Merry White
Next Best 8, 4
Fast Start 4, 10, 11, 12

Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

2nd on debut on November 26th, (3) GALAXY POWER is going to be a warm favourite to win this. He led only to be beaten by one who looks to have a lot potential and should be on the early pace here and go all the way. He’s one of only four of the twelve who have raced before and none of the other three showed an awful lot on their debuts with (7) RAON JEWANG perhaps the only other one who showed promise. That leaves us with the first-timers and (5) BURUI SOKDO and (6) JEWANGUI BYEOL both performed well in trials and have top jockeys on. The latter is favoured. Also showing ability in her trial was (10) BIG THUNDER and she too could go well first-up.

Selections (3) Galaxy Power (6) Jewangui Byeol (7) Raon Jewang (5) Burui Sokdo
Next Best 10, 2
Fast Start 2, 3, 5, 6

Seoul Race 3: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million 

(10) JUNGDONG JIJON has been getting closer and closer and following a 3rd and a 2nd in his latest two, will surely get it right today. He’ll be a hot favourite. (7) MAJJABEUN SON was a much improved 3rd last start and can maintain that momentum today while (1) KAY ONE and (12) MACH SEUNGNI also look to be getting better and can be involved. Other than that we’re looking for something to demonstrate something that they haven’t previously and (3) RAON DOLPUNG, who has finished off both previous races over 1000M well may benefit from the extra distance here.

Selections (10) Jungdong Jijon (7) Majjabeun Son (12) Mach Sungni (1) Kay One
Next Best 3, 9
Fast Start 1, 3, 8, 11

Seoul Race 4: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million 

Wide open here but the Perovic-factor may see (12) SEUNGRI SIDAE home. He just missed out on 2nd place over class and distance on November 19th and looks nicely entered here. (10) SPEED CHEONGNYONG weakened late having led over 1700M last time and should be more comfortable back at 1300M today while (3) GEUMSUN YOU is up in class following a maiden win at the distance a month ago and should be (more…)

Seoul Saturday: Race-By-Race Preview (December 23rd)

It’s the eve of the Eve and Seoul Racecourse runs its final cards of 2017 on Saturday and Sunday. Djordje Perovic is set to become champion jockey, leading closest rival Kim Yong Geun by six wins heading into the final two days of racing. Seoul runs 12 races on Saturday from 10:45 to 18:00. Here are the previews:


Going to be champion – Djordje Perovic (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Race 1: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(2) CAPTAIN POWER got off to a poor start when well-backed over 1000M last start but he’s performed well at this distance already and looks to have every chance of a maiden win here. (7) NAEGA JAL NAGA didn’t appreciate being asked to go round 1700M three weeks ago but has a 2nd place to his name at this distance and should be involved here. Similarly dropping back in distance and into contention is (9) ONE TWO THREE. (10) JIGONG JEIL had a bad day at the office last start but has shown promise and gets another chance here while (4) SEONGUNG put in a creditable enough debut a full twelve weeks ago and returns as the wildcard here. Worth noting that none of the likely favourites are expected to be on the early speed.

Selections (2) Captain Power (7) Naega Jal Naga (9) One Two Three (10) Jigong Jeil
Next Best 4, 12
Fast Start 1, 3, 5

Race 2: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

Not much experience here and it looks wide open. Newly crowned “Jockey Of The Year” will have the chance to add to his winners with (9) GUREUM SONJITHAE, 2nd at the distance o November 11th having led almost the whole way around. He’ll be on speed again and this time could well hang on for a stable that’s bang in form at the moment. (5) PALDO GANGTA has shown promise in two starts so far with a 3rd place in a stiffer contest than this three weeks ago. He takes on further than the minimum distance for the first time here. Among the other experienced ones, (12) MASYA was a decent 4th on debut at the end of last month and can be considered for improvement. Turning to the debut-makers, (1) MIR PARK and (10) MIRACLE HANSEN both looked sharp in winning trials and may be backed first-up.

Selections (9) Gureum Sonjithae (5) Paldo Gangta (10) Miracle Hansen (12) Masya
Next Best 1, 2
Fast Start 9, 10

Race 3: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

Twelve previously unraced 2-year-olds make a late season debut here and we’re going to be a touch lazy and go on their performances in trials. The only one to win a heat was (4) BOEUNUI KKUM, who did so in decent enough fashion a month ago. She’ll be well-backed here. (10) SEUNGRI NARAE was arguably a little more impressive in finishing 2nd in his heat earlier this month and looks set to get a fast start here and could go all the way. Those two look to be the standouts but expect support too for (1) ROAD WOMAN and (3) BEST CHAPEL, both of whom get top jockey bookings. French jockey David Breux gets his first taste of Korean racing on (5) DAEHO CHEONHA, however, given the colt’s trial showings, we’ll take a watching brief with that particular one. As ever in these kind of races, keep an eye on the Korean pools.

Selections (10) Seungri Narae (4) Boeunui Kkum (1) Road Woman (3) Best Chapel
Next Best 9, 2
Fast Start 7, 10, 11, 12

Race 4: Class 6 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(6) BULSA BULPAE was relatively unfancied but still managed to beat five of these on her way to 3rd place over the distance on November 25th. She is perhaps a bit one-paced but has shown she can grind out decent finishes and has as much chance as any of them here. (10) NANGMAN STAR was much better fancied that day and only finished a nose behind Bulsa Bulpae in 4th so will have plenty of backers to overturn things this time while (11) SPECIAL DREAM was further back that day but could improve here on what (more…)

Busan Friday: Race-By-Race Preview (December 22)

The Christmas weekend of racing gets underway at Busan on Friday where there are 11 races from 11:30 to 18:00. Here are the previews:

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

Hard to look too far beyond (2) CHANG GONG in the opener. Across his three starts to date, he’s shown far more than any of the others here and should really lead from gate to wire. (4) YEONGCHEON STAR has shown glimpses of ability with a 4th and a pair of 5th place finishes and should be looking to improve on those here while (12) EVER GOOD TIME and (9) GIPPEUM SARANG came home 4th and 5th at the distance on November 10th and can be in the placing frame. It’s a fresh start for (3) DANCING VICAR today and she re-qualified in decent fashion at the end of November while in such a race we have to give a chance too to the solitary debut-maker. That’s (8) FIRE POINT, who also trialled up well.

Selections (2) Chang Gong (8) Fire Point (4) Yeongcheon Star (3) Dancing Vicar
Next Best 9, 12, 11
Fast Start 2, 4, 9

Race 2: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(10) NINA has shown progress across three starts so far culminating in being beaten by just a Head last time at this distance and she should get her maiden win today. (7) HEUGSEOL GONGJU was a couple of lengths back in 3rd that day and can be in the placing frame again although the primary dangers could turn out to be (3) THUNDER STRUCK, a touch unlucky when running 6th of 9 last time. (6) FAST AWAY was a much-improved 3rd last month having previously shown absolutely nothing and is to be watched carefully while first-time starter (4) MAJOR ANGEL trialled up well. Watch the betting market with that one.

Selections (10) Nina (3) Thunder Struck (6) Fast Away (4) Major Angel
Next Best 7, 11, 9
Fast Start 3, 6, 11

Race 3: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 55 Million

Six first time starters take on six who have raced once before and unusually for this kind of race, it is one of the newcomers who will be favourite. (1) LUCKY KOREA is from the track’s top stable and looked good when winning a trial earlier this month. She’ll be expected to lead all the way. Among the other debut-makers, (6) SINBIHAN BYEOL looks the best while of those who have raced before, the logical pick is (12) TANGY BITE. He was a solid 2nd on debut on December 1st and should be able to at least repeat that today. (5) YUHWI and (7) ICE LEG are others who can improve on their initial efforts.

Selections (1) Lucky Korea (12) Tangy Bite (6) Sinbihan Byeol (5) Yuhwi
Next Best 7, 9, 8
Fast Start 1, 8, 11

Race 4: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(9) GAMUNUI YEONGGWANG has beaten a fair few of these across his latest two starts in which he’s come home 3rd and 4th. He’s never been sent off at anything shorter than 12/1 but looks the one to beat in this very modest contest. (4) JANGHAN JILJU beat (5) DAEHO MYEONGGA as the pair raced 3rd and 6th over this distance on November 17th. That was disappointing from the well-supported Daeho Myeongga, who had shown ability (more…)

Chairman Lee Yang Ho Leaves The KRA

Korea Racing Authority Chairman Lee Yang Ho has formally stepped down from his position after a year at the helm of the nation’s sole racing authority.

Lee Yang Ho finish

Outgoing Chairman Lee Yang Ho bids farewell to KRA staff following a leaving ceremony at Seoul Racecourse on Wednesday (Pic: KRA)

Lee, a career civil servant in the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development Administration prior to being appointed to the top job at the KRA, is reported to be leaving in order to run for political office having been nominated as a candidate for the upcoming Mayoral election in his home city of Gumi, North Gyeongsang Province.

Since Lee made his decision known in November, Korean media have reported that his replacement is likely to be Kim Nak Soon, a former National Assembly member.

Seoul Sunday: Race-By-Race Preview (December 17)

Busan takes a weekend off so there’s a bumper 15-race Sunday card at Seoul Racecourse. The first race is at 10:45 and the last is at 18:00. Here are the previews: 

Race 1: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

(4) CUPID DOCTOR has been getting closer and closer across three starts so far and managed a good 2nd place over this distance on November 12th. She should get a fast start in this all-filly race and lead all the way. Probably the banker favourite all day. (1) POX RANGER and (5) KYU JEU came home 3rd and 4th at the distance on November 18th. It was a big improvement for Pox Ranger although Kyu Jeu had already shown some ability and both look in with a shout here. The time before that, Kyu Jeu beat (9) RAON MIRACLE but she too showed improvement next start, landing a good – albeit not very fast – 3rd place at this distance.

Selections (4) Cupid Doctor (5) Kyu Jeu (9) Raon Miracle (1) Pox Ranger
Next Best 6, 2
Fast Start 4, 3, 5, 9

Race 2: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

Small field of juveniles here but it contains a few who have shown promise already. (2) LEONNING STROM is top pick having been a good 2nd on debut at 1000M last month. He ran on nicely and should do well over the increased trip today. (5) VICTORY STAR looked good in two outings in September and October. She trialled up in good shape too in November and can go well. As can (7) LET’S YEONGCHEON, a creditable 3rd on debut four weeks ago. The modestly named (3) BRILLIANT and the more complex-named (6) NAEGA KKEUTPANWANG also have potential to improve.

Selections (2) Leonning Strom (5) Victory Star (7) Let’s Yeongcheon (3) Brilliant
Next Best 6
Fast Start 2, 6

Race 3: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

Ten juveniles here with four of them racing for the first time. (3) CHEON MONG only managed to finish in 6th place on debut on November 19th but it was in a well-run race in a strong time and he just about gets the nod to win here. Fellow experienced ones (5) DALLYEORA RAON and (7) INDIAN ECO may also improve on their debuts but it is to the debut-makers that we turn to find the bigger dangers. (9) LUCKY ROOKIE won his trial last month and gets a top jockey on here so will be backed while Hansen filly (2) SILVER DESIGN also held her own in her trial and can go well in what is a nice race to debut in.

Selections (3) Cheon Mong (9) Lucky Rookie (5) Dallyeora Raon (2) Silver Design
Next Best 7
Fast Start 3, 6, 9

Race 4: Class 4 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 75 Million

Three of these juveniles come in having come close to getting their maiden wins last time out and all three will be supported to achieve it today. The one with the best chance is (9) FLYING BOSS, who while well beaten by a good winner last time, has shown plenty of potential. He drops to the minimum distance for the first time today and can go very well. (2) RICHARDOFNEWSTEAD has led both his races so far, only to get taken down in the closing stages. He’ll surely be on the early pace again and could well hang on this time. (4) PARK SOCKS was 2nd on debut at this distance and will have plenty of backers too. He was beaten that day by (5) SUN LIGHTING, who went on to have a hard time in a valuable race over 1200M a month ago, weakening late on. Back in trip and in more amenable company today, he’ll be a big threat.

Selections (9) Flying Boss (5) Sun Lighting (2) Richardofnewstead (4) Park Socks
Next Best 1, 11
Fast Start 2, 3, 5, 6, 9

Race 5: Class 6 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

Small field and it’s hard to look much further than (1) ROYAL TANK, who showed improvement when put up to this distance three weeks ago running 2nd in what was admittedly not a strong race. Neither is this though and a similar run today should see him home on top. The rest of them will need to find plenty with (8) UPDATE probably best placed to step up. He ran ok on his previous try at the distance and while he is (more…)

Seoul Saturday: Race-By-Race Preview (December 16)

There are a couple of new foreign trainers in town and one of them, Luigo Riccardi, saddles his first runner at Seoul on Saturday afternoon. There are 11 Saturday races in the Korean capital from 10:45 to 18:00.

The 49-year-old Italian trainer Riccardi sends out Choego Money in race 10 and the gelding looks to have an excellent chance under Djordje Perovic. Here are the previews:

Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

(8) PRIMO already has a 2nd place to her name and comes in off the back of a reasonable enough 5th place in what looks to have been a tougher contest than this last time and she has as good a chance as any here, likely from the front. (1) NONGBON DAERO has improved across three starts so far and has cope for more today while (6) IRYEO HAYEO, beaten by Primo on debut doesn’t look completely devoid of talent either. There are three debut-makers, two of whom will be backed. Moon Se Young riding means inevitable support for (2) SPEED HWANGNYONG but (9) NEUL SACHAN looks more convincing having comfortably won a trial last month.

Selections (8) Primo (9) Neul Sachan (1) Nongbon Daero (6) Iryeo Hayeo
Next Best 2, 11
Fast Start 4, 5, 7, 8

Race 2: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

Small field of maiden juveniles here but most have already shown a bit of potential. (3) EAST KINGDOM and (6) THE FINAL both came home in 3rd place on their respective debuts. Neither was well-backed but both showed enough to suggest they can push on here. It’s also fair to say that neither were particular quick so we’re going with (2) FLYING HERA, 5th on debut at this distance on November 4th to score here. She showed a strong finish that day and can come from just behind the early leaders. (7) SOU WARRIOR and (8) CHAPEL ACE not to be discounted either.

Selections (2) Flying Hera (6) The Final (3) East Kingdom (7) Sou Warrior
Next Best 8
Fast Start 7, 8

Race 3: Class 4 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million

Fillies only here and (9) EAST GULCH will be a strong favourite. She’s been 2nd in both her outings to date, beating three of these last time and really should be leading this one gate to wire. (3) CHEON YANG is a capable type who could give the favourite some problems although as a closer, the distance may not be the best. (1) BEST YEJI steps back in trip and can go better today while (10) PERFECT BIC C landed back to back wins over (more…)

Power Blade’s Grand Prix The Best Yet

On Sunday, we probably saw the best Grand Prix Stakes we ever have. The 2015 edition, won by Bold Kings, was outstanding, while for those of us who go in for that sort of thing, Tough Win’s 2011 victory over fellow “troika” members, Mister Park and Smarty Moonhak will always be special, even if the race itself wasn’t that exciting.  Power Blade’s victory this year, on the other hand, was in a race that involved a win by a genuine star in a contest that wasn’t settled until the final stride.

Power Blade Grand Prix Fnish1

Power Blade wins the Grand Prix (Pic: KRA)

Cheongdam Dokki, the three-year-old favourite, set a pace that was quite brutal by Korean standards. In a Grand Prix Stakes, only Ugildongja in 2009 and Beolmaui Kkum in 2014 had set anything close to his early sectionals – and both finished well back in their respective fields. Cheongdam Dokki didn’t. The final time of Power Blade broke the 2300M track record by over a second and was precisely three seconds quicker than the fastest previous Grand Prix – the aforementioned 2009 edition, which was won by Dongbanui Gangja.

The horses who went with Cheongdam Dokki – or at least tried to – simply had nothing left for the closing stages; Diferent Dimension, Dynamic Dash and last to succumb, Silver Wolf, fading through the pack. The only one who kept pace early and had something to offer was the outstanding Triple Nine. Lim Sung Sil, possibly fearing that Cheongdam Dokki was simply too good, began to get after Triple Nine as they began the long turn for home, a full four-furlongs out, in order to keep up with the leader. At the same time Oh Kyung Hwan on Power Blade and Park Jae I on Dongbang Daero opted to save energy and allowed their mounts a more leisurely trip, ultimately paying huge dividends in the closing stages.

It is therefore perhaps testament to the sheer ability of Triple Nine and the huge potential of Cheongdam Dokki that they still managed to finish 3rd and 4th respectively after such stiff early efforts. Less than three lengths separated the winner and 5th placed Buhwarui Banseok.

Power Blade Grand Prix Winners Circle

Power Blade in the Grand Prix winner’s circle (Pic: KRA)

Dongbang Daero had finished 3rd behind Saengil Gippeum in what was a trial for the Grand Prix over 2200M at Busan at the beginning of November. Saengil Gippeum blew them away that day but Dongbang Daero had finished the quickest, running on very nicely to become involved in a finish in which there was just half a length separating 2nd and 6th. Buhwarui Banseok was also involved in that finish and he too ran on very well on Sunday.

Last year’s winner Clean Up Joy didn’t look the part before the race and never really featured, ending up in 7th place.

It became clear around two furlongs out that Cheongdam Dokki wasn’t going to be able to keep things up the whole way around. Triple Nine got first crack at him but Power Blade and Dongbang Daero simply had too much in reserve and Power Blade’s class saw him home by a Head on the line.

It is a shame that neither Triple Nine nor Power Blade will be returning to the Dubai World Cup Carnival as both look eminently capable of winning a race this time around. Connections have other plans, however, and hopefully they’ll get a nice long rest through the worst of the winter – although in all honesty, it would be no surprise to see one or other lining up in a nondescript Class 1 handicap come February. The pair of them have been such good ambassadors for Korean racing over the past three seasons, that they went overseas even once is something we can be grateful for. That trip, plus their showings in the Korea Cup and Sprint demonstrated that the pair of them could hold their own to a good (not elite, but good) standard anywhere.

Trainer Kim Young Kwan can divide opinions, but there can be no denying that when a horse of his comes out to run in a big race, his team will have it in peak condition and Triple Nine and Power Blade are the epitome of this – Triple Nine’s Godolphin Mile aside (and he was in desperate need of a spell then), they never seem to have an off-day.

Both now have claims to be the top Korean-bred horse ever. Power Blade’s Triple Crown and Grand Prix matching up with Triple Nine’s President’s Cup hat-trick. Their prize money earnings are almost identical with both breaking the 3 Billion Won barrier at the Grand Prix.  They’ve raced each other seven times now with Triple Nine leading the head-to-head by 4 to 3  – although Power Blade has now won three of their last four meetings.

We head into 2018 with plenty to be excited about on track. Cheongdam Dokki’s development along with the pair who ultimately didn’t run in the Grand Prix, Dolkong and New Citadel. Then there is the emergence of a new domestic three-year-old crop which looks stronger than this year’s. Still on top for now though are Power Blade and Triple Nine and next year they will still only be five and six-years-old.