Grand Prix Stakes 2017: Full Preview

It’s the big one. The Grand Prix Stakes 2017 is here and 3yo potential phenom Cheongdam Dokki will clash with Triple Nine, Power Blade, Clean Up Joy and a host of the biggest names in Korean racing in the season-ending showpiece at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon (see the rundown on those four horses in the video below if you can get past my ridiculous bow-tie):

While the no-show of New Citadel and Dolkong is disappointing, this Grand Prix still has the potential to be special. Is Cheongdam Dokki as good as some think he is? Can Triple Nine finally win a Grand Prix at the third attempt? Can Clean Up Joy recover from his defeat at the hands of Cheongdam Dokki to retain the crown? Or perhaps something else can win. Favourites rarely win the Grand Prix with the unfamiliar distance and the time of year contributing to lots of uncertainty at each edition.

Cheongdam Dokki and Triple Nine look set to dispute favouritism with Power Blade and Clean Up Joy likely to be next best in the market. But there are plenty of wildcards. Queens’ Tour winner Silver Wolf takes her chance while the likes of Saengil Gippeum and Diferent Dimension should relish the opportunity to have a go at this distance. Buhwarui Banseok and Champ Line are not without their merits either. Dongbang Daero, Dynamic Dash and Cheonjeok round out a high class field. The race starts at 4.40pm Korea time and is available for betting on the PMU in Europe, TAB in Australia, and most ADW’s in the United States as well as at the turf clubs in Singapore and Malysia.

1 TRIPLE NINE (KOR) Having finished 4th in the Korea Cup in September and then suffering his second reverse to Power Blade, he came back into form to win his third straight President’s Cup last month, defeating his stablemate in the process. He can take a long time to hit top-gear but we know this distance can suit. 4th in 2015 and 2nd last year, it’s not impossible he could finish on top this time. Interesting – and perhaps not ideal – draw.
2 DYNAMIC DASH (USA) 7th behind Saengil Gippeum last month having led early on and 3rd behind Diferent Dimension the time before that. It’s been a long time since the most recent of his nine career wins and he’ll be one of the outsiders here.
3 SAENGIL GIPPEUM (USA) An excellent seven-length winner of Busan’s trial for this race over 2200M on November 5th brings him into contention. He was beaten by Diferent Dimension the time before but the manner of his win last time does warrant consideration for a surprise here. Unlikely to lead early but will probably be not too far from the pace.
4 DIFERENT DIMENSION (USA) Managed a 3rd place on turf at this year’s Dubai World Cup Carnival and returned to the winner’s circle in Busan over 2000M on October 22nd, making all over 2000M and beating Saengil Gippeum. Missed out on an intended run in this race last year, the distance should suit and a placing finish is possible. Generally leads or races very close to the early lead.
5 CHAMP LINE (KOR) Trained by Thomas Gillespie. Won five consecutive races up to April but has just gone gold a little since. Still 4th place last time behind Saengil Gippeum gives cause for optimism that form is on the up.
6 DONGBANG DAERO (USA) 8th in this race last yeat, he’s only won once since then but is rarey too far away. 3rd behind Saengil Gippeum at 2200M last month and an outside chance of cneaking into the money here. Recently, his running style has been to close.
7 SILVER WOLF (AUS) She won all three legs of the Queens’ Tour to become champion filly/mare this year, easily winning the finale over 2000M. She showed her versatility too with 5th place in the Korea Sprint. Obviously, today’s test is a stiff one but she’s well drawn to get close to the early lead and looks to be the wildcard. Stablemate of Clean Up Joy.
8 CHEONGDAM DOKKI (USA) The one to beat. Seven from eleven in total and winner of his last four including a comprehensive demolition of Clean Up Joy in the KRA Cup Classic. He hasn’t always been the most straightforward of colts but has behaved better in his last two. He’s won those latest four gate to wire and despite the increased distance it would be a surprise were he not to try to dominate this too. It’s not easy to do that in December in Seoul but he looks good enough.
9 BUHWARUI BANSEOK (USA) A slightly disappointing 6th behind Saengil Gippeum over 2200M last month but this is a very solid class 1 colt. First time at the distance and first time at Seoul. Tactically versatile, he’s trained by South African Bart Rice and should give a good account of himself.
10 CHEONJEOK (USA) 13th in last year’s race and the lowest rated this year and likely to be the outsider. 5 wins from 51, the most recent of those being in March. Last of 8 behind Cheongdam Dokki in the KRA Cup Classic in October. Top jockey booking though.
11 POWER BLADE (KOR) The 2016 Korean Triple Crown winner and Group 2 placed in Dubai. 2nd in the Korea Sprint to a Japanese horse, he beat Triple Nine at both 1400M and 1600M at Busan before coming up short in the President’s Cup here at Seoul over 2000M last month. 3rd in this race last year. Jockey change today – he is a tough ride – and while the distance may not be ideal, he can never be ruled out.
12 CLEAN UP JOY (USA) Last year’s winner. He began this year with three consecutive victories but then struggled in Busan in the Mayor’s Cup in July. He was a well-beaten 3rd behind Cheongdam Dokki in October’s KRA Cup Classic but by no means ran badly. He remains a strong horse and certainly can’t be ruled out but it could be that a couple of others have just got a bit better in the meantime. He will come out of the widest gate by request of his trainer.

Selections: (8) Cheongdam Dokki (1) Triple Nine (11) Power Blade (12) Clean Up Joy

Next Best: 7, 3, 4

Fast Start: 3, 4, 8

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