Month: February 2018

Sunday Seoul & Busan: Race-By-Race Preview (February 25)

A big day’s racing on Sunday at both Seoul and Busan. Seoul has 11 races from 10:45 to 18:00 while at Busan there are 6 contests from 12:40 to 17:05. Here are the previews:

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

(8) HAPPY MAUNTAIN ran 2nd on debut four weeks ago and while he was beaten a long way by a very handy winner, he showed enough to suggest he knows what he’s doing and he’s the pick to see off this field which is comprised six debut-makers and six who have just run once each. (9) HANSEN VOLT and (10) DONGBANG JIJU both also hinted at some kind of ability on their respective debuts and while neither were fast, they can improve here. Among the first-time starters, (12) FRENCH STAR looked the most convincing in trials. As ever with the debut-makers, watch the market.

Selections (8) Happy Mauntain (9) Hansen Volt (12) French Star (10) Dongbang Jiju
Next Best 3, 11
Fast Start 2, 10, 12

Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

Fillies only here and (8) MORAN DONGBEAK finished well to pick off three of her rivals here when running 4th over 1000M on January 27th. She gets an overdue bump up in trip here for the first time and it could well pay dividends. (2) CHOM NIA has raced at this distance before and while it didn’t go especially well, a decent 2nd back at 1000M last month when she ran on well through the line suggests she may go better this time. (10) BANGGEUT BANGGEUT too ran on nicely on debut at the minimum distance before running out of track and could also appreciate the extended trip today. (12) IRYEO HAYEO has run over 1300M before and did well at it. She came 3rd on January 21st in a very similar contest to this and should be looking to at least repeat. (7) MAGGIEUI CHUEOG is another to consider.

Selections (8) Moran Dongbeak (2) Chom Nia (12) Iryeo Hayeo (10) Banggeut Banggeut
Next Best 7, 5
Fast Start 2, 3, 6

Seoul Race 3: Class 5 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

Tricky contest this. (4) JEJUI BARAM was an all-the-way winner in an all-filly race on debut at the distance on January 6th. She is up in class here but the competition is not especially intimidating and she could well win again. (10) THE QUEEN GRACE was such an eye-catching winner on her own debut last September that she was entered in a big juvenile race the following month. It didn’t go well as while she was prominent early, she faded to beat only one home in the Gwacheon Mayor’s Cup. She returned though to run 2nd on her season debut a month ago, back at 1000M and she should be a threat. Half a length behind The Queen Grace last time was (11) ROYAL ACE and he can aim to match that here while (1) GALAXY POWER and the up in class (12) GEOSEON MAPUNG both have potential at this distance.

Selections (4) Jejui Baram (10) The Queen Grace (1) Galaxy Power (11) Royal Ace
Next Best 12, 3
Fast Start 1, 4, 5, 10

Seoul Race 4: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

(1) GEUMBIRANG was a much-improved 2nd on what was his third outing on January 14th. He’s a slow starter but a strong finisher and while it is perhaps surprising he’s dropped back slightly in trip today, he can still win. (3) RAON SIRIUS hasn’t been too far away in each of his three outings to date and can go close here. He’s well drawn to get on the early lead and could go all the way. (5) FLYING JOY didn’t go well on debut over 1300M but was much improved when dropped back to the minimum on reappearance last month. Moon Se Young being on board for the first time will enhance his appeal among punters. (10) BARAM KING likewise showed signs of improvement in his second (more…)

Saturday Seoul: Race-By-Race Preview (February 24)

Racing returns to the Korean capital on Saturday with a big 12-race card at Seoul. The first race is at 10:45 and the last at 18:00. It’s going to be a mild day so come racing! Here are the previews:


It’s not quite Spring but we’re not far away now!

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

Three-year-old fillies only to begin with and exactly half of the field are racing for the very first time with the other half each having raced just the once or in one case, twice. It’s from that latter group where the top picks come from with both (3) BIG THUNDER and (10) RAON PRIMER having shown ability. Big Thunder has raced twice and while indifferent on debut, she ran well for 2nd on her reappearance on January 27th and will be favourite to win here. Raon Primer led for much of her debut on January 20th and while she’s drawn wider today, she can still get to the front and should be the main danger. With none of the others who have raced before having shown much we’ll look for the newcomers to fill out our tickets. Best looking in trials was (7) SUPER YEOWANG and she will be expected to be on the early speed too while (9) BRAVO ILSIN and (12) LEADER’S CAMP are others who ran well in their heats and may be considered.

Selections (3) Big Thunder (10) Raon Primer (7) Super Yeowang (12) Leader’s Camp
Next Best 9, 2
Fast Start 4, 7, 10, 12

Race 2: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

A maiden restricted to three-year-olds. (11) DREAM INDY hasn’t been especially well fancied in either of his two starts to date but he’s outperformed expectations both times with a 3rd and a 2nd, the latest being a front-running performance over this distance on January 21st. He led for much of that race only succumbing in the closing stages and while he’s drawn much wider today, he can go close. (3) WILD DRAGON may have a better shout of getting on the early pace though. He’s also shown improvement across three outings and was a close 3rd last time at the distance. (5) GARA GARA GA was a creditable 4th on debut a full eleven weeks ago and returns here up in distance but for a stable and a jockey who went into the brief Lunar New Year break in good form. (7) EMERALD KING and (8) BAEKDUUI JEONGSANG, the latter a good 3rd in a similar race at the distance three weeks ago are also in the hunt.

Selections (11) Dream Indy (3) Wild Dragon (7) Emerald King (5) Gara Gara Ga
Next Best 8, 6
Fast Start 3, 4

Race 3: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

Fillies (and three mares) only here and (4) MIRACLE HANSEN caught the eye, to say the least, when romping home on debut over this distance on December 23rd in a decent time on a very slow-running track. She hasn’t raced since and returns today up in class but with little reason to oppose her.  However, if we do wish to take her on, (9) VICTORY STAR looks the best prospect. She’s yet to win in four attempts but ran well for 2nd in a similar race to this on January 14th and can at least repeat. An alternative would be the more experienced (10) DALDARI although her best two results – her win and her 2nd place last start – both came at 1000M. (2) DONGSEO GADEUK is a winner at the distance, albeit at class 6 – (1) BAEKDU MIR was a close 2nd that day – and may come under consideration too.

Selections (4) Miracle Hansen (9) Victory Star (10) Daldari (2) Dongseo Gadeuk
Next Best 1, 7
Fast Start 3, 4, 8, 9

Race 4: Class 4 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million

Fillies again but a more competitive looking contest which could go a number of ways. (3) SMARTY ZIF was a surprise 2nd in a useful event at class and distance on January 14th. She’s been inconsistent across her ten starts but could go well again. Running a touch disappointingly in that race was (4) WAWA YEOJANGBU but she has shown her competitiveness at this level with a 2nd place at the distance the time before and can reverse the form here. (2) CHEON YANG and (9) FIRE FOX came home 2nd and 3rd over (more…)

Busan Friday: Race-By-Race Preview (February 23)

We’re back after the extended Lunar New Year break and accordingly it’s big fields at Busan as the weekend’s racing gets underway on Friday. 11 races from 11:30 to 18:00. Here are the previews:

Busan Racecourse winning line

Busan is back!

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

Three-year-old fillies to kick things off with today and a competitive contest too. (3) CHEOLBI and (4) STAR WOMAN are the ones who come in with convincing form behind them. Cheolbi’s 2nd last time was at this distance while Star Woman’s 3rd was at 1000M but in perhaps marginally stronger company. Both should be involved today with Star Woman likely to try to lead from the gate. The one they will need to overcome will also be on speed early and that’s (10) SWEET PARK. Having won a trial in December, she was well-backed on debut last month and while she only managed to finish 3rd, she should have come on for that and can be strongly in the frame here. (7) JANGSEONGUI JILJU and first-timer starter (11) MYEONG GONGJU are others to consider.

Selections (10) Sweet Park (3) Cheolbi (4) Star Woman (7) Jangseongui Jilju
Next Best 11, 12
Fast Start 1, 4, 10, 12

Race 2: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million 

(2) GREAT ROCK is Triple Nine’s full-brother (one of many and they’ve all been pretty good). He’s come up a little short in two starts so far with a 4th and a 2nd before having to be scratched with a minor abrasion prior to what would have been his latest on February 2nd. From a favourable draw today, we’ll be looking for him to get out and on pace early and to make it third time lucky. There are threats. (5) SAKISAKI has shown promise in back to back 3rd place finishes. She raced most ungenerously last time hanging outwards for much of the way around but still got into the money and with better manners this time can get even closer. (8) CHEONHA GAMDONG and (10) BAENGNYEON DAERO both ran 3rd on their respective debuts last month and can continue their positive starts here while (7) BIG RED IJI has shown signs of figuring things out with consecutive 4th place finishes in decent enough races for this level.

Selections (2) Great Rock (5) Sakisaki (10) Baengnyeon Daero (7) Big Red Iji
Next Best 8, 3
Fast Start 2, 3

Race 3: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

Competitive looking contest here and there are a couple who look ready to win. Both (1) SEORABEOL YEOJE and (3) DANCING VICAR come in having gone close in recent starts and with champion jockey Jo In Kwen taking the mount for the first time, we’ll side with the more experienced Seorabeol Yeoje to make the breakthrough ahead of Dancing Vicar, who is racing at this distance for the first time. (5) PEACE TOUR was 4th, a length behind Seorabeol Yeoje, last start and can get close while (7) DAEHO MYEONGGA has hinted at having some talent and returns from a nine-week layoff. He went through two trials earlier this month and looked decent enough to compete here. An intriguing first-time starter is (10) JAZZ BAND. He’s a full-brother to 2013 Grand Prix Stakes winner Indie Band and 2015 Minister’s Cup winner Rock Band. It’s taken him to four-years-old to make his debut and he wasn’t exactly impressive in trials but there’s no doubting his pedigree.

Selections (1) Seorabeol Yeoje (3) Dancing Vicar (5) Peace Tour (10) Jazz Band
Next Best 7, 2, 6
Fast Start 1, 3, 7

Race 4: Class 6 (1600M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

After a couple of indifferent performances in his first two outings, (12) MABEOPUI JILJU thrived when sent up to this distance for the first time on January 26th, running a close 2nd to the very promising Air Blade and it would be a surprise were Bart Rice’s gelding not to go one better here. Running 3rd that day was the one-paced but honest (5) BULMYEORUIMARIPGAN and he can pass plenty late on to possibly finish on the board once more, however, the main danger is likely to be (8) CHOEGANG STEALTH. Like the favourite, he too was beaten by Air Blade on his latest start, back on New Year’s Eve, when he was 3rd over 1300M. He’s shown ability at this distance in the past and can get (more…)

Silver Wolf Strolls To Donga Ilbo Cup Win

Silver Wolf was the dominant filly or mare of 2017, sweeping all three legs of the Queens’ Tour and she got her six-year-old win underway in the best possible fashion with a dominant win in the Donga Ilbo Cup. In doing so, it gave Djordje Perovic a Listed winner on the Serbian jockey’s last day at Seoul before leaving on an extended sabbatical to recover from a back injury. 

It was always going to be a mismatch.  Just eight fillies and mares opted to take her on over the 1800M, a mix of slightly faded talents and not quite up there prospects. Perovic brought Silver Wolf to the lead at the top of the stretch and the pair eased away from the field for an easy nine-length victory.  43/1 outsider Lead Money came home 2nd with 38/1 Chang Se in 3rd.

Australian-bred SIlver Wolf (Orotorio) has now won 10 of her 21 career starts, three of them Graded Stakes races (the Queens’ Tour last year) and now two Listed (adding to the Munhwa Ilbo Cup last autumn). It was only as a five-year-old last year that she really showed her ability and while she is now too old to run in the Queens’ Tour races, she will surely be a danger in other big races, especially at sprint distances.

As for the other “wolf”, Djordje Perovic; known as “The Balkan Wolf” has been suffering from a back injury for some time and the constant grind that goes with being a top freelance jockey in Korea makes recovery very difficult. While it’s true there are only two race days each week, a freelancer is expected to ride an awful lot of track-work six days a week if he wishes to ride in the races – din’t ride the work and you don’t ride the race. It’s the same for the top local jockeys with Moon Se Young speaking last year about how it is increasingly hard to do.


Moon Se Young (left) & Djordje Perovic embrace after the last at Seoul on Sunday 

Perovic would go on to ride the final two winners on the card too, finishing off with Choegang Schiller (Artie Schiller) beating Another Smart One (Smarty Jones) in the class 1 finale. Moon Se Young was on the runner-up and the pair shook hands after the line. Their rivalry over the past three years has brought another aspect to racing at Seoul and with any luck, it will be renewed when Perovic returns which, if all goes well, could be around Korea Cup time.

Sunday Seoul & Busan: Donga Ilbo Cup Race-By-Race Preview (February 10)

Silver Wolf was last year’s Champion Mare and she returns to action at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday when she is expected to start a strong favourite in the Donga Ilbo Cup over 1800M. She will be ridden by Djordje Perovic, making his last appearance at Seoul for at least the time being as he seeks to recover from a back injury. There are 11 races at Seoul from 10:45 to 18:00 and 6 at Busan from 12:40 to 17:05. Here are the previews (only Seoul is on overseas simulcast this week): 

Silver Wolf Munhwa

Djordje Perovic & Silver Wolf will attempt to win the Donga Ilbo Cup on the Serbian jockey’s last day at Seoul (Pic: KRA)

Race 1: Class 5 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

A winner at class 6 over 1300M in December, (7) LEONNING STROM was 3rd on his first try at this level in a stiffer contest than this on January 13th having led for most of the race. He drops back to the minimum today and will be expected to win. (9) SUN BOLT was an all the way winner on debut on January 7th. He’s up in class here but if he gets off to the same kind of start he did that day, then he has a big chance. (2) MYEONGPUM BOBAE remains winless but steps back to the minimum today having weakened in both her latest two over further and she should be close. Back on Myeongpum Bobae’s debut, she was 2nd to (6) LUCKY MISS. The latter has only raced once since – a full thirteen weeks ago – and is worthy of another chance. (10) MAGIC AI returns to action for the first time in nine months and performed pleasingly enough in a January trial to come straight into placing contention.

Selections (7) Leonning Strom (9) Sun Bolt (2) Myeongpum Bobae (10) Magic Ai
Next Best 6, 12
Fast Start 2, 5, 6, 9

Race 2: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

Both (6) KWAEHAN YEBONGSAN and (10) AMARONE are up in class having registered their maiden wins, both at this distance, on their respective last starts. This all-filly/mare contest is not a strong one and both can be expected to go well with Amarone slightly favoured to prevail. She’ll likely try to come from just behind the early speed which will probably be set by Kwaehan Yebongsa. Form doesn’t read well for the rest of them so we’re looking for one who finds herself in a better spot today than in recent outings. Punters will turn to (11) CHUKBOGUI YEOLMAE who comes in following a series of 4th and 5th place finishes in slightly sterner company and can benefit from the services of Moon Se Young today. (1) ARABIA GONGJU and (7) JASEONG GUNJU are others who fit the criteria for improvement here.

Selections (10) Amarone (6) Kwaehan Yebongsan (11) Chukbogui Yeolmae (1) Arabia Gongju
Next Best 7, 3
Fast Start 3, 6, 9

Race 3: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(2)  DUAL CHOEGANG makes his first start for Italian trainer Luigi Riccardi and it could very well be a winning one. The four-year-old had been getting closer culminating in a 2nd place, just beaten a neck, at the distance in December. That wasn’t a very strong race, but this isn’t much stiffer, and he should win. (11) JEJUI HEUKSEON was sent off as favourite in a similar contest to this back on January 14th. He briefly touched the front about a furlong out before being beaten into 4th and he may well provide the biggest test today. We’re struggling with the rest though. (3) LAST CONCERT has a 5th place finish to her name in similar company in December and while she hardly impressed on return last month, she could go well here. (6) VALLEY MOON and (12) BAEKDU POWER best of a limited rest.

Selections (2) Dual Choegang (11) Jejui Heukseon (3) Last Concert (6) Valley Moon
Next Best 12, 1
Fast Start 4, 5, 8

Race 4: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

Three of these raced each other at class and distance on January 13th. (2) BOLD SHINING finished the best of them in 2nd with (1) BACK TO BACK in 4th (the pair of them split by Leonning Strom who we saw in race 1) and (4) HAENGUN NURI 5th. Back To Back began the race as favourite on the strength od a very solid December win over 1200M that got him promoted in class although Bold Shining also entered a winner. We’re going to go for the form to be overturned today and for Back To Back to be on top. (3) MACHA BUCHA comes in following a useful 4th place over 1300M two weeks ago and will likely set the (more…)

Seoul Saturday: Race-By-Race Preview (February 10)

There are 12 Saturday races in Seoul with the first at 10:45 and the last at 18:00. Here are the previews:

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

A maiden for three-year-olds to begin with and there is an interesting first-time starter in the shape of (1) JILPUNG GANGJA. Progeny of a sire and dam who both ran in Korea so he was never going to be a sales-topper but his half-brother performed well in three starts and he certainly looked good himself when easily winning a trial last month. The track was very slow that day and we’ll not read too much into it but he showed enough to suggest he can be taken seriously here. It may be best to side with experience though and (9) J.S. STORM (whose sire and dam also both ran in Korea) comes in off a 2nd and 3rd from his latest two and surely goes close again. (8) SEOUL STORY parted company with his jockey on leaving the gates when well-fancied two weeks ago and will be backed again while (4) GIGA LIGHT and (10) ACE CANT are others who can improve.

Selections (9) J.S. Storm (1) Jilpung Gangja (8) Seoul Story (4) Giga Light
Next Best 10, 6, 7
Fast Start 1, 5, 8, 9

Race 2: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

Another set of three-year-olds here and not much experience between them. A few have already caught the eye though. (6) CAMP TOUCH came close to winning over the distance on what was her second start a month ago, just being beaten a nose having been on pace throughout and with a good start, she can go close once more. Also expected to be away well is (4) VICAR SCOOP, a solid 3rd on debut a month ago and likely to improve. (9) JEONGSANG MUJEOK has been 3rd on both her two starts so far and there is no reason why she can’t repeat. The name suggests we might want to take a watching brief with (1) WAIT AND SEE, but he looked good in a trial and Moon Se Young riding will tempt plenty.

Selections (6) Camp Touch (4) Vicar Scoop (1) Wait And See (9) Jeongsang Mujeok
Next Best 8, 7
Fast Start 1, 4, 6, 7

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

(12) GANGTOMA was a good 2nd on debut on January 13th. He ran on well and the step up in trip today should suit. (4) SPECIAL WINNER beat (3) DORAON ACHIM HAE and (7) SHARK DAEJANGGEUN at the distance in early January before going on to run 3rd in a similar contest three weeks ago. All three should be in the hunt here with Doran Achim Hae most favoured for improvement. (2) BODEURAM and (9) KING POSE have both shown glimpses of talent and may improve today.

Selections (12) Gangtoma (3) Doran Achim Hae (4) Special Winner (2) Bodeuram
Next Best 9, 7
Fast Start 1, 3, 4, 11

Race 4: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(3) DUSON WANGJA came up short when favourite at this distance three weeks ago, ending up in 4th place having failed to quicken when well placed. It wasn’t a bad run though and he’s shown enough ability over his four starts to date to be given another chance here. (1) NAEGA KKEUTPANWANG and (8) STRONG CAPTAIN ran 3rd and 6th respectively when they raced each other over the distance on January 14th and the former especially looks nicely in for at least a repeat. (2) CITY ANGEL steps up in trip for (more…)

Busan Olympic Friday: Race-By-Race Preview (February 9)

It’s Friday February 9, 2018 and the eyes of the world are on  Korea  as one of the greatest sporting events on the planet gets underway. Yes, it’s Friday racing at Busan! 11 races from 11:30 to 18:00. Here are the previews:

Park Tae Jong torch

The flame that jockey Park Tae Jong carried last month has almost reached its destination


Busan Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

Very tricky maiden to kick things off with plenty who’ve shown glimpses of promise but haven’t yet delivered. There was almost a year between (12) STORM GOLD’s third and fourth starts but he returned two weeks ago to run a good 4th at this distance. He was drawn wide that day too and if he can get a good start, can go close. (4) SAEROUN BARAM has been 4th in both his two outings. While he hasn’t been the quickest out of the gates, he’s run on well both times and can continue to improve here. Continuing the theme of coming home 4th in latest outings is the trio of (2) SAEROUN BOMUL, (6) EDGE OF WINNER and (8) GRACIELA with the latter of them impressing the most last time.

Selections (4) Saeroun Baram (12) Storm Gold (8) Graciela (2) Saeroun Bomul
Next Best 6, 1
Fast Start 2, 9, 12

Busan Race 2: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

A maiden restricted to three-year-old fillies. We’ve got a potentially exciting debut-maker among them too with (11) S S YOUNG set to be favourite having coasted through a January trial looking very competent. She’s a half-sister to Hangang Ruby, who won five of twelve starts a few years back and while nether he, nor the dam’s other foals, had especially long careers they began well, and S S Young can too. All the others have raced at least once before with (10) GRAY STORM coming in off consecutive 3rd place finishes and looking good to at least repeat. (6) BAEKDU MYEONGWOL was a creditable 5th on debut three weeks ago and can build on that here while (3) NEVER LAND and (7) TOP EURO should also be in the frame. The latter of those stepped up to 1300M last time and struggled but should be happier today.

Selections (11) S S Young (10) Gray Storm (6) Baekdu Myeongwol (3) Never Land
Next Best 7, 12, 4
Fast Start 4, 7, 8, 11

Busan Race 3: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

Five of the twelve raced each other over this distance on January 12th with the best of them being (2) FAST AWAY, who finished 2nd a full five lengths clear of the rest. He seems to have started to figure things out in his latest three and should indeed be fast away here on to the early pace and can go all the way. (6) HEUGSEOL GONGJU was the one who was 3rd that day, finishing in that position for the second time in five outings and she can place once more. (11) WONDERFUL MEMORY’s two starts so far have been in stiffer company than this and he will be expected to improve. (8) TESTA MAGIC went reasonably well over a mile last time and comes in fresh after nine weeks off with chances to improve. (12) ACE FORCE also drops back in trip following a solid 4th at a mile just two weeks ago. He’s expected to be on speed early and can compete.

Selections (2) Fast Away (11) Wonderful Memory (6) Heugseol Gongju (12) Ace Force
Next Best 8, 9
Fast Start 2, 11, 12

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

The last of the maidens is for three-year-olds only so sees some boosted prize money. None of them have raced more than four times and quite a few of them have shown some potential. (4) TIME SPEC came home 3rd, several lengths behind a pair of good ones on what was his second start on January 5th. It was at this distance and he got away well that day With a similarly good start today, he’ll have a solid chance. (9) YONGGU and (7) SEOLGWANGHWA finished 4th and 5th at the distance three weeks ago and the former especially will be fancied to match of better that today. Then there are the ones stepping up to the distance for the first time. (5) CHEONNYEONUI BADA was a decent 5th on debut at 1000M a month ago and will be expected to get a first start again here while (10) VIP (more…)

Trial Reports

Busan Racecourse – February 3

Trial 1: Very slow heat even considering the conditions. Only three passed. Jungang Yeoje won three of her first four starts in 2016 but went badly off the boil. She last raced in August 2017. Daeho Myeongga  stood in the gate on his last start in Decmber and was sent back to two starting tests and barrier trials. One more to go.

Trial 2: American Power was 3rd in last year’s Korean Derby but only raced once more on 2017, finishing well down the field in the Minister’s Cup. He had already re-qualified in a December trial but was sent to sharpen up in this one in which he came 2nd, a neck behind Sinhyeokmyeong, who recorded a 2st and a 2nd in two outings early last year before suffering suspensory ligament damage. He looked sharp. Among others (more…)

Weekend Round-Up: Ecton Blade & Triple Crown Trail, Rainha, Moonhak Chief

Three-year-olds were the standout performers in Korea last weekend with some of the best of the crop turning in eye-catching performances at both Seoul & Busan.

Ecton Blade won the Breeders’ Cup race at Seoul in December and so headed into the New Year as the leading Triple Crown contender. 2nd placegetter in that race and Seoul’s top juvenile of last year Choinma could only manage another 2nd place on his own seasonal debut two weeks ago but Ecton Blade made no mistake at Busan on Sunday.  He’s already won over 1600M before and went into Sunday’s race 3, at the KRA Cup Mile distance as the prohibitive favourite, fully justifying it by sauntering to an eight-length win. Stiffer tests await.

Ecton Blade’s win leaves the top sixteen three-year-olds (sixteen being the maximum field-size) with Triple Crown eligibility currently looking like this:

1. Ecton Blade [Ecton Park]
2= Sinui Myeongryeong (filly) [Hansen]
2= Choinma [Menifee]
4. Yeonghui Sidae (filly) [Hansen]
5. Captain Force [Peace Rules]
6. Divide Wind [Menifee]
7. Magic Ten (filly) [Rock Hard Ten]
8. Hoeng Un Gol [Forest Camp]
9. Meni Bada [Menifee]
10. World Sun [Officer]
11. King Jjang [Simon Pure]
12= Green K (filly) [Chapel Royal]
12= Global Line [Rock Hard Ten]
12= Hae Hu [Peace Rules]
12= Bugyeong Daebak (filly) [Forest Camp]
12= Blue Flag (filly) [Menifee]

Ecton Blade’s trainer Kim Young Kwan has an embarassment of riches that has seen 20 of his 40 runners so far in 2018 win. Even my elementary maths can calculate that’s a scarcely believable 50% strike rate and 70% of his runners have finished in the Quinella. Perhaps the richest of all the talents could be Rainha.

The exiting filly stepped up to a mile for what was her third career start and Rainha maintained her 100% record in a dismissively easy manner, cruising around on the bridle for a four-length win. Having been imported in-utero, she’s not on the Classic trail but nevertheless looks a very promising talent.

Rainha is owned by Shunsuke Yoshida and her dam is Allwise (Mr. Greeley) who had three foals in Japan before being relocated to Nokwon Farm on Jeju Island in late 2014 while in foal to Gold Allure. That resulting foal was Rainha. In the meantime, her filly by Heart’s Cry, born a year earlier and called Historia, last November won the TVK Sho at Tokyo Racecourse and now boasts a record of three wins from nine starts in the JRA.

Also in the non-eligible three-year-old ranks is Moonhak Chief. The US import by Pioneerof The Nile stepped up to class 2 and also to 1800M for the first time at Seoul on Sunday. And mightilu impressive he was too,  being ridden patiently by Lim Gi Won early on beofre stikign the front with just over a furlong to go and running on to win by a comfortable two lengths. He’s now won five of his seven outings.

In other news, Doraonpogyeongseon (Kantharos) went down by a nose in Busan’s Sunday sprint feature. Under an apprentice jockey so as he wouldn’t have to carry 60kg, the third-placegetter in the Korea Sprint couldn’t quite get up over 1200M, beaten a nose by Ever In Ever (Sharp Humor)/

Sunday Seoul & Busan: Race-By-Race Preview (February 4)

Another cold spell has gripped the peninsula this weekend but racing will be going ahead as usual at both Seoul & Busan on Sunday. There are 11 races at Seoul from 10:45 to 18:00 and 6 at Busan from 12:40 to 17:05. Here are the previews:

Ecton Blade

2017 Breeders’ Cup winner Ecton Blade kicks off his 3yo campaign at Busan on Sunday (Pic: KRA)

Seoul Race 1: Class 6: Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(3) THUNDER MARINE has come close in each of three outings so far and while he could only manage 4th when favourite last time, he can get the early lead here and make all. (4) ILGAKSU and (1) MACHO HIME finished 2nd and 4th when they raced each other at the distance on January 7th and both can challenge again. Ilgaksu will most likely challenge Thunder Marine on the early pace and looks to have the best chance of beating him. 5th in that race was (2) JOEUN NADEURI, who is a little more experienced and already has a 3rd place to her name. She can go well here. Also experienced and in the frame is (5) CHOWON YEOJEONSA, who comes in off a best so far 2nd. Wildcard could be (8) INDIAN ECO who has been unspectacular but competent in both efforts so far.

Selections (3) Thunder Marine (4) Ilgaksu (1) Macho Hime (5) Chowon Yeojeonsa
Next Best 8, 2
Fast Start

 Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

(6) SEUNGRI PLUS was a well beaten 4th behind a good winner on December 23rd, but it was an encouraging first try at this distance and he looks to have scope to improve today. She can get on the early speed and go all the way. Also looking for a fast start will be (9) CHEON BYEOL, who after an inauspicious debut, has followed up with back to back 4th place finishes and can also improve. (11) SKY DOLPUNG put in a useful 3rd place a month ago and should be in at least the placing frame again while (3) ROYAL PRINCE and (7) BRILLIANT are others to consider.

Selections (6) Seungri Plus (9) Cheon Byeol (11) Sky Dolpung (7) Brilliant
Next Best 3, 4
Fast Start 4, 6, 9

 Seoul Race 3: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(5) STAR CAT finds herself up in class despite remaining a maiden but the manner of her back to back runner-up finishes suggests that she has a win in her and also that she should have little to fear at class 5, especially in an all-filly contest such as this. She’ll likely be on or close to the early speed. (12) BIG EAR was a very easy winner on debut but didn’t go quite so well when sent off as favourite on his first try at this class over 1200M on December 17th. He’ll have to overcome the wide draw but he should be in contention here. (1) RUBY BEOLKIN remains winless after ten attempts but shouldn’t be too far away while (4) CHO ORONG MA and (9) ROYAL PARK are others in the hunt.

Selections (5) Star Cat (12) Big Ear (1) Ruby Beolkin (4) Cho Orong Ma
Next Best 9, 3
Fast Start 5, 6, 12

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

(1) AMENDA has closed from well off the pace to for a win and 2nd place in her latest two starts, both at this distance and the most recent of which was at this class. She’s been drawn inside today though and we’re going to expect her to go straight to the front and look to lead all the way. Perhaps a little ironically, while we expect the closer to try to lead here, the threats are likely to come from behind. (10) SPECIAL LIGHT and (12) MAMKKEOT DALYEO are both proven money winners (if not actual winners) at this distance and can finish strongly while (3) SKY BIG steps back in trip after a reasonable showing at 1700M last time and can go close. (7) GWACHEON TUHON and the up in class and back from a spell (8) KING EXPLOIT are others to look out for.

Selections (1) Amenda (10) Special Light (3) Sky Big (12) Mamkkeot Dalyeo
Next Best 8, 7
Fast Start 1, 4, 9, 12

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

Having breezed through a trial, (5) LUCKY ROOKIE was a comfortable winner on debut on December 17th, sitting handy early before going clear in the closing stages. He returns here up in class but at the same distance and in with a chance. A week later, (10) SEUNGNI NARAE did the same thing, comfortably winning on debut and is in the same position of being up in class with a chance. (9) BLACK WIND and (4) LEAD UP came home 2nd and 3rd at class and distance in December. The latter went on to run 6th of 12 at the start of January and both can be in the frame again here. (2) EAGLE SKY was considered good enough to run in a top juvenile race las October. He came 11th of 14 before then running last over 1300M in December. He went back to trial after that and returned, looking better when 4th at this distance three weeks ago and can continue to improve today.

Selections (10) Seungni Narae (5) Lucky Rookie (2) Eagle Sky (9) Black Wind
Next Best 4, 3
Fast Start 4, 5

Busan Race 2: Class 5 (1600M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(1) ORYONG could only manage 5th when well backed on what was his first try at this distance two weeks ago but he got a bad trip that day, checking at the start and having further problems in running later. He’s sent back out again quickly and this time he should win. (9) ARAM NARAE finds herself up in class having finished runner-up in both her outings to date. She was beaten by Oryong on debut and by another decent looking (more…)