Gaon Champ may have swerved next week’s Korea Sprint but the talented three-year-old returns to Seoul in Sunday’s feature class 2 sprint looking to enhance his burgeoning reputation. There are 11 races at Seoul on Sunday from 10:45 to 18:00 plus 6 at Busan from 12:40 to 17:05.
An eye-opening six-length score at the end of July with Gaon Champ barely requiring third-gear put the Ecton Park colt into the frame for next week’s big international race and he duly appeared in the preliminary nominations at the beginning of August. However, connections ultimately decided that with only six starts under his belt and with him yet to even face top-class domestic sprint opposition, he wasn’t quite ready to take on the overseas visitors. Instead, he runs at class 2 level for the first time over his favoured six furlongs.
Gaon Champ burst onto the scene with three easy victories last autumn but a couple of setbacks over the winter meant that he didn’t return to the track until Seoul’s Classic trial in early March. He was favourite that day but over 1400M, he found himself bested in the closing stages by Mask, a colt who would go on to run well in all three-legs of the Triple Crown itself. Nevertheless, Gaon Champ traveled to Busan to take part in the KRA Cup Mile, the first Classic in April. After being very unsettled in the gate, Gaon Champ ran a poor race that day and wasn’t seen again until returning to form back down at 1200M in that July 28th race when he crushed a competitive Class 3 field.
On Sunday, he faces just six rivals, although they do include the in-form Mr. Champion and fellow up and comer Lucky Chunyang, the latter with five wins from seven outings so far. An on-form Gaon Champ should have far too much.
Gaon Champ will be ridden for the first time by Manoel Nunes, the Brazilian rider returning from a two meeting suspension this weekend. Nunes has eight rides on Sunday’s 11-race card and plenty of the others have live chances too.
Race 1: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million
(7) HAEDEULMOE enters having finished 3rd in both his two starts to date. He’s run on well each time and the extra half-furlong should be to his benefit here. Manoel Nunes rides him for the first time and he’s sure to be favourite. (3) ROAD MAN has a 2nd place to his name at this distance and while he was slightly disappointing on his reappearance in June, he comes in after a couple of months off and should get another chance (2) MAGIC DOLPUNG was an improved 3rd last time out and can continue his progression here while (4) GOODCHOICE beat a couple of these on his way to 3rd over 1200M last start and is another with the potential to push the favourite close.
|Selections||(7) Haedeulmoe (4) Goodchoice (3) Road Man (2) Magic Dolpung|
Race 2: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
(10) JACOB overcame a relatively slow start to win on debut over 1000M in mid-July. He’s up in class here but the additional trip should suit and he has a chance. Plenty of dangers though. (8) MACH SEUNGNI ran 2nd, albeit well beaten by a good winner, on his first try at this class three weeks ago. He’s already a winner at this distance and has good claims again. (6) SKY STORM also put in a good performance on his first try at this level at the end of July, leading for much of the race before getting passed late on and ending in 3rd. Likely to be ridden slightly more patiently today, he can go even better. (11) SPEED YEONGUNG enters off back to back 2nd places at 1400M and 1300M respectively, both at this level. The wide draw shouldn’t be a problem for him and he’ll be in the hunt.
|Selections||(6) Sky Storm (10) Jacob (8) Mach Seungni (11) Speed Yeongung|
|Next Best||3, 5|
|Fast Start||2, 5, 12|
Race 3: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million
Juvenile maidens here with just three of the ten having run before. Among those though is (5) WINNING BLADE. He ran a good 2nd on debut on June 23rd and returns after just over two months off looking hard to beat here. (8) RAON SERENA also did well on her debut, registering a solid 3rd place when little was expected of her on July 21st and she is likely to be the main danger. Among the first-time starters, (10) CHOEGANG PARTY is out of a Korean Oaks winning dam and held his own in trials while. (9) GAON FORCE is bound to get backing due to the jockey and while his trial wasn’t quick, he may go well. (4) M.J. TOWN and (6) STORM FORCE are others who may go well first-up.
|Selections||(5) Winning Blade (8) Raon Serena (4) M.J. Town (10) Choegang Party|
|Next Best||6, 9|
|Fast Start||5, 8|
Race 4: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million
More juveniles here and this time four of the ten have raced before. (1) I.B.S. QUEEN ran a close 3rd on debut on July 15th at this distance, beaten less than a length. From gate 1 she can be prominent from the start and with a bit of progression can win this. (3) CHANGPA is the only one in the field who has raced twice. Having been 4th on debut, she then ran 2nd to Jacob (who ran in race 2) on her re-appearance in July, briefly leading close to home. Nunes is in the saddle and she’ll be on speed from the gate with every chance. The other two who’ve raced already didn’t impress so we’ll look to the newcomers for the remainder of the picks. (8) WINNER BROWN looked the best in trials, making all the running to win his heat. (2) FIRENZE HILL and (4) RULES ICHEON look next best at this stage.
|Selections||(1) I.B.S. Queen (3) Changpa (8) Winner Brown (4) Rules Icheon|
|Next Best||2, 6|
|Fast Start||3, 8|
Race 5: Class 4 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million
(7) DAECHEON ACE was a good winner at class and distance on August 12th. He led early before dropping back and then rallying strongly to score by half a length. He only carries a couple of extra kilos today and has every chance of backing straight up. (9) SUSEONG CHAMP finished 4th in that race and could get closer today but plenty of others have chances too. Both (1) EORIN WANGJA and (8) STORMY enter having gone well at class and distance on their respective latest outings. Eorin Wangja should be on pace early where he will likely be joined by (2) SUPER TRICK, whose last two starts have been disappointing but does have talent and can be given another chance today.
|Selections||(7) Daecheon Ace (1) Eorin Wangja (8) Stormy (9) Suseong Champ|
|Next Best||2, 6|
|Fast Start||1, 2, 5, 6|
Race 6: Class 3 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 75 Million
This is a small but very competitive field with at least half of them having credible claims. (3) WANGUI DAERO’s recent form reads well and he has finished ahead of a few of these across his latest three starts. He ran a good 3rd over 1800M on July 22nd and while he drops back to this distance for the first time in a while, could well come out on top under an expected patient ride. (4) GIANT KILLER has twice finished behind Wangui Daero since May but ran a 3rd place of his own last time, also at 1800M. Like Wangui Daero, he is likely to go to the back early and look to finish strongly. (1) DOSI NONGBU is better than recent form suggests and can improve while (7) GHOST TOWN came from off the pace to run a competitive 5th in arguably a better race than this on his latest start back in May. He comes in here after three months off and can improve.
|Selections||(3) Wangui Daero (4) Giant Killer (1) Dosi Nongbu (7) Ghost Town|
|Next Best||6, 8|
|Fast Start||6, 7|
Race 7: Class 5 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
A good 4th on his first try at this level following his maiden win back in June, (1) GWACHEON JANGSA should be the one to beat today. He won’t hang around from gate 1 and could well lead all the way. (3) KKACHILHAN GONGJU was behind Gwacheon Jangsa last time but has plenty of experience at this level – and higher – and this is the kind of race she can at least find some minor prize money in. (4) SANTOS remains a maiden but has been promoted to this level after coming too close a few too many times. He drops back in trip today and should be dangerous. (7) TWO M OKAY is up in class having made all to get his maiden win at the third time of asking at the end of June. He won by five-lengths and should be challenging for the early lead today. (6) HANIL DREAM struggled on his first try at this class last time but steps back in trip today and can go better.
|Selections||(1) Gwacheon Jangsa (7) Two M Okay (4) Santos (3) Kkachilhan Gongju|
|Next Best||6, 2|
|Fast Start||1, 3, 4, 7|
Race 8: Class 4 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
(2) HANSEN GLORY recorded one of the fastest times of the year over this distance when winning by seven-lengths in June. He stepped up to this level on July 21st but went up in trip too and while he led for much of the race, he weakened badly late on. Back down to the minimum today, he will be expected to return to winning ways against indifferent opposition. (1) DAEBAK HAENGJIN ran a creditable 4th on debut at the end of July in a fast run race at this distance and can build on that today. (3) AEMA BISANG and (5) LUXURY HAPPY have plenty of experience and while inconsistent could beat a few here. There are two debut-makers; they trialled up together and both (6) GABO WONDERFUL and (8) ULTRA PUNCH could go well first up. As ever with the first-timers in a race such as this, watch the market with them.
|Selections||(2) Hansen Glory (1) Daebak Haengjin (8) Ultra Punch (5) Luxury Happy|
|Next Best||3, 6|
|Fast Start||2, 3, 7, 9|
Race 9: Class 4 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
(2) MIGHTY WA has run very well at class and distance in his two most recent starts, running 2nd and 3rd behind decent horses. He can settle just behind the early lead here and has every chance of coming out on top this time. (6) MAY PRINCE enters having won his latest two in good fashion. This is stiffer but he trialled up very nicely a couple of weeks ago and could well make it a hat-trick today. He is a fast starter and will be on the early speed. (5) BRILLIANT ran an improved 3rd at 1200M six weeks ago and can build on that here. (1) FIRE BALL and (9) SEOUL QUEEN are others to look out for. Both are expected to be on pace here and in particular Seoul Queen, who is down in class today having seen her rating slide enough to escape class 3, can improve on recent results.
|Selections||(2) Mighty Wa (6) May Prince (5) Brilliant (9) Seoul Queen|
|Next Best||1, 3|
|Fast Start||1, 6, 9|
Race 10: Class 2 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 90 Million
(2) GAON CHAMP looks a potential star and at one point looked set to run in next week’s Korea Sprint. Connections have instead opted to be patient and instead he goes here where he will start as a prohibitive favourite. His only defeats have come in the Seoul Classic trial at 1400M and then the first leg of the Triple Crown at Busan over a mile where he was fractious in the gate before the start and didn’t do himself justice. He blew away a class 3 field back at this distance on July 28th and while up in class today, should do the same here, making all. (1) MR. CHAMPION beat three of these on his way to victory at class and distance on July 29th and he looks the main danger. (5) FLYING CHAMP was 3rd in that race and should have a crack at the places again. (6) LUCKY CHUNYANG is a winner of five from seven and while he is still eligible for class 3 takes his chance here and could be an interesting wildcard.
|Selections||(2) Gaon Champ (1) Mr. Champion (5) Flying Champ (3) Gangyeogui Sungan|
|Next Best||7, 6|
|Fast Start||2, 6, 7|
Race 11: Class 4 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
An eight-length winner over 1400M in June, (7) SKY DOLPUNG led when put up to 1700M on his latest start on July 28th before weakening in the closing stages. Dropped back in trip today, he can make it back to the winner’s circle. (3) CHEOLLI has been consistent in her recent outings and the experienced mare should be looking to at least match the 3rd place she secured last time. (6) SKANDA was a solid 5th on debut seven weeks ago and the Dialed In colt can build on that here. (1) YAHO GIANT and (8) MONTEVIDEO are others who are both capable of challenging for at least places here and those two are most likely to join Sky Dolpung on the early speed.
|Selections||(7) Sky Dolpung (3) Cheolli (8) Montevideo (6) Skanda|
|Next Best||1, 2|
|Fast Start||1, 7, 8|