He’s finally done it. At his fourth attempt, Triple Nine has won the Grand Prix Stakes. The four-time President’s Cup winner saw off Cheongdam Dokki, Today and Dolkong. Here it is:
It was another super performance from the oh-so-reliable six-year-old and in winning, Triple Nine broke the US$4 Million barrier in prize money and shows no signs of losing any of his ability. Jockey Lim Sung Sil put in a solid ride (the 1 Million Won he was fined for overuse of the whip in the home straight notwithstanding) while it was another remarkable training performance from Kim Young Kwan’s team, who also managed to get Today home in a surprise 3rd place.
Some thoughts on the race a day later. Aside from Triple Nine, Cheongdam Dokki showed character to fight back after being headed in the straight. He went significantly slower up front than last year (conditions playing a role in that) controlling the race well. The distance is not his best but he almost did it.
Today only qualified for the race by virtue of the points Korean-trained horses are awarded for participating in overseas and his 3rd place at Kranji in the KRA Trophy over 1200M was enough to get him in. Prior to the race, most debate was about whose race he was likely to ruin – would it be Cheongdam Dokki’s by engaging him in a speed duel in which they would both cook themselves? Or would it be by getting on the way of a horse trying to muster a strong finish when he inevitably weakened?
Soon after the start though, when jockey Lee Hyo Sik took a sit behind Cheongdam Dokki, there was a creeping realisation among observers that Today was in the race in order to win. At odds of 60/1, he came very close.
Had Dolkong drawn a barrier, things may have been different. From gate 16, Antonio Da Silva was never able to get into a comfortable position and had to spend the entire race at least three wide. He was still only beaten by just over two lengths in 4th. His career having been blighted by injury, Dolkong is a massive talent. He heads now to Meydan for the Dubai Carnival where there is every chance he will run very well.
Two other horses in the race are also scheduled to go to Dubai. Dolkong’s stablemate Choego Money was reasonably prominent throughout but didn’t quicken late on while Bart Rice’s Buhwarui Banseok had an off-day. Both may show their true ability in different conditions at Meydan.
Thomas Gillespie’s Great King ran well for 5th place while looking to the future, Moonhak Chief ran well in 6th, a full seven-lengths clear of the next one home, and was the best of the three-year-olds in the race. Who’s to say though that the future won’t involve Triple Nine once more? He’s now done it all. Don’t rule him out of doing it again.