Month: February 2019

Ioannis Poullis Rides 1st Korean Winner / Road Winner Strolls At Seoul But World Day Goes Down At Busan

Richard Oliver did it on Friday and on Sunday it was the turn of Ioannis Poullis to make his Busan breakthrough and ride his first Korean winner. The Cypriot jockey did it the hard way too, guiding 60/1 chance Jeongsang Korea to victory in a hard-fought concluding race 6.

Poullis debuted at Busan just before the Lunar New Year holiday but started in earnest this Friday when he made the places for the first time. His book of four rides on Sunday looked uninspiring and so they had proved to be with his first three mounts of the afternoon only beating one horse between them.

That all changed in the last though as Poullis brought Jeongsang Korea, who last won in December 2017, through late to score by just over a length in the 1200M class 2 contest. 90/1 chance Ubaki got closest to the winner, making for an unlikely 2700/1 exacta.

It was a good day for the most established foreign rider at the track. Franco Da Silva won race 1 on odds-on favourite Tongil Hanguk and then claimed the spoils in the feature 2200M Class 1 Handicap on Jumbo Blade. World Day, who came into the race having won eight of his previous nine starts was sent off as the odds-on favourite, but he reared up as the gates opened, instantly losing too much ground to be a serious factor.

Meanwhile Da Silva kept Jumbo Blade handy and he was able to comfortably outsprint top-weight Great King and the fast-finishing Choegang Thunder for a four-length win. With that victory Jumbo Blade, a four-year-old US-bred colt by Mineshaft, moved on to five wins from ten career starts.

Seoul saw a similarly long-distance feature race but there were no problems for the odds-on favourite in the capital. Road Winner was an also-ran in the Grand Prix Stakes at the end of 2018 but had subsequently won over 1800M and back up to 2300M today, had little difficulty in dispatching eight class 1 rivals by a comfortable five-length margin. A four-year-old by Discreet Cat, he moves onto seven wins from ten outings.


Seoul & Busan Sunday: Race-By-Race Preview (February 17)

It’s Stayers’ Sunday! Horses who like a bit of distance to get stuck into don’t get many opportunities in Korea but they do – kind of – this Sunday in that the feature Class 1 handicaps at both Seoul & Busan are at the maximum distance in use at the respective tracks; 2300M at Seoul (the Grand Prix distance) and 2200 at Busan. There are in total 11 races at Seoul (10:45 to 18:00) and 6 at Busan (12:40 to 17:05). Previews for Seoul followed by Selections for Busan are below:

Road Winner winning the JRA Trophy - KRA

Road Winner will be action at Seoul on Sunday (Pic: Ross Holburt/KRA)

Race 1: Class 5 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

Two standout contenders here will be expected to dispute the honours between them. (2) YAHO THUNDER CAT and (4) WONDERFUL DIXIE were both impressive maiden winners at the end of last year and both ran well on their respective first attempts at this level in January. Yaho Thunder Cat perhaps has the slight edge at the moment and he’s the narrow top pick. (5) SKY STORM was 3rd behind Wonderful Dixie last time out and while he has three-lengths to make up, looks to have the best chance of challenging the favoured pair. (1) FINAL STORM and the up in class (10) DRAGON BOAT are others who may step up.

Selections (2) Yaho Thunder Cat (4) Wonderful Dixie (5) Sky Storm (10) Dragon Boat
Next Best 1, 8
Fast Start 1, 2, 4, 10

Race 2: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(12) PUNGMUNEURO has been knocking at the door for a while now, culminating in a good run for 2nd place at this distance last month. In all her previous outings there’s always been at least one obvious one to beat her but that’s not the case here and for the first time she is set to start as favourite. She’ll need to overcome the wide draw and if she comes up short again, (5) WIND RIVER looks best placed to capitalise. She had a bit of bad luck when a close 6th last time and should benefit from the increase in trip today and will be expected to overturn the form on (11) CHEONHA YEOJE, who finished ahead of her. (2) GWANGPOK JUHAENG and (8) FOR J.K both look to be getting closer and can be considered while (3) WONDERFUL HEELS may have been poor on her latest two outings but carries a very light weight here and has shown ability in the past.

Selections (12) Pungmuneuro (5) Wind River (8) For J.K (2) Gwangpok Juhaeng
Next Best 3, 7
Fast Start 2, 6, 11, 12

Race 3: Class 5 (1700M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(2) HANEULEUL DALRIDA stepped up to this trip last time and ran 3rd having led almost the entire way around. He will hopefully have come on for that and while today’s opposition is marginally stiffer, he can win. So too can (7) HANEUL NARAE. He overcame a poor start to go close over 1300M last time and should suit today’s extended distance. (3) RAON MIRACLE remains a maiden but looked competent when tackling this distance for the first time three weeks ago and can improve. (8) CLEAR GEOM is definitely competent at the trip. He was stepped up to it for just his second career start a month ago and it resulted in his maiden win. He’s up in class but has potential. (5) VICTORY STAR and (6) BAEKDUUI JEONGSANG are others with at least placing claims.

Selections (2) Haneuleul Dalrida (7) Haneul Narae (8) Clear Geom (3) Raon Miracle
Next Best 5, 6
Fast Start 1, 2, 7

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

Three-year-old maidens here. (2) FEATHER LIGHT has placed 3rd in both tries at this distance to date. He was a long shot last time out but ran well and shouldn’t need t improve much if he is to win this. The main danger is (4) BARAMEUL GEURIDA. All of his starts so far have been at 1000M (finishing well in front of Feather Light on one occasion) but the extra distance isn’t too much of a concern and he will try to lead all the way. (11) GEUMSUNI STAR and (12) CHEONJI POKPUNG both look to be improving and both come in having finished 3rd on their latest outings. Both are in contention. Best of the rest is (5) INDEPENDENCE.

Selections (2) Feather Light (4) Barameul Geurida (12) Cheonji Pokpung (11) Geumsuni Star
Next Best 5, 9
Fast Start 2, 4, 12

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

Very competitive handicap. (9) NIMUI HYANGGI and (10) FULL MOON SKY are both last start winners who are up in class today. Both should be competitive with Nimui Hyanggi, having won well at this distance, the slightly more favoured of the pair. Neither are top pick though. That’s (8) FIGHTING HERO, a winner on debut last October, who just came up short when favourite at class and distance last time out, beaten a length into 3rd. He looks to have talent and can get it right this time. (3) GLOBAL CHEONHA steps up in trip for the first time and has solid claims too while (11) NEUL SACHAN does the opposite and drops down in distance after enduring a tough time around 1700M last month. She should be better today.

Selections (8) Fighting Hero (9) Nimui Hyanggi (10) Full Moon Sky (3) Global Cheonha
Next Best 11, 2
Fast Start 3, 7, 9

Race 6: Class 4 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million

Twelve imported horses going over the minimum distance here and the only previous winner among them is (11) PRO HAMSEONG, who saluted over this distance in fine fashion in December. He only managed 4th on reappearance last month but Johan (more…)

Richard Oliver Rides First Korean Winner / New Legend Continues Stroll Up Busan Ranks

After a string of near-misses, the hard work paid off for Richard Oliver at Busan Racecourse on Friday afternoon, the British jockey riding four runners-up throughout the day before finally being rewarded with victory on Core Blade in the concluding race 12.

It was perhaps fitting that the win came on Core Blade, the filly who provided Oliver with his first Busan mount as a late pick-up a month ago. Since then there has been the Lunar New Year holiday and Oliver returned for the first meeting back in fine form, dead-heating for 2nd on his opening mount of the afternoon, Lucky Number One in race 3.

Oliver then guided 10/1 chance Baekdu Daeho to the runner’s up spot in race 6 followed by 23/1 shot I’m Your Hope to a close 2nd in race 9 followed. Mr. Scat duly gave the jockey his fourth near-miss in race 11 although, in truth, they were only ever racing for silver in that one.

Core Blade had been well-fancied when 27-year-old Oliver got the late call-up a day after arriving in the country last month. However, the Menifee filly was heavily bumped coming out of the gate and while she recovered well, could only manage to finish 3rd that day. This time there were no such difficulties as the pair got away well and stayed handy until proving too strong in the closing stages, scoring by two-and-a-half lengths on the line.

The reason Mr. Scat was only every likely to be competing for 2nd in race 11 is that the race saw the fourth Korean start of New Legend.

The four-year-old was bred in Korea but broke his maiden at Arlington Park last summer. He returned home in the autumn and has since gone on to establish himself as the hottest up and coming talent in the country. Under jockey Lee Hyo Sik, the colt made it four out of four with a facile victory, cruising away from a class 3 field to win by four-lengths and continue his stately through the levels.

Seoul Saturday: Race-By-Race Preview February 16)

A big 13-race card to welcome racing back to the capital following the Lunar New Year holiday. Race 1 at 10:45 and race 13 at 18:00. Here are the previews:

New Citadel Korea Racing Authority

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

The opener is restricted to three-year-old maidens. (4) BIG PRO has shown some ability over three outings so far. He was a narrowly beaten favourite over a slow-running track last month and is well worth another chance to get things right today. (8) O PI M J did nothing on debut in December but returned last month to run a much improved 2nd place, running on very pleasingly and into contention today. (5) BUCKETFUL GOLD raced greenly in his two starts last autumn to the extent that he got suspended for two months and ordered to do two trials. He’s looked much more competent when completing those and with improved manners, we should see an improved performance today. (6) BLACK WINGWING was a disappointing last on January 6th but went well on debut and gets another chance. (1) P. K. JEONSA and (3) PINEAPPLE MARK others in the frame.

Selections (4) Big Pro (5) Bucketful Gold (6) Black Wingwing (8) O Pi M J
Next Best 1, 3
Fast Start 1, 2, 5, 9

Race 2: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(7) MAGPIE was a 50/1 chance on debut over 1000M on January 19th but didn’t run like one as she came from of the pace to come home 2nd. She steps up in trip today and she should win. (2) REAL GANGJA has a couple of 3rd places to his name already and if we draw a line through his latest effort, can go close. (1) KAHINAH and (4) JEOKTO BIMA have also hinted at some ability and should be looking to place. Wildcard is (12) SERA YEOJE who left It far too late on debut but did actually finish off nicely and is another who may like the step up in distance.

Selections (7) Magpie (1) Kahinah (2) Real Gangja (12) Sera Yeoje
Next Best 4, 9
Fast Start 4, 8, 10, 11

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

(11) OKAY TAP was 3rd on debut and 2nd on re-appearance last month, the latter at this distance. Finishing anywhere inside the top three will be enough to send him up in class next time and it’s likely he’ll bow out of the bottom tier a winner here. (9) JEONGMUN SARANG’s showed promise as a juvenile and was an also-ran in Seoul’s top race for two-year-olds. He’s not run since, but this looks a nice assignment to ease back into things. (5) COILRO ran a solid 3rd on debut and while she was 6th of 9 on her second start, she too should be closer today. (3) DELTA BROTHER and (7) MENI SPEED both ran adequately on their respective debuts at 1000M and both could show improvement here.

Selections (11) Okay Tap (9) Jeongmun Sarang (5) Coilro (3) Delta Brother
Next Best 7, 6
Fast Start 3, 5, 9

Race 4: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

Three-year-old maiden fillies only here. Eight of them have raced before, none especially convincingly. Fortunately, we have a couple of promising debut-makers. Both (2) SIMON QUEEN and (5) GEOM HYANG showed well in trials and couldn’t have picked a nicer race to start in. The latter of the pair is the more fancied first-up. They’ll have to beat a returnee who didn’t cover herself in glory on debut on December 1st. That’s (9) JEMA TEUKGEUP, who after getting bumped at the start proceeded to first hang outwards and then veer out of running completely around the turn. Stewards ordered her to trial three times before being allowed to race again and she has looked steadily more impressive over the course of them. Manners shouldn’t be a problem this time and she can win. Of the ones who have actually completed a race, (1) CENTER POLE and (4) COMPLETE MOTION look best.

Selections (9) Jema Teukgeup (2) Simon Queen (5) Geom Hyang (1) Center Pole
Next Best 4, 3
Fast Start 2, 3, 4

Race 5: Class 5 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million

Fillies only and it’s a really competitive handicap. Slight pick is (10) CHARON BLADE, who beat a couple of these on her way to a solid 2nd place on her first try at this class on January 12th. Prior to that she beat (6) HORSE QUEEN by a nose when scoring her maiden win at this trip in December and she can win today. Horse Queen followed up by making all to win at this distance in early January. She’ll have to improve today but should be in the hunt as should (3) UDAERYUNG, one for one having sored on debut by a cool three lengths a month ago. The latest outings of both (4) ROMAN BLADE beat (1) HOMECOMING as the pair ran 2nd and 6th over this distance on January 6th. The latter has a low draw for the first time and looks set to improve. We can also strike a line through the latest effort from (2) THANK YOU MOTHER. She drops back in trip today and should be a very different prospect.

Selections (10) Charon Blade (1) Homecoming (2) Thank You Mother (3) Udaeryung
Next Best 6, 4
Fast Start 1, 2, 5, 8

Race 6: Class 6 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

Another competitive race although this time we have a set of maidens who look equal in their fragility. Only five have tried the distance before, the others sent up to try something different. That may pay off for (4) RAON STELLA, who has finished either 4th or 5th in all five of her appearances to date. She has always been making ground at the (more…)

Busan Friday: Race-By-Race Preview (February 15)

Racing returns from the Lunar New year break with a bumper 12-race Friday meeting at Busan from 11:30 to 18:00. Top jockey Seo Seung-un is back from national service and gets straight into action with ten mounts across the card. There is also an appearance by New Legend, seeking to take his undefeated streak in Korea to four. He’s hot favourite in race 11. Here are the previews:

Joy lucky Seo Seung Un

Seo Seung-un is back – let’s hope he looks in the right direction, unlike in this picture (KRA)

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

(2) GOLDEN SHARP will be the pick here. Having hinted at ability across his first four starts he improved to 2nd last time behind a good-looking winner. He’s well drawn to lead and can make the breakthrough here. (8) B.K. SOUND was ordinary on debut but has since registered a 2nd and a 3rd and is sure to be close here. (11) FUNKY ran a good 3rd last start and with a top jockey on today can at least match while (10) HAPPY GATE also looks to be figuring things out. There’s just one debut-maker. (4) FINE TRUMPET trialled all the way back in November behind the excellent Seobu Cat and while it’s taken him a while to get to the track, both stable and jockey – he’s the first ride back for Seo Seung-un – make for some appeal.

Selections (2) Golden Sharp (4) Fine Trumpet (11) Funky (8) B.K. Sound
Next Best 10, 12
Fast Start 2, 3, 8

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

More three-year-old maidens here with six of them racing for the first time. It’s hard to look too far past (11) HALLA HWANGHU though. She’s shown good progress over her three outings to date and was a front-runner 2nd on her latest effort six weeks ago. She’s drawn wide here but can overcome that and can win. (4) ACE BOOM on the other hand is drawn nicely – much better than on two previous tries at this distance – and she can improve on the 4th she registered at 1300M last time out. Neither (5) ECTON SMILE nor (8) MUNHWA SIGNATURE did too much wrong on their respective debuts and both can improve here, as can (9) DOCTOR MIMI, whose 5th last start was her best so far.

Selections (11) Halla Hwanghu (4) Ace Boom (8) Munhwa Signature (9) Doctor Mimi
Next Best 5, 3
Fast Start 3, 4, 11

Race 3: Class 5 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million

(8) SILLAUI MISO is up in class having notched her maiden win by five-lengths on January 18th and she could well score again in this very competitive all-filly affair. Three others join her in stepping up in level, all following their respective maiden scores and of them (4) FANTASTIC GIRL and (7) LUCKY NUMBER ONE look best equipped to make an immediate impact.  Five of the others faced each other at this class and distance on January 18th, a race won by promising filly Nakita. (1) S S YOUNG finished the best of them that day in 2nd and she can go well once more. (10) USEUNG TICKET and (2) MAKGANG YEOGEOL came home 3rd and 4th and they too should be competitive.

Selections (8) Sillaui Miso (7) Lucky Number One (1) S S Young (4) Fantastic Girl
Next Best 10, 2
Fast Start 4, 7, 8, 9

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

(3) NORMAL CLASSIC was a much-improved 2nd on his second career start on January 18th, leading for much of the way at this distance before ultimately being beaten. He should have come on for that run and can be on pace once more, this time coming home on top. (8) DAMYANG CHOEGANG also comes in having finished 2nd on his latest outing. That was in an admittedly weak class and distance affair on January 11th, however, he did beat (6) DONGBANG WARRIOR and (10) DAEHEUNG SIDAE, who came home within a length of him in 3rd and 4th. All three should be competitive here. (7) WONDERFUL SINGS is another who looks to have improvement in him; he came from well off the pace to run 4th over 1000M last month and looks ready to try this distance again today.

Selections (3) Normal Classic (8) Damyang Choegang (7) Wonderful Sings (6) Dongbang Warrior
Next Best 10, 2
Fast Start 3, 8

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

This is a strong race for the level. The pick is (7) RACING GALLOPER, who ran a close 2nd on his first try at this level last time having picked up his maiden win in December. He should be close to the early pace and can win. So too can plenty of others. (2) GHOST RIDER finished 3rd on his first try at the level last month. This is his first attempt at 1300M, and he should go close. (12) ROCK HARD QUEEN steps up in class after a nice (more…)

Seo Seung Un Returns From National Service – Jang Chuyoul Departs

Seo Seung Un has completed his compulsory national service and the jockey – one of Korea’s leading riders before his departure – will return to action at Busan Racecourse this Friday.

Cheongnyong Bisang2

Cheongnyong Bisang wininng the KRA Cup Mile in 2014 under Seo Seung Un (Pic: KRA)

Seo burst onto the scene in 2011, riding a pair of winners on his very first day’s racing before proceeding to ride out his allowance in double-quick time. In early 2012, Seo spent time in the United States riding at winner at Charles Town and that summer went on to represent Korea at the 2012 Asia Young Guns Jockey Challenge in Macau, finishing 3rd.

He rode his first Korea Group race winners in 2013 and the same year played a part in Korean racing history when he travelled to Ohi Racecourse and rode Watts Village to a 30/1 victory in the Japan/Korea Interaction Cup – the first Korea-trained horse to win a race overseas. In 2016, he switched base from Seoul to Busan but would return to the capital to partner Triple Nine to glory in the G1 President’s Cup that November.

Seo’s return means there are now six Korean jockeys currently away on service, including top Seoul rider Jang Chuyoul, who enlisted at the end of January and won’t return until late 2020.

The others currently serving and their anticipated return dates are as follows:


Park Hyun Woo – June 2020
Song Jae Chul – August 2019
Lee Hyeon Jong – July 2019


Lee Yong Ho – April 2019
Chae Sang Hyun – July 2019

Former Busan Jockey Kanichiro Joe Fujii Gains JRA License

It’s always nice to see various alumni of Korean racing around the world doing well and this week began with the news that Kanichiro (Joe) Fujii, who rode full-time at Busan from 2012 to 2014 and has been a frequent return visitor since, has achieved his long-standing ambition of passing the JRA Jockey’s License exams and as a result, can now enter the elite tier of Japanese racing. 

Fujii Gamdonguibada

Joe Fujii won the Grand Prix Stakes on Gamdonguibada in 2012 (Pic: KRA)

Fujii had attempted the brutally difficult selection process five times previously, however, there was a big sign that it was going to be different on this occasion when it emerged last November that he had been the only candidate to have passed the fiendish written examination – the stage that ended for now the JRA hopes of Joao Moreira. Having successfully completed the rest of the tests, Fujii will be able to start riding full time in the JRA in March.

Fujii was born in Nara, Japan, but went to Australia at the age of 15 to try to become a jockey. He debuted in 2001 and spent the next five years riding mainly in New South Wales, finishing 2nd in the State’s Apprentice Jockey race in 2006.  In 2007, he spent nine months riding in Singapore before embarking on a tour of Europe and the United States, during which he rode work at Chantilly and Belmont Park before returning to Australia.

He made the switch to Korea in 2012 and quickly became successful, winning that year’s Grand Prix Stakes on Gamdonguibada before completing a Derby/Oaks double on filly Speedy First in 2013. With almost 150 Korean winners to his name, he bowed out of Busan in late 2014 riding on the local NAR circuit in Japan as well as back in Australia again.

Fujii has, however, become something of a go-to jockey for Japanese trainers sending horses to Korea for the international races. He returned to Seoul in 2015 to partner Esmeraldina to victory in the Ttukseom Cup and then Chrysolite in the inaugural Korea Cup the following year. While those two were by far and away the best horses in their respective races, Fujii’s local knowledge came into play in 2018 when he produced an aggressive ride to win the Korea Sprint on Moanin. Now a fully-fledged JRA jockey, it would be no surprise were Japanese connections to opt for his services once more on international weekend in Seoul this September.