For the first time since 2014, a horse not named Triple Nine is going to win the President’s Cup. The four-time winner of the richest all-aged race in the country that is restricted to Korean-bred runners – and resultingly, Korea’s all-time leading money-earner – came back into training in late summer with a tilt at five in a row in mind, but a setback in early October means he hasn’t made it.
A full field of sixteen have though and they will line up in race 9 this Sunday over the 2000M at Seoul. We’ll have selections up later in the weekend but for now, here are all sixteen contenders.
President’s Cup (KOR G1) 2000M / KRW 800 Million
- WONDERFUL FLY – The easy winner of the Korean Derby in May, he struggled in the Minister’s Cup the following month. He then won at class 3 over 1400M but had a hard time on his class 2 bow over 1800M at the end of September. That Moon Se Young gets off him to ride Simjangui Godong perhaps tells its own story but there was a more than capable replacement in Alan Munro. Will be a front-runner but whether he can stay on at this trip in this company is questionable.
- SHARK DAEJANGGEUN – Well back behind Simjangui Godong on a wet track in July’s Ilgan Sports but redeemed himself somewhat when 2nd in the JRA Trophy over 1800M on international weekend. Yet to win at higher than class 3. Generally operates as a deep closer so may need some luck but he can pass plenty late on.
- NASCA PRINCE – A good class 1 winner over 2300M in May so his staying credentials are not in doubt. His form perhaps is though with him coming home 19th and 7th in two subsequent starts, both at 1800M. Nicely drawn to get to the front early and he can give a good account of himself although others are favoured.
- KINGSTON HARBOR – One of two in the race for trainer Baik Kwang-yeol. A three-year-old, he didn’t make it onto the Classic trail but won three in a row between May and July to get to class 2 level. Since then he has put in two 3rd place finishes, both at 1800M. Likely to settle just behind the early pace, this is his first try at the distance and in this company. Can go well but perhaps too much too soon.
- SIMJANGUI GODONG – Ran 2nd in the Derby and 6th in the Minister’s Cup but has been very good since then, winning the Ilgan Sports Cup and HRI Trophy in back to back starts in July and September and most recently scored over a mile at class 2 at a mile. Four of his five wins have come on wet tracks, but he looks to be the improver of the field and jockey Moon Se Young gets on him instead of the Derby winner. He’ll be close to the pace early and has a big chance.
- TOHAM ACE – An up and comer from Thomas Gillespie’s stable, he recorded a five-race winning streak between March and August this year which saw him go from class 5 to class 2. That streak came to an end when 3rd behind Final Energy at 1800M on September 27th. He tests the distance for the first time and You Hyun-myung comes up from Busan to ride him. Goes best when at the front, this is a tough ask, but improvement is possible.
- FINAL ENERGY –Managed an excellent 5th behind Blue Chipper in the Korea Sprint over 1200M here in September before returning to Busan and winning in a very fast time for 1800M ahead of Toham Ace at class 2 level at the end of September. It’s his first time over the additional furlong today but he should be equal to it and has a big race jockey aboard. He has a chance.
- DOKGO JIGI – A winner of eight from eleven, this is his first start since June, when he was a class 1 winner over 1800M. A mild bout of colic and injury have kept him out since then but he looked well enough when trialling up last week. His only defeat this year was his first try at class 1 back in April. He generally settles just off the pace and while this is a very tough ask first-up, he is a class act.
- NEW LEGEND – Began his racing career in the United States, picking up a win at Arlington Park, before returning to Korea last autumn. He won his first four efforts easily before finding his match once he reached elite level company. Nevertheless, he has more than held his own with his only really disappointing run coming in the Korea Cup. He was 4th to Moonhak Chief here in the YTN Cup in his only previous try at this distance but this looks the ideal race for him. He has a chance.
- MYEONGPUM CHUKJE – One of the better three-year-olds, he was 5th in the KRA Cup Mile, 4th in the Derby and then 2nd in the Minister’s Cup. Since the conclusion of the Triple Crown, he has picked up one win in three starts and while it was only at class 3, it was over 1900M. He’s a colt who seems to need a bit of distance so this should suit and while he has suffered reverses to four of his rivals today among his latest five starts, he could run into some minor money.
- ROCK CHOICE – Joined the Triple Crown trail in the final leg and duly won the Minister’s Cup extremely handily at odds in excess of 20/1. He then returned to Busan and promptly won at class 3 over 1800M but has failed to make an impact in two subsequent starts at class 2 level. The Minister’s Cup win was the only race he’s been ridden forward in, but he has won from behind before, albeit in weaker company. Can’t be completely ruled out.
- MAJOR ALPHA – A very consistent type, he got his first class 1 victory at odds of 40/1 when dropped back to 1400M in August. He bled for the first time in that race and was accordingly stood down for a month and sent back to trial, which he passed at the end of September. He has a 3rd place at class 2 to his name at this distance. While up against it here, he’ll come from off the pace and can pass some in the latter stages of the race.
- ULTRA ROCKET – A very good 4th in this race last year, he has subsequently established himself at class 1 level and comes into contention after a good win in the HKJC Trophy at 1800M on International weekend in September. He usually comes from off the pace with a strong finish which, given his draw, looks to be the likely tactics again here. He could go close.
- ECTON BLADE – The 2018 Korean Derby winner has had an interrupted career since then, with only one subsequent victory to his name and that was all the way back last August. He returned just three weeks ago from eight months off and while he was well beaten, it was clear he needed the run. Obviously scope for improvement but this is a tough race and he’ll be among the outsiders.
- CLEAR GEOM – A somewhat surprising winner of the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup, the concluding leg of the “Triple Tiara” at this distance in June, she has since backed up that form with two wins from three more outings. She upset both Myeongpum Chukje and Wonderful Fly last start on September 29th over 1800M. She likes the distance and as both a three-year-old, and the only filly, she is getting weight from the entire field making her an interesting wildcard.
- CAPTAIN FORCE – Stablemate of New Legend, he is one of the few genuine established top-class performers in the field with four wins at class 1 to his name. He comes in having won his latest start, which was over this distance, in very handy fashion. That was back in early June, so he has been off for five months. He did go through a barrier trial in October, which he won in good fashion. Likes to be close to the front so the draw does him no favours, but if he s at his best, he has an excellent chance.