This decade there have only been four different President’s Cup winners. From 2010 to 2012, the great Dangdae Bulpae monopolised the race. Indie Band and Gyeongbudaero then each took a turn in the winner’s circle before Triple Nine won the first of what would be four straight successes in 2015.
There will be a new name on the trophy this year. Now aged seven, Triple Nine is back in training but he hasn’t made the starting gate and instead sixteen horses will vie to succeed him in winning the President’s Cup (KOR G1-2000M), the nation’s richest age-open race for Korean-bred horses at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon. There are 11 races at Seoul from 10:45 to 18:00 and 6 at Busan from 12:40 to 17:10. Race-by-race notes for Seoul below followed by Busan selections.
It’s a deep field. The last two Korean Derby winners, Ecton Blade and Wonderful Fly, are present but both will be outsiders in a bunch headed by Simjangui Godong. The three-year-old ran 2nd in the Derby and 6th in the Minister’s Cup but has since embarked on a purple patch of three wins including the Ilgan Sports and HRI Trophies.
Jockey Moon Se Young had more than one option but ultimately plumped for Simjangui Godong. However, a heavy fall on Saturday that landed him in hospital, seems likely to rule him out of the mount and a chance of winning one of the few elite races still to elude him.
Speaking after Thursday’s barrier draw, Moon had been bullish about Simjangui Godong’s chances and excited to ride a horse on whose sire, Jigeum I Sungan, he finished 3rd in the race in 2013. “I rode his sire in this race. We didn’t win it, but he was a great horse and I would love to win on his son. He’s a good horse, so it’s down to me. He’s so good that we can overcome even one mistake – obviously if we make more, it will be difficult”.
In gate 5, Simjangui Godong also has the plum draw. “In the President’s Cup, it’s so hard to win if you’re not within the inside 10. Gate 5 is perfect”, said Moon. Should Moon not make the race, a replacement rider has yet to be confirmed.
New Legend hasn’t quite lived up to his early promise. A Korea bred, he spent the early part of his career in the United States, even winning at Arlington Park, and for his first few outings back home looked unstoppable. The he hit the elite level and things haven’t been so easy with his latest being a disappointing run in the Keeneland Korea Cup (KOR G1).
This time though, New Legend faces only domestically-bred rivals and Kim Uk, assistant trainer to Kim Young-kwan, believes better is to come. “There is a myth that Menifee’s progeny aren’t good around 2000M or further, but we know that’s not true after Gyeongbudaero and Power Blade (both Grand Prix Stakes winner at 2300M). But we heard it again after New Legend was beaten (in May’s YTN Cup). We think he’s ready. After the Korea Cup he had a bit of a rest then we brought him back and started training him early with this in mind. We put him through a trial, and he went really well, and we think he is a chance here.”
Another serious chance is New Legend’s stablemate Captain Force. The four-year-old, by Peace Rules, is a winner of nine from twenty so far, but last raced in June. That doesn’t concern jockey Lee Hyo-sik. “He has been out a while and we initially wanted him to run once before this race, but we trialled him and felt he wasn’t ready so went back to training. We trialled him again at the beginning of October and were really happy with him so decided to come straight here. He did his fast work on Thursday and he was excellent. He’s exactly where we want him to be.”
Busan’s strong challenge is fortified by Final Energy. The Testa Matta gelding ran 5th behind Blue Chipper in the Keeneland Korea Sprint (KOR G1) in September but showed his staying credentials when beating fellow contender here Toham Ace in a strong race over 1800M five weeks ago.
Jockey Lim Sung-sil won this race on Indie Band in 2013 and likes what he sees in Final Energy. “It’s his first time around 2000M so we’ve been working on his stamina. He’s got good gate speed so I wasn’t worried about the draw although getting gate 7 is great, we just have to make sure he sees out the whole race. If he does that then he’s right in there. He travelled well, has eaten well and he likes it at Seoul – the stable here is bigger!”
There are plenty of other contenders too. Among the three-year-olds, Minister’s Cup winner Rock Choice takes his chance while top filly Clear Geom will also be in the gate. Among older contenders, the prolific winner Dokdo Jigi, a winner of eight from eleven lifetime starts, returns to action for the first time in five months and while he was given an easy time in a barrier trial last week, has plenty of quality about him. As for foreign interest, Thomas Gillespie saddles Toham Ace while Richard Oliver rides Ecton Blade and Ioannis Poullis gets the big leg-up on New Legend.
Race 1: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million
(5) GEOSEN JILU comes in having run 2nd and 3rd in two starts so far, both at 1000M and both times running on well. She steps up in trip for the first time today and could well be the one to beat. (4) DAESEUNG QUEEN ran well for 2nd on debut on October 5th. She too steps up in trip for the first time and looks to be a danger. (7) ILBO DEUNGCHEON does have experience of this distance having run 4th in what was quite a strong race last start and must be considered for improvement. (2) CHOGANGGUK and (8) BAEKDUSAN CHEONJI look to be the best of the rest.
|Selections||(5) Geoseon Jilju (4) Daeseung Queen (7) Ilbo Deungcheon (8) Baekdusan Cheonji|
|Next Best||2, 6|
|Fast Start||5, 6, 7|
Race 2: Class 4 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million
Competitive – if not especially strong – maiden. (6) SHARK JJANG and (4) EAST BAN came home 5th and 6th respectively when they raced each other on September 28th. That was just East Ban’s second start and e should have improvement in him. He’s drawn better today to get to the lead and can win. (2) MUNHAKUI JEONSA already holds a win over 1200M and while he disappointed last start can be given another chance today back at the minimum. (9) POP STREET comes in off a very narrow defeat last time out over 1700M and is interesting dropped all the way back to 1000M today. (5) GOLDEN SERVICE didn’t do much on debut but previously won a trial and can be given another chance.
|Selections||(4) East Ban (2) Munhakui Jeonsa (9) Pop Street (5) Golden Service|
|Next Best||6, 10|
|Fast Start||2, 4, 5,|
Race 3: Class 4 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million
(7) GLOBAL PARTY ran a solid 3rd on debut over this distance on September 21st. He was well beaten by a couple of decent looking ones – the winner has gone on to win again – and should have come on for the run. He’ll be warm favourite here. (5) MUNHAK BOSS was very narrowly defeated in August and then ran a good 3rd last start, both at this distance and can be taken seriously here – he’ll most likely be on the early speed. (6) MANHATTAN MUSIC remains a maiden after sixteen attempts but comes in after a very good 2nd place last time and can aim for a place again. (4) SHU LEUB and first-time starter (10) FIRST DREAM are others to take into account.
|Selections||(7) Global Party (5) Munhak Boss (10) First Dream (6) Manhattan Music|
|Next Best||4, 9|
|Fast Start||1, 2, 5, 10|
Race 4: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million
As weak a maiden as you’ll find at Seoul and accordingly it’s time (6) JANGGUNUI SIDAE made her breakthrough. She’s been more consistent than the rest of these and stepping back up to the trip at which she has a 3rd and a 4th in better company, she should win. (2) KKOKKOMA LADY drops back in trip following a useful 3rd over 1700M last start and should place again. (9) CHOEGANG RUNNER cam improve on what was his first start for Tony Castenheira three weeks ago. (4) GOK MA DAN and (5) BAEKDU GEOPO best of the rest of a limited bunch.
|Selections||(6) Janggunui Sidae (2) Kkokkoma Lady (9) Choegang Runner (4) Gok Ma Dan|
|Next Best||5, 8|
|Fast Start||1, 7|
Race 5: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million
Another weak maiden. (2) ALL MY QUEEN and (7) MILKY SHERRY both come in after registering 4th places in their respective latest outings against better opposition than they face today. Both will look to come from off the pace here and should have a say in the finish. (5) SMART HANSEN registered significant improvement when 3rd over 1000M last start and looks ready to come back up in trip again today. (4) CHUSEOK DAL and (9) WONDERFUL DANCER are both likely to be on pace from the start and both could play a role too.
|Selections||(2) All My Queen (7) Milky Sherry (5) Smart Hansen (9) Wonderful Dancer|
|Next Best||4, 6|
|Fast Start||3, 4, 9|
Race 6: Class 5 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
(4) EAST JET was a three-length winner on debut over this distance on October 5th, making all. He’s up in class today but there’s nothing here that should intimidate him, and he’s favoured to maintain his 100% record. (10) MENI STAND was promoted following a maiden win in August and subsequently ran 2nd on her first try at this class behind promising filly Bisangdeung in September. She can build on that here and go close. (9) WINNER BLUE similarly ran well for 4th on his first outing at this level a month ago and should be in the hunt to go better here. (1) BAEKSANG and (8) CHEONHA YEOJE are others who should go close.
|Selections||(4) East Jet (10) Meni Stand (8) Cheonha Yeoje (9) Winner Blue|
|Next Best||1, 7|
|Fast Start||1, 4, 8, 9|
Race 7: Class 4 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
(6) FASHION PEOPLE registered his maiden win at 1000M in August before running 5th over 1300M on October 5th, just leaving himself a little too much to do. He’s likely to be ridden a little further forward a bit earlier this time and could well return to the winner’s circle. (9) ECHO BILL ran a good 4th on debut three weeks ago, a long way behind the winner but only half a length off 2nd. He can go closer today. (11) UNCLE BELL was less impressive on debut but has some more distance to play with today and can be given another chance. (7) GREAT LEE and (8) FOREVER WINNER are others who can come into consideration.
|Selections||(6) Fashion People (9) Echo Bill (11) Uncle Bell (8) Forever Winner|
|Next Best||7, 4|
|Fast Start||3, 6, 8, 12|
Race 8: Class 3 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 75 Million
(8) GIDONG DAEJANG and (3) FIGHT TODAY came home 3rd and 4th with just a length between them when they raced each other over a mile on September 29th. Neither were well-fancied, but this time both should be in the hunt for the win with the extra half furlong possibly handing the advantage to Fight Today. (7) GOLD HAMMER remains a maiden but steps up in class following a good 2nd place over this distance at the end of September and should be competitive at this level. (1) WILD FIGHT is better than recent results suggest and can be a factor while (5) GEUMSEOK DOLPA looks best of the rest.
|Selections||(3) Fight Today (7) Gold Hammer (8) Gidong Daejang (1) Wild Fight|
|Next Best||5, 10|
|Fast Start||1, 2, 4, 12|
Race 9: Class Open (2000M) Weight for Age “The President’s Cup” (KOR G1) / 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
|Selections||(5) Simjangui Godong (9) New Legend (8) Dokdo Jigi (16) Captain Force|
|Next Best||7, 13, 1|
|Fast Start||1, 5, 6, 7|
Race 10: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
(9) FIGHTING HERO has run 5th and 3rd in two starts since retuning from seven months off. He’s been favourite both times but probably should be again here. He’ll be on pace from the start and can win. It’s been almost a year since (10) LUCKY SOCHEON’s solitary win but she comes in with recent form reading consistently well and she’s a contender today. (8) TIZ ROSE finished down the field in slightly better company than this last start but the time before was a really good winner at the distance and can be given another chance. (4) MASYA and (6) RAON MIRACLE are others in placing contention.
|Selections||(9) Fighting Hero (10) Lucky Socheon (8) Tiz Rose (4) Masya|
|Next Best||6, 12|
|Fast Start||3, 7, 8, 9|
Race 11: Class 4 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
(4) JEONGSANG STAR ran out a four-length winner at this class over 1000M on October 6th. She has an additional 3.5kg to carry and an additional furlong to take care of today but both should be within her and she can win again. She faces a couple of useful up and comers though. Both (3) MYEONGWANG and (8) MENI CHAMP are rapidly up in class having won two of three starts so far. Both of them are also trying further than the minimum distance for the first time but both should be capable of being competitive here, with Meni Champ perhaps the slightly more advanced of the pair at this stage. (2) HANIL DALBIT and (11) NEUL PUREUN CAT are others who should be involved.
|Selections||(4) Jeongsang Star (8) Meni Champ (3) Myeongwang (11) Neul Pureun Cat|
|Next Best||2, 6|
|Fast Start||3, 5, 6, 8|
Race 1: 1, 5, 10, 6
Race 2: 9, 8, 2, 3
Race 3: 8, 2, 10, 6
Race 4: 5, 11, 7, 1
Race 5: 2, 6, 4, 5
Race 6: 4, 9, 1, 7