The season finale Grand Prix Stakes takes place at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday. It’s no longer the richest race in the nation, nor the biggest in terms of betting, but it’s the oldest race on the Korean calendar and one that everybody wants to win. This year the race is sponsored by MBC and will be shown live on their MBC Sports+ channel. There are 11 races at Seoul from 10:45 to 18:00 while at Busan there are 6 from 12:40 to 17:10.
Cheongdam Dokki, 4th two years ago and runner-up last year, is set to be favourite. Here’s the long version of the video preview:
And the shorter version:
Horse by horse:
- SHAMROCKER – A horse with far more talent than his 6 wins from 37 starts suggests, the six-year-old has spent his career running in the best races and chasing home the best horses, first Clean Up Joy, then Cheongdam Dokki and Moonhak Chief. This is his first time in this race, but he comes in having been his usual solid self over the season. He probably can’t win this, but he will run on strong late and can run into some money. He is the only horse in the race to have won at this distance – albeit a long time ago.
- TODAY – A revelation a year ago when 3rd to Triple Nine having briefly led close to home. He was still thought of as a sprinter then having never previously run further than a mile. He backed up his staying credentials by winning over 2000M a month later but then suffered an injury which kept him out of action until September when he returned in the Korea Sprint. That was too much too soon but he was 3rd to Dolkong and Cheongdam Dokki in the Cup Classic in October and then 2nd to stablemate Baengmunbaekdap over 1400M three weeks ago. He may be peaking at the right time. He’ll aim to lead from the start.
- NEW YORK MANGCHI – Stablemate of Today and not to be overlooked. He has though been handily beaten by Great King of two of his latest three starts – although he did previously beat him – which suggests he may well be found wanting when facing the very best here. Distance shouldn’t be a problem – he was 2nd to Great King over 2200M in September. Capable of running fast sectionals late on but may have too much to do.
- SILVER WOLF – The great mare. She’s a perfect five for five in 2019 although with the rules changed this year enabling her to participate in the Queens’ Tour races, she’s only faced the boys on one occasion. That was the Seoul Owners’ Association Trophy over 1200M where an out of sorts Cheongdam Dokki was among those she beat. We learned little from her three easy Queens’ Tour wins except that she is in good form. She ran in this race two years ago and found it tough but is arguably better now. A big placing chance.
- SHARK DAEJANGGEUN – By some margin the lowest rated horse in the field although he does tend to take on stiff company. Ran a good 2nd in the JRA Trophy on international weekend in September before finishing an excellent 5th in the President’s Cup a month ago. He is a closer so the additional trip will likely suit him, but the quality of the opposition should be too much here.
- GREAT KING – Enters in very good form having won his latest two in fine fashion leading all the way over 2200M and 2000M. with the likes of New York Mangchi, Jumbo Blade and Dongbang Daero behind him. He’ll go to the front here and while leading for the entire 2300M at Seoul is no easy task, he looks a quality horse who should go close.
- MOONHAK CHIEF – Sixth last year, he made his breakthrough at the elite level when winning the YTN Cup by a full twelve-lengths back in May before pushing Dolkong very close in the Busan Mayor’s Cup the following month. He then beat Cheongdam Dokki to comfortably win the international Korea Cup over 1800M in September. A lackluster performance in the KRA Cup Classic in October is of some concern but if he’s at his best, he will be a big danger. Antonio Da Silva, who rode him in Busan this summer, replaces the injured Moon Se Young aboard. He’ll be challenging for the lead at the start.
- JUMBO BLADE – A decent competitor but he has been beaten by several of these in his recent outings and form of 6th, 5th and 5th doesn’t inspire a huge amount of confidence. Likely to settle in the middle of the pack, he should see out the trip without any problems, but the competition looks too stiff.
- CHEONGDAM DOKKI – Could it finally be his year? He has a 4th and a 2nd to his name in the race and he enters the likely favourite. He had a difficult start to the year but his performances in his latest two outings when 2nd in both the Korea Cup and the KRA Cup Classic suggest that he is – if not back to his absolute best – at least somewhere approaching it. Whereas in the past two runnings he has set the early pace, this time he’ll most likely be content to let others do the early work. He is the one to beat.
- DONGBANG DAERO – Ran a huge 2nd to Power Blade in this race two years ago, finishing superbly and only denied a head at odds in excess of 150/1. His form since has only been patchy though and he comes in having been well beaten in his latest two. We know he likes the track and the distance suits, but it would be a big surprise were he to repeat his former heroics
And race by race for Seoul:
Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million
The first on the card will see twelve Korean-bred gallopers go over the short course. Hansen filly (3) ONE AND ONLY gets a good opportunity to notch a win at her second start. She was good on debut when finishing fourth running a fast time when compared to her opposition in this assignment. She has drawn well and should take improvement from her first run. (6) LADY KELLY trialed well when qualifying for her first start. She was strong through the line and should be ready for a forward showing at her first start. (5) BAEKSAN THUNDER sat on speed at her first start before feeling the pinch late. She still clocked a good time given the track rating, expect improvement as from the Thunder Moccasin filly. (9) GRAND FLY looks the best of the rest handing in a fair trial performance.
Selections (3) One And Only (6) Lady Kelly (5) Baeksan Thunder (9) Grand Fly
Next Best 4, 1
Fast Start 3, 5
Race 2: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million
A field of twelve Korean bred maidens will go over the 1300m in the second event. (11) P.K. DOLPUNG was much-improved last time out when finishing second behind Jangsu Nabom. Lee Hyeok put him into the race early last start and it is assumed that he will employ those tactics once again. He has drawn wide but look for him to come across shortly after they jump. (7) SISEONJIPJUNG ran on strong from well last time out over the 1300m. Well performed rider Lim Gi-Won will ride the Volponi colt for the first time. He struggles to muster speed early so expect another strong sectional from him. (3) SUN FIGHTING is a place chance if she continues to improve. She is lightly weighted and has drawn well. (9) ACE SHINE has placed at his past two starts. He drops back significantly in distance to 1300m and will have to lump the top weight from a wide draw. Johan Victoire, who comes off a riding treble last weekend will be looking to settle the Colors Flying colt in the first half of the field.
Selections (11) P.K. Dolpung (7) Siseonjipjung (3) Sun Fighting (9) Ace Shine
Next Best 8, 11
Fast Start 8, 9, 11
Race 3: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
The third on the card is wide open with several chanced engaged. Two-year-old filly (10) GEOSEN JILJU saluted over this distance last start when breaking maiden status is Class 6 company. She posted an impressive time for this class when leading throughout, expect Park Eul-Woon to work forward from the wide draw and try and take up the running once again. (6) YEONGGWANGUI BEAT cannot be discounted as a winning chance. The Clear Attempt gelding ran on last start from near last to finish second behind Dynamic Punch. Yoo Seung-Wan will be legged aboard him for his assignment, it appears he has options as the horse has previously been settled both on speed or worse than midfield. (4) KINGLY is still looking for his first victory but ran a handy race last time out in this (more…)