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 class. He has done his best racing over the 1300 when parked just behind the pacemakers, which he will get the chance to do the same once again today from barrier four. (12) RESKA was a Class 6 winner last time in a field that lacked depth. Winning form is good form but this is tougher.
Selections (10) Geosen Jilju (6) Yeonggwangui Beat (4) Kingly (12) Reska
Next Best 5, 8
Fast Start 10, 12
Race 4: Class 5 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million
It’s fair to say that there isn’t a future champion amongst the runners engaged in the fifth. (4) PRETTY JOY comes out of Class 6 company last start where he saluted on a muddy track. It took him four starts to break maiden status but he ran through the line in good fashion and given the field he has been placed in, she may be able to do it once again. (60 DEO DEO BI is still looking for his maiden victory and was rather disappointing last time out. His runs prior to last start were good and he has shown enough to suggest that he can bounce back and finish in the money. (8) LAO JIN has gone off the boil of late but she has six top three finished from ten starts. Given the lack of depth in this field, Seo Seung-Un will have every chance to collect a cheque. (3) WANY K is another that can figure in a field that doesn’t excite.
Selections (4) Pretty Joy (6) Deo Deo Bi (8) Lao Jin (3) Wany K
Next Best 9, 11
Fast Start 1, 6, 11
Race 5: Class 4 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
The fifth on the card has a field of twelve U.S. imports all looking for their first career victory. Talented rider Yoo Seung-Wan looks to have a strong chance in the form of (4) MUNHAK BOSS. The colt has been knocking on the door in similar company and should get a good run over the 1000m from barrier four. His form lines read well and he looks to map in the first two in running. (9) TRIPLE KINGDOM trialed nicely when qualifying for his first race start. The trial was by no means fast but he did it easy and it will be interesting to see what the colt can do under hard riding. (1) MUNHAK KING has posted two placings from three career starts to date. He was once paced late time out but has shown enough to suggest he can figure in the money. (11) KAILLUM JEWANG ran into a stronger field last time out when well beaten. Look from improvement from the two-year-old who lines up for his second start.
Selections (4) Munhak Boss (9) Triple Kingdom (1) Munhak King (11) Kaillum Jewang
Next Best 11, 10
Fast Start 4, 6
Race 6: Class 4 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
Twelve runners will face the starter in the sixth where there is limited recent form to make a case for many. (10) BEST GUNHAM is the only import engaged and is still looking for his first win. The chestnut is three runs into his current preparation improving at each start. This looks a weaker race than his most recent start and he gets the polished services of the Busan-based Seo Seung-Un. (3) WAWA YEOJANGBU has improved at her past couple of starts. The five-year-old had lost all form during the Summer but she has started to find some form finishing in the top four at her past two starts. (11) I AM STAR has been in the grade for quite some time. He was a winner four starts back and has placed twice since. He’s not normally the fastest away so from barrier eleven it’s envisaged that he will settle well back in the run and do his best work late. (9) TOUR BROTHER is the likely pacemaker in the field. He fell in a metaphoric hole last start and capitulated to run seventh. He can hold on for some minor money in the final stages.
Selections (10) Best Gunham (3) Wawa Yeojangbu (11) I Am Star (9) Tour Brother
Next Best 5, 6
Fast Start 7, 9
Race 7: Class 4 (1700M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million
A field of twelve will go over the two turns in the seventh race. The ever consistent (8) BLUE FIRE looks the one to beat coming off six consecutive top three finishes. Whilst expensive for straight-out punters, the three-year-old has banked some good prizemoney in his fifteen start career. Top rider Yoo Seung-Wan will have his first ride on the gelding, look for him to be driven forward shortly after the gates open. (9) LOVE RACE is having her second start over 1700m after running through the line fairly last time out. The Menifee filly has shown plenty of ability and she will be competitive in this type of race. (2) GALLOP CURLIN steps up to the 1700m for the first time. He’s likely to be in the first half of the field come the top of the straight, especially given he jumps from barrier two. He has placed at his past three starts and if he handles the additional two furlongs can threaten. (1) MYEONGJIN MAN struggled with the rise in weights last time out but has been consistent enough in the past for him to bounce back.
Selections (8) Blue Fire (9) Love Race (2) Gallop Curlin (10) Myeongjin Man
Next Best 7, 3
Fast Start 8
Race 8: Class 4 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million
A field of twelve will once again line up over the 1700m in the eighth. (10) ACHIEVE looks the one to beat after finishing runner up to Myeongjin Man last time out. Although it is not the strongest form line, the field as a whole isn’t the strongest. He’s the standout pacemaker in the race and it looks as if he will take some catching if rated well out in front. (12) RAON KHAN has mixed his form somewhat of late but performed well last time out. He is a previous 1700m winner previously and is likely to find himself well back in the run from the wide draw. (7) GWANAK HAMSEONG is a twenty-nine start maiden but is the third elect, which probably reflects on the strength of this field. The import ran through the line one-paced last time out to finish fourth. (4) MIGHTY WING is another searching for his first win and will get every possible chance rom barrier four.
Selections (10) Achieve (12) Raon Khan (7) Gwanak Hamseong (4) Mighty Wing
Next Best 11, 3
Fast Start 10
Race 9: The 38th Grand Prix Class Open Korean bred (2300M) Handicap / KRW 800 Million
The finale of Korean feature racing for 2019 takes place with the running of the 38th Grand Prix. With Dolkong ruled out due to injury, it leaves with many chances in a field of ten who will face the starter over the testing 2300M. (9) CHEONGDAM DOKKI lines up in the Grand Prix for the third time, with connections hoping he can go one better after finishing 2nd to Triple Nine in last year’s running. He comes off a 2nd in the KRA Cup Classic when finishing behind Dolkong over 2000M. He settled further back than anticipated that day before running through the line strong. He’s a crowd favourite and the grandstand will erupt if he can take out the time-honoured race. (4) SILVER WOLF is the only mare in the race as she attempts to win her sixth straight race. She hasn’t lined up against the boys since March when defeating them over the 1200M. This is no doubt her toughest race in quite some time, but she has been beating the fillies and mares with ease. The speed map has her sitting well back in a race where there are some genuine front-running types. (2) TODAY is one of those front-runners and he looks likely to take up the running from barrier two. The chestnut crossed the line with Cheongdam Dokki in last year’s running with a head separating them, when finishing 3rd. He has had only four runs since last year’s event and three runs since August. He will have fresh legs and comes off a 2nd placing in Kookje Shinmun Cup over 1400M He will give backers a good sight out in front and looks a good each-way investment. (6) GREAT KING has established himself as a consistent staying type. He was a 2200M winner two starts back and followed that up with a win over 2000M. The 2300M should not be an issue for him and the speed map suggests he should sit outside the leader. The Korea Cup winner (7) MOONHAK CHIEF can never be discounted. The only blip in his preparation to date was last start when he looked one-paced through the line, with the likes of (1) SHAMROCKER running over the top of him. (5) SHARK DAEJANGGEUN can reel off a strong sectional and likewise with (3) NEW YORK MANGCHI.
Selections: (9) Cheongdam Dokki (4) Silver Wolf (2) Today (6) Great King
Next Best: 7, 1
Fast Start: 2, 6, 7
Race 10: Class 2 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 90 Million
There appears to be a short-priced favourite on offer in the tenth on the card. (2) TOP BRAIN has excelled of late winning three of his past four and running second behind Heuk Jeonsa last time out. He looks well weighted with 54.5kg and from barrier two should lead and win. One of the best of the day. (5) WONDERFUL FLY was this year’s Derby winner and whilst he has failed to figure in Principal Races since, his form in restricted company has been respectable. The Tiz Wonderful colt was well beaten in the Shinmun Cup last time out but his form prior was fair including a win in Class 3 company. (9) CHOINMA has plenty of ability but has failed to breakthrough of late. He comes out of the same race as Top Brain where he finished fourth. He drops back to the 1400m where his place strike rate is good. (8) TOUR ROSE looks best of the rest finishing fourth last time out in a similar event. His consistency seems to be the query.
Selections (2) Top Brain (5) Wonderful Fly (9) Choinma (8) Tour Rose
Next Best 10, 3
Fast Start 2, 9
Race 11: Class 3 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million
The last on the card looks a good race to finish off Grand Prix day. (10) GO GO BI looks to get a good opportunity to bring up her second career win. The filly finished second in a similar event last time out behind Kiliui Jewang. She is lightly weighted and is likely to scoot forward shortly after the start. (6) SINGSINGMARY comes out off a third placed performance behind Cats Miracle last time out. She is lightly raced with just the five starts and is another that should work forward early. She has been highly competitive in all restricted class races to date and should be kept safe. (4) FLYING BOSS has been racing well of late albeit still a maiden after nineteen starts. He is up in the weight scale considering he hasn’t won a race to date but with the right run can figure. (3) BLUE MA STAR is another one that has failed to be promoted through this class for quite some time. She has finished fourth at her past couple of starts and can pick up some minor money once again.
Selections (10) Go Go Bi (6) Singsing Mary (4) Flying Boss (3) Blue Ma Star
Next Best 7, 1
Fast Start 2, 7
And to round things off, here are selections for Busan:
Race 1: 8, 2, 10, 3
Race 2: 5, 3, 11, 1
Race 3: 2, 4, 1, 3
Race 4: 10, 3, 4, 12
Race 5: 8, 3, 4, 1
Race 6: 6, 5, 1, 8