Raon The Fighter delivered a consummate display of excellence at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon, effortlessly crossing to the front and proceeding to run the rest out of the race to win the KRA Cup Classic (2000M KOR-G2) in front of a raucous 27,000 strong crowd.
Having duelled with Japan’s Sekifu throughout the majority of last month’s international Korea Cup (1800M-IG3) but ultimately tire late on as Winner’s Man came through to take a spectacular victory, Raon The Fighter was sent off as the odds-on favourite to return to winning ways in the principal lead up to the season finale Grand Prix Stakes. The only questions were whether he could get a good position from the widest gate and whether he could see out the extended trip of 2000M, a distance he was tackling for the first time. Those who posed those questions, quickly regretted doing so.
Other than in the Korea Cup, Raon The Fighter’s only defeats had come in sprint races when stumbling at the start and then working too hard to get on terms. This Sunday, he broke beautifully from gate thirteen and jockey Moon Se Young was able to steer him across to the front immediately.
Had anything even wanted to take him on for early speed, it is doubtful whether they could have done such was Raon The Fighter’s authority, although King Of The Match and Tuhonui Banseok would gamely sit within striking distance exchanging 2nd and 3rd positions throughout. Two little accelerations from Raon The Fighter, first at the top of the home straight to put him firmly in the clear, and then again a furlong out when into unchartered territory distance-wise at the furlong pole, and Moon Se Young was left looking behind him to see if there were any dangers.
There were no dangers. Raon The Fighter was eased home for a five-length win with King Of The Match getting closest in 2nd and then a seven-length gap back to Tuhonui Banseok in 3rd. Behind them, 2021 Grand Prix Stakes winner Haengbok Wangja was 4th while Geuma Mystic and Moonhak Chief came home in 5th and 6th.
Raon The Fighter debuted in November 2020, just after racing resumed behind closed doors and for severely restricted prize money. He would have five wins on the board before prizes were restored to meaningful levels the following July and didn’t get to run in a Group race until November 2021 when he destroyed Eoma Eoma in the SROA Chairmans Trophy (1200M KOR-G3).
The KRA Cup Classic is Raon The Fighter’s third Group win having also won the Busan Owners’ Cup (1600M KOR-G3) this July. The four-year-old entire, who is by Bayern and out of Empire Maker mare Clarinda, is owned by Son Chun-soo of the ever-growing Raon racing empire which stands the stallion Musket Man. He is trained by Park Jong-kon, who now almost exclusively trains Raon horses. For trainer Park, it was a fourth KRA Cup Classic after Mari Daemul in 2013 and Cheongdam Dokki in 2017 and 2018. For jockey Moon Se-young, it was a third win in the race, having partnered Pocketful Of Money in 2007 and Cheongdam Dokki in 2017.
The logical next step for Raon The Fighter would be the Grand Prix Stakes in December and a possible rematch with Winner’s Man, who will most likely be contesting the President’s Cup next month. There are two big stars in Korean racing right now, and they will collide again soon enough.