Day: December 10, 2022

Grand Prix Stakes Sunday: Seoul & Busan Race-By-Race Preview (December 11)

It’s Grand Prix Stakes Sunday with the traditional season finale bringing together sixteen of the country’s best horses at Seoul for the 2300M Group 1 test. See here for a full runner-by-runner guide. The Grand Prix is race 8 on the 11-race program at Seoul which runs from 10:45 to 18:00. There is also a 6-race card at Busan from 12:15 to 16:45. The Grand Prix is at 16:15. Here are all the previews:

Haengbok Wangja won last year’s Grand Prix. He returns to try to defend his title on Sunday (Pic: KRA)

Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

Juvenile filly maidens in the opener with three of the small field of eight racing for the first time.  (8) RAON CITY GIRL has race twice and was an improved 3rd in the second of them over this distance on November 6th when handy throughout and finishing in a fast time. The small field means she should be able to get on pace again and she is the one to beat. The biggest danger looks to be one of the first timers. (1) EINSPANNER was an on-pace 2nd in her trial in a fair time and from a great draw can put in a bold showing first up. (2) BLUE ARCH has raced twice at this distance and just like Raon City Girl, she improved in the second of them, settling handy and running on for 4th. With some more improvement she can be in the mix here. (3) GEOMIBULU is a debut-maker who must be taken seriously having won her trial in November when settling midfield and running on. (7) GROW can improve on her midfield finish on debut.

Selections(8) Raon City Girl (1) Einspanner (2) Blue Arch (3) Geomibulu
Next Best7, 6
Fast Start1, 2, 4, 8

Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

More juvenile filly maidens this time with four of the eight making their racing debuts. (7) ICE CREAM will be the hot favourite. She led for much of her debut at this distance on October 16th, ultimately finishing back in 4th but with close margins and a quick time. She should have derived benefit from the experience and if she runs to that level again, she should win. (1) NANGJU YEOGEOL has raced twice already, finishing 5th both times and stopping the clock in exactly the same time. A similar run will put her into the places here. Among the first-time starters, (2) BULGOM MADRE looks to be the pick. She came from off the pace to win her trial in a fair time and if she brings that form to the races, she can go close in this company. (4) GREEN SPECTER led for most of her trial, crossing the line 2nd. She draws well to be on pace and can be in this a long way on debut. (3) GOOD SIMON perhaps needs trying at further but can aim for minor money.

Selections(7) Ice Cream (1) Nangju Yeogeol (2) Bulgom Madre (4) Green Specter
Next Best3, 8
Fast Start1, 4, 7, 8

Seoul Race 3: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

Juvenile maidens again, this time open to colts as well as fillies. Four of the eight race for the first time. (8) GEOSEN CHAMP is the favourite. He ran an improved 4th at start number two over this distance on November 5th, beginning slowly and then settling right back before finishing strongly, well beaten by winner Farciarz but posting a more than respectable time. With some natural improvement, he may take some beating. (6) RICH GATE ran pleasingly enough for a midfield finish in a good time on debut on October 30th. He can have benefited for the run and can be in the mix here. (3) HALLSTATT and (4) SEUNGRIUI YEONGHON both put in fair efforts on their respective debuts and can build on them here with the latter likely to be on the early pace. The first-time staters didn’t exactly leap out of the trial highlights reels. (7) CHRYSOL SMILE is the first foal by 2016 Korea Cup winner Chrysolite to make the track.

Selections(8) Geosen Champ (6) Rich Gate (3) Hallstatt (4) Seungriui Yeonghon
Next Best7, 2
Fast Start2, 4, 6

Busan Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

Juvenile maidens get things underway on the south coast with two of the ten racing for the first time. (3) HANEUL SEUNGNI races for the third time, having run 3rd and 2nd in two previous outings, both at 1000M and both in good times. He draws nicely to lead here and can go all the way. (6) STAR FURY went through two October trials, improving significantly in the second of them (which as it was a voluntary trial, may not appear in all race cards). In that trial he crossed the line within two-lengths of Touch Star Man and Top Mate, experienced winners (the former a Classic winner) and he can be given a chance here. (1) STORMY DAY beat a couple of these on his way to a very creditable 4th place over this distance on debut on November 13th. He doesn’t have the benefit of an apprentice claim today, but that’s balanced somewhat by a better draw, and he can go close. (7) DALLILLAEYO was 5th in that race on November 13th when settling right back and running on. That was an improvement from his debut, and he can continue to make progress here. (4) REMEMBER ME another who can improve.

Selections(3) Haneul Seungni (6) Star Fury (1) Stormy Day (7) Dallillaeyo
Next Best4, 5
Fast Start3, 5, 6, 8

Seoul Race 4: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

Juvenile filly maidens. (1) HANGANG JILJU looks ready to win. She improved at start number three when an on the pace 4th over 1000M and coming up in trip for the first time and from a good draw, may take some beating. (7) BAEDARI GONGJU has made steady progress across three outings so far, with her 4th place on what was her first try at this distance on November 13th, her best so far. She has tended to get a bit far back in her races but can run on and challenge here. (8) GANGCHEOL YEOGEOL similarly demonstrated improvement at start number two. She has drawn wide every time so far, but in today’s smaller field, it may not be much of a hindrance. (4) CATS WOMAN and (6) RED TAEPUNG are others with claims on the minors

Selections(1) Hangang Jilju (7) Baedari Gongju (8) Gangcheol Yeogeol (4) Cats Woman
Next Best6, 2
Fast Start1, 2, 3, 6

Busan Race 2: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

Another maiden where it is hard to look past the favourite. (4) PAN STAR has steadily improved across three starts to date, culminating in a runner-up finish over 1200M on November 18th when she came close to making all. The additional half furlong shouldn’t be an issue and she can go one better today. (6) HEARTBREAKER also improved at start number two on November 11th when sitting midfield and getting back well for 3rd over 1200M. He stretches out a little further in trip today and with some natural improvement, he can go close. (5) ADELE HORANGI has four top-five finishes from his five starts to date. His best was a second place in October over this distance when handy to the speed and he can be a danger here. (8) JEONGMUN CHITA and (7) BOOMY STAR the others in the hunt.



It’s the one they all want to win.  The Korea Cup may offer more prize money, but the Grand Prix Stakes (2300M KOR-G1) is into its fortieth year as the traditional finale to the Korean racing season and no owner, trainer or jockey can say their career is complete without a win on their CV.

Raon The Fighter and Moon Se Young will be bidding to win the Grand Prix on Sunday (Pic: KRA)

This year a full field of sixteen are set to go to post at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon, nine from the host track and seven from Busan, to decide the title of champion Korean racehorse of 2022. The defending champion, Haengbok Wangja is among them, but all eyes will be the rematch between Winner’s Man and Raon The Fighter, winner and runner-up in the international Korea Cup.

Both have raced once since that day in September, and it is Raon The Fighter who enters in the better form. He was a spectacular winner of the KRA Cup Classic (2000M KOR-G2) and from a plum draw in gate two, he is set to start the favourite. Not that Winner’s Man will mind his wide draw. Last Year’s Korean Derby winner could only manage 3rd in the President’s Cup (2000M KOR-G1) in November but that was his first defeat of the year, and he is sure to put in a big effort again.

The President’s Cup winner Raon First bids to become the first filly or mare to win the race since Gamdonguibada in 2012, while the consistent King Of The Match, 2nd to Raon The Fighter in the Cup Classic is another in the top line of contenders. Here is a full run-down of the field:

1. GEUMA MYSTIC – Yet to win at class 1 level but was 3rd in the YTN Cup in May and 5th in KRA Cup Classic in October, both over 2000M. At the latter he sat back and ran on and while he doesn’t shape as a winning chance here, he can give a good account of himself.

2. RAON THE FIGHTER – The most exciting galloper in Korea right now, he was runner-up in the Korea Cup and subsequently won the KRA Cup Classic (2000M KOR-G2) when he used his natural speed to easily cross to the lead from a wide draw and then exploded into the straight before being eased in the closing stages. That was his first try at 2000M and there’s no reason 2300M should be a problem. Will look to lead from a great draw and is a winning chance. Jockey Moon Se-young is bidding for his second win in the race, fifteen years after his first, on Bally Brae in 2007.

3. SARYEONI FIRST – A progressive three-year-old, the only one in the race, he ran 4th in the Minister’s Cup over 2000M in June. He comes in having won his latest three up to class 3 level and 1800M, but he has been campaigned with this race in mind. The distance seems likely to suit and he gets the three-year-old weight allowance.

4. KING OF THE MATCH – A consistent performer, if non-winner, in elite races this year with standouts being 4th in the Korea Cup and 2nd in the KRA Cup Classic, this race has always clearly been the target. In the Classic, he raced further forward than usual, settling handy, and he benefited. At the furlong pole, while not making ground on Raon The Fighter, he was running away from the rest. Ignore his 4th at 1400M last month. Distance should suit and settling handy again, he has a chance. You Hyun-myung, who won the Grand Prix on Mister Park in 2010 is in the saddle