Temperatures plunged below zero across Korea at the weekend, but jockey Antonio Da Silva was in red-hot form, riding four winners across Sunday’s valuable card. Meanwhile on the penultimate weekend of the season, Luigi Riccardi saddled his 100th winner in the country to move within one victory of Park Jong-kon at the summit of the capital’s Trainer Premiership.
Da Silva got his first on the board in race 2, partnering Tony Castanheira’s Choegang Mirae to a five-length maiden victory. He followed up in race 4, the first of six Trophy races on the day benefitting the Retired Racehorse Welfare fund.
His ride on the juvenile Nut Play, who was stepped up to a mile for the first time, was typical Da Silva, boldly settling back despite having drawn the coveted inside gate over the Mile distance that has tended to favour front-runners. He waited patiently before finding the narrowest of gaps in the home straight and then unleashing his mount, who romped to an eight-length victory.
Further successes for Da Silva would come in race 6 with Tiz Barows, who was winning for the first time since finishing 4th in this Year’s Korean Derby, and in race 8 on Wonpyeong Cod, who got the better of a final furlong duel with favourite Double Edge.
Brazilian Da Silva debuted full time in Korea in 2017 after riding in Singapore and now has 295 winners in the country. He has three Group wins on his local resume having partnered Dolkong in the G2 KRA Cup Classic and Moonhak Chief in the G1 Grand Prix Stakes, both in 2019, and then Choegang Black in the 2021 Korean Oaks.
Choegang Black was the first Korean Group race winner for Luigi Riccardi and the Italian trainer, who also debuted at Seoul in 2017, passed another milestone on Sunday by reaching one hundred winners in the country.
Having saddled juveniles Black Motion and G Motion to victory on Saturday, Riccardi sent out debut-maker Wonderful Slew in Sunday’s race 1 and the filly (whose 2nd dam is Worldly Pleasure, the dam of American champion Game On Dude) ran on for a narrow half-length win under jockey Jeong Jeong-hee, who also partnered both of Riccardi’s winners on Saturday.
Those victories temporarily moved Riccardi up to 2nd place in the 2022 Seoul Trainer Premiership, before Seo In-seok struck back with Tiz Barows to join him on 42 winners for the year and move ahead on the tie-break by virtue of having one more runner-up. The pair are just one winner behind Park Jong-kon, who backed by the firepower of Raon, heads the Premiership with 43.
There is just one more weekend of racing to come and it isn’t inconceivable that it could all come down to the final race of the year, a class 3 sprint over 1200M at 6pm on Christmas Day. That race could see one of Riccardi’s up-and-comers Trotting Riley face off with Park’s Gwacheon Mayor’s Trophy winner Raon Giant with potentially the title on the line.
Racing resumes in Korea with a nine-race program on Friday December 23rd. On Christmas Eve there are ten races at Seoul while Christmas Day itself sees eleven races at Seoul and six at Busan to round out the season.