Month: January 2023

Busan Friday: Race-By-Race Preview (January 27)

After a week off for the Lunar New Year holiday, racing returns to Korea this weekend. Things get underway on Friday at Busan with a 10-race card from 11:00 to 18:00. It’s quite a star studded line-up for a Friday as Speed Young, who won the Breeders’ Cup Champion Juvenile race in December, goes in race 9 while filly Triple Crown winner Golden Power seeks to return to form in a very challenging race 10. Here are the previews:

Speed Young makes his three-year-old debut at Busan on Friday (Pic: KRA)

Busan Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

Three-year-old maiden fillies get things underway with five of the twelve racing for the first time. We’ll side with experience though and (11) AMAZING MOVE who, after a positive trial, ran a solid enough 5th on debut on December 18th, settling back and running on. That suggests the wide draw shouldn’t be too problematic here and having derived benefit from that run, she can win here. (6) ACE HORANGI was well backed on debut in the same December 18th after a quick trial and while she could only manage 7th, she can improve here. (3) GIJEOGUI GEUMBIT is another who ran 5th on debut at this distance on Christmas Day, overcoming a wide draw. The time was significantly slower than Amazing Move’s and Ace Horangi’s but she too can make progress today. As for the first timers, (2) MAGIC SWEETIE and (5) UNJU AKANSHA look the most likely to make an immediate impact.

Selections(11) Amazing Move (6) Ace Horangi (3) Gijeogui Geumbit (2) Magic Sweetie
Next Best5, 8
Fast Start2, 3, 5, 9

Busan Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

Three-year-old maidens. (12) GEUMA DEFT beat three of these on debut on December 16th over 1000M when crossing the line 1st and stopping the clock in a fast time only to be demoted by the stewards for interference. He has the challenge of the widest gate here, but the manner of that run suggests that with a touch of luck at the start and a touch more discipline at the finish, he can finish ahead of those same rivals today. (2) DUBAI WONJEONGDAE ran 4th in that race. He was a full ten-lengths behind Geuma Deft but the step up in trip can suit and he can get closer today. There are three first time starters and among them (6) HAVE A GOOD YEAR was the best in trials. He went through two heats, significantly improving in the second of them when leading for much of the way around. He can be on pace here and put in a bold showing. (5) ROAD TO GLORY and (9) RUN TO KING other placing hopes.

Selections(12) Geuma Deft (2) Dubai Wonjeongdae (6) Have A Good Year (5) Road To Glory
Next Best9, 7
Fast Start1, 4, 6, 12

Busan Race 3: Class 6 (1400M) KRW 25 Million

A regular maiden here and it seems wide open.  Four of them raced each other over 1300M on December 23rd and that looks to be a good reference. (11) PURPLE LINE debuted in that race, settling towards the rear of midfield and running on for 3rd. He should have come on for that experience, the extra distance can suit, and he has as good a chance as any here. It will require him to make up almost two lengths on (6) COOL RUNNING. He led that December 23rd race until the closing stages, ultimately coming home in 2nd place. He has shown improvement across his three starts so far, he can be on pace again, and he shouldn’t be ruled out. Also making progress over three previous appearances has been (12) VEREUDA. She finished off well for 4th in that December 23rd race from a similarly wide draw to today, and she can continue to improve here. Of those who didn’t go in the December 23rd race, (7) DOCTOR SHARK and (2) PEGACORN look the best.

Selections(11) Purple Line (6) Cool Running (12) Vereuda (7) Doctor Shark
Next Best2, 9
Fast Start2, 4, 6, 10

Busan Race 4: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

Fillies (and two mares) only and it’s a good race for the level. (3) SPECIAL ROAD justified favourite status to make all at start number two on December 18th over 1200M, winning comfortable. She comes up in class and distance here but draws very nicely and has every chance of scoring again. So too (4) GRAPHENE RAP WORLD. Having won over five furlongs in a super quick time back in November, she than ran a solid 3ns on her first try at this class over 1200M on December 16th. She does come up in the weights here but draws well and the additional half furlong can suit. (2) BLUE ICON is yet to win but enters off three consecutive runner-up finishes, most recently at class and distance on December 23rd when on pace throughout. She draws very nicely here and it’s not impossible she could go one better at last. (5) THUNDER FURY has placed at this class and along with up in class (7) DALEHOLRINGWANGDAE is another in the hunt.

Selections(3) Special Road (4) Graphene Rap World (2) Blue Icon (5) Thunder Fury
Next Best7, 6
Fast Start2, 3, 4, 6

Busan Race 5: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million

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Seoul & Busan Sunday: Race-By-Race Preview (January 15)

Sunday racing is at Seoul (11 races from 10:40 to 18:00) and at Busan (6 races from 11:05 to 15:40). A reminder there is no racing next weekend due to the Lunar New Year holiday so it is big fields all around. Here are the previews:

Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

Three-year-old maiden fillies in the opener. (1) TIZ INDY has run twice for 2nd and 4th over 1000M both in good times. She comes up in trip for the first time but draws very nicely and she has every chance. (5) SAENAE VIVA debuted without distinction in August but looked a much better proposition when returning on December 3rd and running 3rd when handy throughout. She can get closer today and that can mean overturning the form on (11) JEONGSANG LUCKY. The latter overcame the same wide draw to run 2nd in that December 3rd race and while she may need a touch of luck again, she shouldn’t be ruled out. Also done no favours by the draw is (12) DASI TAEEONADO. She has a 2nd place to her name over 1000M and ran on pleasingly enough for 5th last time out at 1200M. (2) SEMYEONG LADY is among others with the potential to improve.

Selections(1) Tiz Indy (5) Saenae Viva (11) Jeongsang Lucky (12) Dasi Taeeonado
Next Best2, 5
Fast Start2, 3, 5, 6

Busan Race 1: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

Three-year-old filly maidens. The most experienced in the race is (10) DOCTOR SHARK and she’s the one that gets the pick. She secured back-to-back 3rd place finishes over 1000M and 1200M in October and November before running 5th over 1400M when drawn in the widest gate last time out on December 16th. The draw isn’t kind here either, but she may have too much. (12) WONDERFUL PHONE came from off the pace to run 2nd behind a good winner on debut on December 23rd. The way she finished off that day suggests the additional trip can suit and she will probably start as favourite. (7) SKY MOUNTAIN was an on-pace 4th on debut on December 9th over 1000M. She should have derived benefit from that experience and can be there or thereabouts today. (6) STREET ROCK didn’t do much on debut but comes in here under a very light weight and can improve. It’s a similar story with (1) TOO CUTE GIRL, who draws much better than on debut.

Selections(10) Doctor Shark (12) Wonderful Phone (7) Sky Mountain (6) Street Rock
Next Best1, 11
Fast Start7, 8, 10, 11

Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

Three-year-old maidens with six of the twelve racing for the very first time. We’ll side with experience and (2) GEOMIBULU. After winning a November trial, she was installed as favourite for her debut appearance over 1000M on December 11th when she sat midfield in a small field and ran on for 2nd place. She was well beaten by a good winner, but the run was encouraging enough for her to warrant another chance on top here.  Among the first timers (11) SAEBYEOK ANGAE could be the best. She improved significantly in her second trial, running on well and can be set for a bold showing first up. (7) DONGHAENG FIRST debuted promisingly enough on December 17th running 4th over 1000M. She should have derived benefit from that and build on it here. Both (3) NAVY CHROME and (6) THUNDER BLUE return to action for the first time since July. Both trialled well and can be considered first-up.

Selections(2) Geomibulu (11) Saebyeok Angae (7) Donghaeng First (3) Navy Chrome
Next Best6, 9
Fast Start2, 3, 7, 9

Busan Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

(7) PHANTOM ACE is yet to win in eleven attempts but has been getting closer in recent outings with a 2nd and a 3rd in his latest two, both at this distance. With an apprentice claiming 4kg he is very nicely weighted here, and it could be his day. (2) MULTI HIT comes in off a 4th place at start number two at this distance on December 11th when handy throughout. He draws well again and can be dangerous here. (1) YEONGGWANGUITUHON has run fairly in all three appearances to date including a spin around in the Listed Gimhae Mayor’s Trophy. From a great draw, he should be right in this. (5) CHEERFUL LIFE can build on his debut5th place over 1000M when breaking fairly before going right back and running on. He draws better today and should be better for the run. (8) GLOBAL SKY among others with the potential to improve.

Selections(7) Phantom Ace (2) Multi Hit (1) Yeonggwanguituhon (5) Cheerful Life
Next Best8, 11
Fast Start5, 6, 8, 12

Seoul Race 3: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

Three-year-old filly maidens. It’s fair to say that (12) CHEONJON CHAT has mixed her form across six starts so far but she gets the nod here based on her last start 2nd place over this distance on December 18th when she was on pace and finished in a time quicker than any of the others have managed for the distance. She draws wide but with a touch of luck at the start, she’ll be the one to beat. (6) RAON CITY GIRL comes up in trip for the first time. She too has mixed her form, but she did post a very quick time over 1000M when 3rd in November. She should be on pace here and the additional furlong can suit. (4) TANSAN comes in after a best finish to date of 3rd place in that December 18th race when settling slightly worse than midfield and finishing well. She has five-lengths to make up on Cheonjon Chat but can get closer with a much better draw. (2) BLUE ARCH and (5) SEOULEUL NALDA among others in at least the placing frame.

Selections(12) Cheonjon Chat (6) Raon City Girl (4) Tansan (2) Blue Arch
Next Best5, 8
Fast Start2, 6, 7, 12

Busan Race 3: Class 5 (1600M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

(11) FINAL SEVEN overcame gate ten to get on pace and run 2md behind Young Boss on his first try at this class over 1400M on December 16th. He steps up to a mile for the first time today but looks a progressive type with just four starts behind him and an apprentice jockey aboard brings his weight right down. (8) CHANGCHANG DAERO also steps up to a mile for the first time. He has only raced four times but has a smart win over 1200M as well as a last start 3rd at this class over 1400M to his name. He looks to have scope for more. (9) GREEN PAPAGO has beaten a few of these in her latest appearances, all at a mile. The wide draw shouldn’t be a problem and she can be a big factor here. (3) QUEEN OF SPIRIT, who beat Changchang Daero at 1400M last time out, and (7) QUEEN STAR among plenty of others capable of placing.

Selections(11) Final Seven (8) Changchang Daero (9) Green Papago (3) Queen Of Spirit
Next Best7, 1
Fast Start2, 8, 10, 11

Seoul Race 4: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

There isn’t much positive form here. (4) SUBAL DORIANG come sin off a 2nd place over this distance on December 17th when handy throughout. It continued a pattern of him getting closer and is enough to put him on top here. (12) MY GONGJU was touch disappointing when stepped up to 1700M last time and well backed. Drawn wide he was unable to find a position on the short run to the first turn and scarcely figured. Go on his previous start at this trip though and he is firmly in this. (7) DESIRE TO WIN came home in 4th place behind Subal Doriang in that December 17th race. He has steadily improved across four starts so far and if he can maintain that momentum, can be in the mix here. (2) GHOST CHARM and (8) EFFEL TAP among others in the hunt. 

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Seoul Saturday: Race-By-Race Preview (January 14)

There has been plenty of rain across the country over the past day or so and that’s set to continue into the weekend. On the plus side, the temperatures should be very mild compared to last week’s arctic blast. Saturday’s racing is at Seoul with 12 races from 10:40 to 18:00. Here are the previews:

Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

Three-year-old maidens in the opener with just three of them having raced before. (6) ORCHID VALLEY overcame gate ten and a slow start on debut over 1000M on December 17th to run 2nd in a good time. He should have come on for the run and the way he worked home suggests that the additional furlong will be to his benefit. (5) PEERLESS also came from off the pace on debut, running 3rd in an all-filly race over 1000M. She too should have derived benefit from that run and can go close here. Of the newcomers, (3) MIR QUALITY looks the pick. He made all in his trial and while the time was not quick, he was within himself, and a bold showing is possible first-up. (12) FLY DAY is done no favours by the draw but showed well in his heat and can be considered. (4) CUPID CHIC can build on her 7th place on debut in November.

Selections(6) Orchid Valley (5) Peerless (3) Mir Quality (12) Fly Day
Next Best4, 7
Fast Start1, 3, 4, 12

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

More three-year-old maidens although all of these have raced at least once before. (3) NAOL GONI will be favourite having run 4th on debut and then followed up with 2nd on his reappearance on December 17th when he led almost the entire way around. He draws well to be on pace again, the additional half furlong should pose no issues, and he should go one better here. (8) RAON THE CHARLIE has been showing steady progress across three starts so far, culminating in 3rd place at his latest on December 10th when settling right back and running on. That was his first try at 1200M and stretching out further today should help. (5) LEGAL HIGH used up plenty of energy getting to the front from a wide draw last time out and then weakened but should get an easier run here. (10) SEONGEUN CROWN and (12) SAVANA CHARLIE the other logical place chances.

Selections(3) Naol Goni (8) Raon The Charlie (5) Legal High (10) Seongeun Crown
Next Best12, 4
Fast Start2, 3, 5, 11

Seoul Race 3: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

(3) BAEDAERI WANGJA has been consistent across four starts so far and while his 2nd place on debut over 1000M may be his best finish, he has run on well in his latest two, finishing 4th both times over 1200M. There isn’t much early speed here so from a good draw he may well be closer to the pace than usual, and this could be his day. (1) BADAUI KKUM has been knocking on the door in his latest few appearances. He can settle handy here and should be running on into some money again. (5) POWERFUL SOCKS stepped up to this distance for the first time on December 12th and it seemingly suited as he was an on-pace 2nd on a fast time. He will surely be on the speed here and will be in this a long way. (9) BOSS BABY and (8) STAND BY ME are others in at least the placing hunt.

Selections(3) Baedari Wangja (1) Badaui Kkum (5) Powerful Socks (9) Boss Baby
Next Best8, 11
Fast Start2, 3, 5, 7

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

It’s hard to go far past (1) STRENGTH here. After a fast 4th on debut over 1000M, he came up to this trip for his second start on December 17th and ran a close 3rd, sitting handy throughout. He draws well to be on the pace, and it would be a surprise if he didn’t lead from gate to wire. The form of the rest is patchy, to say the least. (10) MIGHTY SSEN has hinted at ability in two efforts over 1000M. He has finished off both times well and may appreciate the step up in trip today. (3) SMARTY GLORY managed a 2nd place two starts back over 1000M, working home strongly. She never got going after a slow start on her first try at this distance on December 18th but is worth another chance here. (7) FIRST CHOUX returns to action following six months out and trialled fairly enough to suggest he can beat plenty of these. (2) RAON JUMP another with the potential to improve.

Selections(1) Strength (10) Mighty Ssen (3) Smarty Glory (7) First Choux
Next Best2, 12
Fast Start1, 5, 9, 12

Seoul Race 5: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million

(10) BULGOM MADRE remains a maiden but comes up in class having finished as runner-up on both starts to date, only narrowly going down last time out over this distance. This isn’t the most intimidating class 5 field and while she draws wide, she doesn’t need to lead and has every chance of measuring up. (4) NAOL CHEONJI was a winner on debut and followed up with a 3rd place on her first try at this level in November. She couldn’t follow up at 1300M on December 10th but even so, she still finished ahead of a couples of today’s rivals and that’s enough to put her in contention here. (11) COMPLETE FORCE also beat a couple on his first try at the level. That came when on pace over 200M on November 20th and finishing 5th. The draw is not ideal as he seems to prefer to be on the seed but with a touch of luck at the start, he can be a danger. (12) GEOMEUN JILJU and (2) RIVER TAEYANG among others who can enter the calculations.

Selections(10) Bulgom Madre (4) Naol Cheonji (11) Complete Force (12) Geomeun Jilju
Next Best2, 3
Fast Start1, 4, 11, 12

Seoul Race 6: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

Fillies (and two mares) only here. (4) EINSPANNER was a coast-to-coast winner on debut over 1000M on December 11th and while up in both class and distance today, both can be overcome and she can maintain her 100% record, probably from on pace again. This isn’t an easy race though. (3) BURUI KKOT is yet to win in nine starts but has eight top0five finishes including a last start 2nd at class and distance on December 17th. She comes up in the weights today but draws well and it’s not impossible that today could be her day. (8) HIDDEN BLADE enters off a desperately close 2nd place at class and distance on November 5th. She too comes up in the weights, but a similar run will put her firmly in the mix again. (12) CONCORD QUEEN and (5) HUIMANG GADEUK others in the frame.

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Haengbok Wangja & King Of The Match set for Dubai Debuts on Friday

Two Korea-trained horses are set to make their Dubai World Cup Carnival debuts this week with both Haengbok Wangja and King Of The Match among eleven declared for the inaugural Thunder Snow Challenge over 2000M on the dirt at Meydan on Friday.

Now six-years-old, HAENGBOK WANGJA (USA) [Daredevil – First Installment (Broken Vow)] is a winner of eight of twenty-two career starts and won the Grand Prix Stakes (2300M KOR-G1) in 2021. With the emergence of Winner’s Man and Raon The Fighter, he didn’t go on to have the dominant 2022 that some predicted, instead going winless in six starts but managed 5th in the Korea Cup (1800M I-G3) and 4th in the KRA Cup Classic (2000M KOR-G2).

Purchased by the Seoul Racehorse Owners’ Association for $30,000 at the 2019 Ocala Spring Sale of Two-Year-Olds, Haengbok Wangja is a half-brother to US-based Group 3 placed Bourbon Cowboy (by Cowboy Cal). He is owned by Lee Bang-hoon, who has been an owner since 2006 and has had 38 winners in that time. Haengbok Wangja’s Grand Prix was his first Group winner.

Haengbok Wangja is trained by Park Youn-gu. Training since 2004 he has sent out 337 winners from 4,280 starters. He won his first Group race with Joy Lucky in the 2013 G3 Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup with the same filly following up in the G3 SROA Chairman’s Trophy a year later. He won the G3 Jeju Governor’s Cup with Lead Money in 2018 before Haengbok Wangja became his first G1 winner.

KING OF THE MATCH (USA) [Cairo Prince – Fought The Fight (War Front)] is a five-year-old who has win five of fifteen races at distances up to 1800M. Although he is yet to win over 2000M, he did run 2nd to Raon The Fighter in the KRA Cup Classic (2000M KOR-G2) in October and also managed 4th in the Korea Cup, both times finishing ahead of Haengbok Wangja.

Owners D R M City have 24 winners from 97 starters. Their first group winner arrived last month when juvenile Speed Young won the Breeders’ Cup (1400M KOR-G2) at Busan.

King Of The Match’s trainer Kim Young-kwan is no stranger to the Dubai Carnival, having brought several to Meydan in the past, including Main Stay, a winner in 2017. Licensed since 2004 Kim has more winners than any other trainer in Korean history with 1406 from 6331 starters. He is a twelve-time Champion Trainer at Busan and hassaddled more Group winners than any other trainer in Korea.

Both Haengbok Wangja and King Of The Match will need to be forgiven their respective latest outings in the Grand Prix Stakes on December 11th when both were well down the field. For King Of The Match the distance was perhaps too far while Haengbok Wangja was out of sorts. Reports on the ground suggest that both have acclimatized to Meydan well. Dane O’Neill will ride Haengbok Wangja while Tadgh O’Shea, the ten-time UAE Champion jockey, is aboard King Of The Match.

The race is race 6 on the 7-race Friday night Carnival program at Meydan with a post time in Korea of 1:55am Saturday morning.

Busan Friday: Race-By-Race Preview (January 13)

The weekend’s racing gets underway at Busan on Friday with 10-races from 11:00 to 18:00. Here are the previews:

Busan Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

Three-year-old maidens with six of the twelve racing for the very first time. After a promising trial, (7) STAR FURY debuted over this distance on December 11th and having settled midfield, worked home well for 2nd place. He was well beaten by a good winner but should have derived benefit from the experience and he looks the one to beat here. (5) MORNING FLOW made his first appearance over 1000M on December 9th and was on pace throughout ultimately coming home in 3rd. He should have come on for that and with some natural improvement can be in the mix here. Among the first timers, (10) ROCK POWER is the standout. He won a December trial in a good time when running on pace and he can put in a bold showing first up here. (4) U PING and (6) HAERANG JANGGUN among others in the frame.

Selections(7) Star Fury (5) Morning Flow (10) Rock Power (4) U Ping
Next Best6, 2
Fast Start3, 4, 5, 10

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

After an inauspicious debut in November, (4) BLACK VOLT returned on December 9th and put in a much better run for 2nd over 1000M when midfield and then handy. The additional trip shouldn’t be an issue and he can go one better today. (2) DAHAMKKEDALLIJA debuted in that December 9th race and after a shaky start veritably flew home for 3rd behind Black Volt. He should be better for that run, the extra 300M should suit and plenty will back him to overturn the form on Black Volt. (10) JEOLDAE BOSS has a 3rd and a 4th from his latest two, the latter in a good time over 1200M. He is done no favours by the draw but can be a danger here. (5) UNMATCHED has run 5th in both starts so far, settling back and running on and should be aiming to better that here. Solitary debut-maker (9) THEIA has been through several trials, posting fair times, and this isn’t intimidating company to debut in.

Selections(4) Black Volt (2) Dahamkkedallija (10) Jeoldae Boss (5) Unmatched
Next Best9, 1
Fast Start8, 10, 11, 12

Busan Race 3: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

Tricky race. (4) GOODY will probably be favourite based on the 3rd and 2nd place finishes he has secured at 1200M. Last time out he drew wide and didn’t feature until late on but he comes into a better gate today and there isn’t much in the way of early speed so he may get an easier run. He has as much chance as any. (3) PLAY THE INDY was a much-improved 2nd last time when second-up following eight months out. He should be on pace here and may be peaking fitness wise. (7) TOP FRIEND has shown steady progress across the outings so far. He has gone well back on each occasion before running on and the slight step up in trip may be in his favour. (5) JEONGMUN CHITA and (6) SPECIAL JOHN among others in at least the placing hunt.

Selections(4) Goody (3) Play The Indy (7) Top Friend (5) Jeongmun Chita
Next Best6, 2
Fast Start1, 2, 3, 4

Busan Race 4: Class 6 (1600M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

(2) ARTHUR KING IJI was a beaten favourite over 1400M on December 16th when on pace and leading for much of the way. He comes up further in trip today and from a good draw should be on pace or handy and he is very much worth another chance. (10) DALLILLAEYO has improved across three starts so far and has finished off his races very well. He looks like he needs a but of distance and the step up to the mile can suit. That could be the case too for (11) YEOSU TORNADO. He is yet to finish better than 4th in eleven appearances but he has shown signs recently of figuring things out and can be challenging  late here. (8) HAMAN BAEKISAN enters off a runner-up finish over this distance on December 9th and with the same apprentice jockey keeping the weight down, can go close again. (1) INDIE BULPAE is the wildcard, returning to action more than six months after his sole race start.

Selections(2) Arthur King Iji (10) Dallillaeyo (11) Yeosu Tornado (8) Haman Baekisan
Next Best1, 12
Fast Start2, 4, 10, 12

Busan Race 5: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million

(8) YEONGGWANGUI ACE ran out a gate to wire winner over this distance at what for him was start number two on December 4th. He comes up in class today but the Hansen colt looks to have plenty of scope for more improvement and he will be the one to beat. (1) NICE DAY almost went all the way over 1300M at this class on December 11th, ultimately being passed in the closing stages for a narrow loss. He’s back in trip today to the distance at which he picked up his only win so far and from a good draw he should be on pace and can be in this a long way. (3) TAP STAR races for the first time since last July but he looked well when making all in a trial on Christmas Eve and if he can bring that form to the races, he can be competitive in this company. (7) HANGANG SAVER and the up in class (10) HANEUL SEUNGNI are among plenty of others who can enter the calculations.

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Sunday Seoul & Busan: Race-By-Race Preview (January 8)

Sunday sees cards at both Seoul (11 races from 10:40 to 18:00) and at Busan (6 races from 11:05 to 15:40).Here are the previews:

Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

Three-year-old maidens in the opener with five of the twelve racing for the first time. Having won a trail, (1) CHOEGANG HYEONMA was sent off as favourite over this distance on debut back in October but having drawn the widest gate, he never really found a run and ultimately finished in 5th. Nevertheless, there was nothing particularly wrong with the run and from a much better draw, he won’t need to improve much to win this. The others with experience haven’t offered much so it’s to the first timers that we look for danger. (2) FEDERAL PRESS ran on strongly for cross the line 2nd in his heat having emerged from gate eleven. The he finished off suggests 1200M can suit first up and he draws well. (10) FIRST USER clocked the fastest time of the debut-makers and that brings him into contention. (12) GLOBAL JINGYEOK actually won his heat, albeit in a slow time and he too warrants consideration. Returning to experience, (8) THE ROCK SUNSHINE looks the most likely to improve.

Selections(1) Choegang Hyeonma (2) Federal Press (10) First User (12) Global Jingyeok
Next Best8, 7
Fast Start1, 4, 7, 10

Busan Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

Three-year-old maidens with four of the twelve racing for the first time. There are three standouts, and they all have experience. Without a huge amount of confidence, we’ll side with (4) JEONGMUN SPECTER. His one run to date was back in August when he led over 1000M, ultimately finishing 4th in a fair time. He was given an easy time in a December trial, and he draws well here. He can win first-up. (8) MIRACLE ONE looks to be the danger. He finished 4th on debut over 1000M on November 11th running on well. The additional furlong can suit, and he has every chance. (12) SUCCESS MOCCA dead-heated for 3rd on his debut at 1000M on November 4th when handy throughout. He draws wide but with a touch of luck at the start to find a position, he is in this. Of the first-time starters, (3) HANEUL BULPAE and (7) GOOD MAGIC look the most probable to make an immediate impact.

Selections(4) Jeongmun Specter (8) Miracle One (12) Success Mocca (3) Haneul Bulpae
Next Best7, 11
Fast Start3, 4, 5, 7

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

More maiden three-year-olds. (2) KKUMUI SUNGAN shapes as the one to beat based on a quick debut on November 6th over 1000M when settling midfield and running on. With some natural improvement here, has every chance. (4) GEUMSEONG SIDAE ran 4th behind Kkumui Sungan in November and then went even faster when finishing 2nd over the five furlongs at start number three on December 4th. He has handy throughout and it’s not impossible that he could overturn the form today. (1) NAOL SIDAE was perhaps not ready and suffered an injury when debuting last July. He was put away after that but reappeared in a trial at the start of December looking sharp and fast. He draws well on the inside and can be on the pace and in this a long way. (9) ARGO GONGJU and (7) WONDERFUL TIZZY among others in the hunt in a competitive race.

Selections(2) Kkumui Sungan (4) Geumseong Sidae (1) Naol Sidae (9) Argo Gongju
Next Best7, 12
Fast Start1, 2, 4, 9

Busan Race 2: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

Maiden fillies and mares. (4) MYEONGSEONG CHARGE will be the favourite, and a short one at that. This will be her eighth start and she has managed six top-five finishes. She comes in off a 3rd place over this distance on November 25th having led for most of the way and finished in a fast time. She should have too much. (7) STORM AGAIN also has six top-fives in her record, in her case from eight prior starts. She comes up in trip having run on strongly for 3rd last time out and while she comes up in weight too, she can offer a stern test. (6) GOLDEN RACER and (10) TWOTWO FLYING came home 2nd and 3rd respectively when they raced each over at 1200M on December 9th. Both should be in at least the placing fame today. (12) DUBAI PYEONGJEONG another in the hunt.

Selections(4) Myeongseong Charge (7) Storm Again (6) Golden Racer (10) Twotwo Flying
Next Best12, 5
Fast Start5, 8, 9, 10

Seoul Race 3: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

Fillies and mares only for this maiden. (1) GOLDEN LUCKY has steadily improved across four starts so far, culminating in a 2nd place over 1200M on December 4th when she was handy throughout. She stays at almost the same weight, draws inside and the additional half furlong can see her home on top. (12) CUPID CHAMP is the main danger. She has finished 2nd and 5th in two outings to date, both at 1000M and both in fast times. She comes up in trip by a furlong and a half but that shouldn’t be a problem with the only downside being the wide draw. If she can find a good position, she can win. There is a solitary debut-maker. (4) HANGAWI SEONMUL went through two trials in December improving in the second of them. This is a great race to start off in and from a good draw and some natural improvement out of the trials, a bold showing could be in store. (9) BLUE KAISER and (2) WIDAEHAN HANMA are others in the placing frame.

Selections(1) Golden Lucky (12) Cupid Champ (4) Hangawi Seonmul (9) Blue Kaiser
Next Best2, 7
Fast Start2, 7, 11, 12

Busan Race 3: Class 5 (1800M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

Tricky race. (6) PISTOL STAR got a long way back after a troubled start in the Breeders’ Cup champion juvenile race on December 4th and although he made good late ground, he ran out of track and finished in 8th place. He has raced over 1800M so he won’t be surprised by anything here and it wasn’t a hugely strong field, he may win. (9) ADELE ALLIE’S also remains a maiden but there are grounds to be optimistic on his first try around two turns. He comes in having run 2nd and 3rd in his latest two over 1300M, finishing off well and it may just suit. (4) NEW CROWN got his solitary win at class and distance three starts back in October, beating a couple of today’s rivals. The time was slow, but he has gone faster and warrants respect here. (10) MONEY CASE and (5) O.K. THUNDER among others in the hunt.

Selections(6) Pistol Star (9) Adele Allie’s (4) New Crown (10) Money Case
Next Best5, 2
Fast Start2, 7, 6, 10

Seoul Race 4: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

(3) BAEKDU BOY is clear favourite to breakthrough here. He had been posting good times at 1000M and then stepped up to this distance on November 19th and ran 2nd, well beaten by a good winner but stopping the clock faster than any of the others here who have tackled 1200M. He draws well to be on pace or handy and may take some beating. (4) GOOD SIMON hinted at some ability at start number three, when running on for 4th. She comes up in trip for the first time and the way she has finished off her races suggests it is about time. (1) EXPECT ran fairly from a wide gate over this distance on debut in November. The draw is better here and with some natural improvement for that experience, he can be expected to get closer. (5) FOUR ACE and (11) WHITE WITCH others in the minor money frame.

Selections(3) Baekdu Boy (4) Good Simon (1) Expect (5) Four Ace
Next Best11, 7
Fast Start3, 5, 6, 12

Busan Race 4: Class 4 (1800M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

(9) LANE KILLER returned from eight months out on December 18th and ran a creditable 6th of eleven at class and distance. He has won over 1800M before and should strip fitter for that performance. He can return to winning ways here. (10) WONDERFUL WORLD comes in following a smart win at this class distance on December 11th when settling back and running on, leaving a couple of today’s rivals back down the track. He joins Lane Killer at tope weights and could prove the main danger. (12) WIND WINNER came up in class after a 3rd and a 2nd at 1800M in September and October. He showed he can fit in at this level with 4th over a mile at his latest outing and despite the wide draw, he can go close here. (7) LIGHT STORY and (5) GREAT DANCE among others who can be competitive.

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Seoul Saturday: Race-By-Race Preview (January 7)

The capital kicks off its 2023 season on Saturday with a bumper 12-race card. Note the 1st race is five minutes earlier than usual so the races are from 10:40 to 18:00. Here are the previews:

Jo In-kwon, who won the Minister’s Cup on Captain Yankee, returns full time to Seoul this weekend (Pic: KRA)

Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

Three-year-old maidens in the opener and quite a few have already shown some promise. (6) ARGO RICH will be favourite, having run 4th on debut over 1000M in October before improving the 2nd when stepped up to 1200M on November 19th when on pace throughout. The additional half furlong can suit, and he can win here. (1) SAENAE KHAN beat Argo Rich when they pair debuted in the same October race before running 4th over the same distance at start number two. He comes up in distance for the first time but draws well and can be a danger here. In turn, (2) HANGANG POWER beat Saenae Khan when they raced one another on December 4th. That was a big improvement on his first two efforts, and he can continue that momentum today. (10) NONSTOP THUNDER and (9) UPTOWN WHIZ are others to take into account.

Selections(6) Argo Rich (1) Saenae Khan (2) Hangang Power (10) Nonstop Thunder
Next Best9, 12
Fast Start1, 3, 7, 9

Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

Maiden three-year-old fillies with half the field having run once and half the field non having run at all. (6) ÉCLAIR STAR drew the widest gate on debut and then slightly fly-jumped as the gates opened and then went wider. The jockey calmly took her across to the fence where she proceeded to run on well for 3rd. She draws better today and could well win. Favourite status will probably belong to (3) CANDY GLOW. She ran 7th of twelve on debut in a fair time over the 1000M, beaten by Hangang Power and Saenae Khan from race 1. She should have come on for the run and Moon Se-young remaining aboard will be enough for plenty. Of the newcomers, (9) DANDI looks the best. She went through a fast trial, crossing the line 4th behind a couple of very established racehorses. If she can bring that form to the track, she may have a chance of emulating her namesake at Busan from the early 2000s. (1) LADY TAEPUNG came through the same trial in good fashion and along with (5) WALGADAK, is another to consider.

Selections(6) Éclair Star (3) Candy Glow (9) Dandi (1) Lady Taepung
Next Best5, 10
Fast Start2, 3, 4, 9

Seoul Race 3: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

Three races into 2023 and Moon Se-young will probably have been on the favourite in all of them. Here it’s (2) ARGO TAP, who has shown good consistency over his five starts to date. He hasn’t been especially quick, but he draws nicely to get on pace and dictate, and they may not get past him. (10) SSING SSING SSING was a big improver at start number three over this distance on November 27th when settling handy and running on well stopping the clock in a time faster than any of today’s rivals have manages. He doesn’t draw as favourably today but shapes as the main danger to the favourite. (4) GANGHAN QUEEN has been up and down across three starts so far but looks sure to be on the pace here and in this a long way, while (9) GOLD MIGHTY comes up in trip following a solid second effort over 1000M. (5) DREAM SKY had a hard time in the Munhwa Ilbo Trophy before running out on the turn on her reappearance. She had shown ability to that prior and has recently trialled well enough. If she takes the corner properly, she may have a chance at a decent price.

Selections(2) Argo Tap (10) Ssing Ssing Ssing (4) Ganghan Queen (9) Gold Mighty
Next Best5, 7
Fast Start1, 2, 4, 5

Seoul Race 4: Class 6 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

Plenty of these raced against each other over this distance on November 26th and it was (4) DAECHEON CHAMP who came out the best, settling midfield and coming home in 2nd place. That was by far her best showing to date and on her third try at the trip, she can get her maiden win. One at odds could be (12) WONPYEONG BIRD. He comes in off his best finish to date, a 3rd over 1200M on December 3rd and while he takes a big step up in trip, it may well suit. (11) BAEDARI GONGJU too comes up in trip. She has settled back and finished strongly over the shorter courses so is another who may enjoy the chance to stretch out a bit. (6) NEOREUL EONGWONHAE and (10) ZEROBAEK FIVE, both behind Daecheon Champ in that November 26th race, are others in the frame.

Selections(4) Daecheon Champ (12) Wonpyeong Bird (11) Baedari Gongju (6) Neoreul Eongwonhae
Next Best10, 2
Fast Start4, 5, 7, 9

Seoul Race 5: Class 4 (1600M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

(5) QUCKLY RUN is yet to finish any worse than 3rd in six starts to date and has posted some fast times along the way. On her first attempt at a mile last time out on November 26th, she drew the widest gate but ran on well for 3rd and from a better draw today can win. She’ll be vying for favourite status with (2) YAMUJIN JAESU. He is yet to win but has some solid efforts at this level including a last start 3rd over this distance on December 4th. He comes up in the weights but gets Moon Se-young aboard which will tempt plenty. (6) MAIN OF KING was the 40/1 winner of that race on November 26th ahead of Quickly Run. That was his maiden score at start twenty-one, but it was also his first ever run at this distance and a repeat can’t be completely ruled out. (3) BLUE CHARM is a class and distance winner and can be given another chance despite being well back in his latest two at further. (7) SONGAM TIZ another in the placing frame.

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Busan Friday: Race-By-Race Preview (January 6)

After a week off, racing returns to the peninsula on Friday as the 2023 season gets underway at Busan. As there are just two weeks until another weekend off, there are lots of races and every one of them has a big field. Friday sees 10 races at Busan from 11:00 to 18:00. Here are the previews:

Busan Race 1: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

The 2023 Korean racing season kicks off with a series of maidens with the opener for three-year-olds. Following a fast trial, (10) ROCK AND ROLL was sent off as favourite on debut over 1200M on November 20th. He was on pace throughout and while he could only manage 3rd, the time was good and with some natural improvement for the run, he could be hard to beat here. (5) POWER RIDE was slowly away on debut over 1200M on November 27th and loped along at the back resenting the kickback at one stage tailing the field by a full six-lengths. Once he found his rhythm, he did work home well though and with a better start and additional half furlong to play with, big improvement here is possible at a probable each-way price. (7) STORMY DAY ran a good 4th on debut and while he couldn’t follow-up on his second appearance, that alone is enough to put him in the place frame here. (6) CHOICE ROAD and (9) NINE FORCE ONE others to take into consideration.

Selections(10) Rock And Roll (5) Power Ride (7) Stormy Day (6) Choice Road
Next Best9, 4
Fast Start1, 6, 9, 10  

Busan Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

Three-year-old maiden fillies here and (8) GOHEUNG CLASS will be a warm favourite, having improved significantly at start number two over 1000M on December 9th when she almost made all, ultimately running a close 2nd. The step up in trip shouldn’t be a problem and she is the one to beat. There are three first-time starters and two of them looks to have very solid claims first-up. (11) GOLDEN WAVE doesn’t draw the best showed decent speed in her trial and with a touch of luck at the start to find a handy position, can go close. (1) DOCTOR TIFFANY put in a similar run in her trial and with no concerns about the draw from the inside gate, she too can put in a bold showing on debut. (2) U PING rana creditable 2nd place over 1000M on debut on December 2nd, beating plenty of today’s rivals when overcoming a wide draw to get on pace. She gets much luckier with the barrier this time and should have come on for the run. (9) DAEHO NARA, 3rd in that December race, another in the frame.

Selections(8) Goheung Class (11) Golden Wave (1) Doctor Tiffany (2) U Ping
Next Best9, 6
Fast Start1, 2, 4, 10

Busan Race 3: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

Two standouts here, one a first timer and one with two starts in the bank already. Without much conviction, we’ll side with experience in the shape of (1) ROAD TO DREAM. After running 2nd on debut, he ran a good 3rd second-up behind a winner who has gone on to win again at class 5 and a runner-up who has since got his own maiden victory. That form should stand up here, the additional furlong can suit, and he could win. The debut maker who shapes as the main danger and possible favourite is (6) WISE KING. He went through two trials running on pace in both and stopping the clock in a fast time in the second of them. He won’t need to improve much to go very close here. It’s hard to look past the pair of them for the quinella and indeed past (2) FAST FURY to complete the trio. He draws well to be on pace here and going on his 2nd two starts back in a fast time at this trip, he should have the beating of most here. (12) SOUTHERN JOY and the very experienced (not necessarily a good thing at this level) (4) WONDERFUL SMARTY are the other logical money hopes.

Selections(1) Road To Dream (6) Wise King (2) Fast Fury (12) Southern Joy
Next Best4, 9
Fast Start1, 2, 6, 0

Busan Race 4: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

It’s about time that (11) HWANGU FIGHTER broke through. He has raced five times finishing between 2nd and 4th on each occasion. His latest was his best when on November 25th he ran out a very close 2nd over 1200M having settled to the front of midfield and then run on. Any kind of top three finish will see him in class 5 next time and the step up to 1400M may be just what he needs to do it with a win. The main danger is probably (2) B. K. HUNTER.  He enters off a solid 3rd place over 1300M in November when settling right at the back of the field and then running on well. The 1400M can suit and he should be close. (4) WISE BOY has mixed his form to date, but he comes into a good gate today, has Franco climbing aboard, and he is another who can appreciate the slight step it up to 1400M. (1) QUEEN ROMANCE and (10) ECTON POWER are among others who can enter the calculations.

Selections(11) Hwangu Fighter (2) B.K. Hunter (4) Wise Boy (1) Queen Romance
Next Best10, 3
Fast Start1, 4, 9, 11

Busan Race 5: Class 5 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

Having finished up his juvenile season with 3rd place in the Listed Gimhae Mayor’s Trophy before running a creditable 6th of fourteen in the G2 Breeders’ Cup, it will be hard to go past (6) WORLD LEGEND here. His maiden win over 1200M was a dominant one and he has already proven he can compete at today’s distance. He’ll be going higher than this level. (1) BRAVO HAMYANG is yet to win but has five top-four finishes from seven starts. He was drawn wide over a mile in his latest outing and didn’t feature but back in trip, down in weight and into a better gate, he can be competitive here. (7) BUDDY BUDDY ran 5th behind World Legend in the Gimhae Mayor’s Trophy. This is his first start since and just his fourth in total, and he can be in the mix today. (4) ADELE STELLA and the ultra-consistent but still yet to win (3) TITAN K are others to be considered.

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WINNER’S MAN SEES MUSKET MAN TO LEADING SIRE CROWN

Musket Man was Leading General Sire in Korea in 2022. Korea Cup and Grand Prix Stakes winner Winner’s Man saw his sire to the title accounting for almost 30% of his earnings of 6.5 Billion Korean Won.

Musket Man finished 700 Million Won ahead of nearest rival Cowboy Cal despite having just 304 race starters compared with Cowboy Cal’s 1,003. The late Menifee was 3rd with Hansen and Old Fashioned rounding out the top five.

Standing privately for owner Son Chun-soo, who heads up the Raon breeding and racing juggernaut, Musket Man arrived in Korea in 2016 and spent his early years covering mostly Raon’s own mares. Aside from the exceptional Winner’s Man, he has also produced the Group race winning fillies Raon Pink and Raon The Spurt, along with Seoul’s 2022 champion juvenile filly, Raon Giant.

In his first four seasons in the country, Musket Man covered no more than 64 mares in a single year. However, this jumped to 74 in 2020 and then 108 and 99 in 2021 and 2022 so he is likely to be in and around the top of the list for years to come.

The final crop of Menifee, who died in 2019, scored well enough to see their late sire to the Leading Sire of Two-Year-Olds, the bulk earned by Champion Juvenile Speed Young.

Emerging sires include To Honor And Serve and Girolamo, both of whom had their second local crops running with To Honor And Serve cracking the top-ten. The highest placed non-Korea based sire on the General list was Algorithms in 23rd place, almost all earned by Korea Sprint winner Eoma Eoma.

December saw the passing of Isidore Farm’s Ecton Park, who dueled with Menifee for years at the top of the Leading General Sire table, beating him in 2018. That was a standout achievement as Ecton Park was standing privately for a commercial fee whereas Menifee was owned and stood by the Korea Racing Authority.

See here for the full lists.

International Jockeys & Trainers Close Out 2022 With Milestones Aplenty

The overseas contingent in Korean racing had plenty to celebrate as 2022 reached its conclusion with records being smashed over the last couple of months of the year. Johan Victoire has passed the two-hundred winner mark at Seoul while down at Busan jockey Franco Da Silva and trainer Bart Rice, both breached three-hundred winners. Back in the capital, trainer Luigi Riccardi notched his century in the penultimate week of the season.

Franco Da Silva’s milestone came first, and it was for Rice, on the trainer’s Alec King Iji on October 28th. Da Silva debuted in 2016 and just like Rice, was successful in his first ever race in the country, ultimately riding a treble on his first day. Jockey Da Silva’s figures are remarkably similar to those of trainer Rice. He has a win rate of over 13%, a quinella rate of 27% and show rate of 38%.

Da Silva won the Korean Derby in 2018 on Ecton Blade for trainer Kim Young-kwan for whom he also picked up the G3 Busan Owners’ Cup on the Triple Crown winner Power Blade in 2017. On the day he cracked 300, Da Silva added another in the final race on the card and then one more on the following Sunday before heading off for an extended overseas break with family, his 60 winners across the year putting him behind only You Hyun-myung, Seo Seung-un and Park Jae-i at the top of the Busan table.

Bart Rice’s landmark win arrived on November 11th with three-year-old gelding Fusaichi, ridden by Chae Sang-hyun in the colours of owner and breeder Isidore Farm.

“I feel good, you know. Three-hundred wins, it’s ok, I’m happy.” Rice told KRBC Busan’s social media on the day. Fusaichi, who is by Purge and out of Isidore’s mare Fusaichiswonderful (by Fusaichi Pegasus) was breaking his maiden on his fourth start.

“Well done to the owner as well as he has always supported me. But the stable has done well, the staff has done well. It’s been a long road, but all good.”

Having previously trained in South Africa, Bart Rice arrived in Korea in late 2013 as the third overseas trainer to be licensed after Peter Wolsley and Joe Murphy. He sent out his first runners in January 2014 and got a winner with his first starter, an 8/1 chance called Gyeongnam Sinhwa.

Rice’s one-hundredth winner arrived in May 2017 and his two-hundredth in July 2020, the latter, Mr. Fusion, also in the Isidore colours.  He has now sent out over 2200 runners for a win rate in excess of 13%, a quinella rate of 24% and show figures of almost 35%. Fusaichi was his 38th of 43 winners in 2022 leaving him in 6th place in the Busan Trainer Premiership.

Franco Da Silva is currently the only foreign jockey licensed at Busan following the departures during the year of Djordje Perovic and Ioannis Poullis, although new additions are expected in the first part of 2023. Before leaving, Perovic broke Ikuyasu Kurakane’s record of most winners in Korea by a foreign jockey.

In the trainer ranks, Peter Wolsley, who debuted in 2007, is still going strong on and closing in his 650th winner – only Kim Young-kwan has ever trained more at the track. Thomas Gillespie, a 2015 addition, is also going well, with 280 total wins in Korea.

At Seoul, Johan Victoire crashed through the 200-winner barrier in November, when partnering Choego Race to a two-and-a-half length victory at class 3 level. Victoire is another member of the “winner in first race in Korea” club having triumphed on his first mount at Seoul in 2017. He reached 100 in 2019 and ended 2022 with 33 winners for the year.

Among those winners were Jangsan Bada in the Listed Ilgan Sports Trophy, and even more significantly, a second SBS Sports Sprint (G3) in June. Just as he did in 2020, Victoire partnered Morfhis to victory in what is the main lead-up race for the Korea Sprint. Victoire has ridden Morfhis in ten of his eleven career wins since first being paired with him in all the way back in 2018.

Antonio Da Silva finished in 6th place in the Seoul Jockey Premiership with 44 winners. David Breux notched 34 and Alan Munro 27.

Victoire’s Ilgan Sports win on Jangsan Bada was the first feature race win in Korea for trainer Tony Castanheira, one of 18 winners he sent out over 2022. Numbers-wise it was a breakout season for Luigi Riccardi, whose 42 winners saw him tie with Seo In-seok for 2nd place in the Trainer Premiership, two behind the Raon-backed Champion Park Jong-kon. Seo had more runner-up finishes but also sent out nearly double the number of starters with 443 to Riccardi’s 227, the Italian’s 18.5% win-rate the highest among trainers at either Seoul or Busan.

The new Korean racing season gets underway at Busan on Friday January 6.