The Stayer Series gets underway at Seoul Racecourse this Sunday when Winner’s Man will head the field for the Herald Business Cup (2000M KOR-G3). With Raon The Fighter (successfully) and Raon First (unsuccessfully) having been pointed to different Group races over the past two weeks, the 2022 Korea Cup and Grand Prix Stakes winner’s task to win the race for the second year in a row is not as taxing as it might have been.
Winner’s Man didn’t make an auspicious start to 2023. Assigned 60kg under handicap conditions over 1800M on February 26th, he briefly struck the front in the home straight, but didn’t run on, ultimately finishing 4th behind winner Flat Babe, and also Tuhonui Banseok. It should be different this time and Choi Ki-hong’s stable star will be a short-priced favourite to win.
Tuhonui Banseok returns. After 3rd place in the KRA Cup Classic he repeated that feat in the Grand Prix Stakes and was gaining on Winner’s Man and Raon The Fighter with every stride. He has since followed up with two more 3rd-place finishes at class 1 level, including that one ahead of Winner’s Man and shapes as the greatest danger here.
The rematch between Winner’s Man and Raon The Fighter isn’t happening – the latter won the Busan Ilbo Sprint on April 2nd – and nor the President’s Cup rematch between Winner’s Man and Raon First – she was beaten in the Donga Ilbo Trophy last Sunday. But owner Son Chun-soo and trainer Park Jong-kon are represented by four-year-old filly Raon The Spurt. She won the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup against older fillies and mares over this distance last November and looks ready to take on the elite males here.
The Herald Business Cup is race 8 on an eleven-race program at Seoul on Sunday with a local post time of 16:35. There are eleven runners in total:
1. WARRIOR CLASS – Scored back-to-back wins over 1800M in January and February and while it was against class 3 and 2 opposition, he posted class 1 times. 3rd over this distance at class 2 on his latest on March 5th. Tough ask at level weights in this company.
2. CAPTAIN YANKEE – Winner of the KRA Cup Mile and Minister’s Cup and 3rd in the Korean Derby as a three-year-old last year, he has only raced twice since and not at all since an also-ran in the President’s Cup. Trialed up well in March and has a big race jockey on board but this is a very difficult assignment first-up.
3. MOONHAK CHIEF – Missed the start at his latest on March 18th and has since been back to trial. Not the same horse he was in 2019 when winning the Korea Cup and Grand Prix but he did run 2nd at class 1 over this distance behind Chief Indy as recently as Christmas Day when conceding 6kg. Not a winning chance but a minor money one
4. TUHONUI BANSEOK – Super 3rd in both the KRA Cup Classic and the Grand Prix and followed up with two more 3rds so far this year back at Busan. Can settle handy or drop back and run on, he seems to like racing at Seoul, and he can be a danger.
5. RAON THE SPURT – The only filly or mare in the race gets a 2.5kg allowance. After near misses in the Triple Tiara, she got her Group win in the final leg of the Queens’ Tour over this distance at Busan last November. She enters here off a class 1 win over 1400M on March 5th and while this is a different challenge, she can be a factor. She draws well and is a potential pacesetter.
6. CHIEF INDY – 6th in the President’s Cup then a class 1 winner on Christmas Day over this distance. Comes in off back-to-back 2nd places also at 2000M. Settles midfield and runs on and is among the favourites here.
7. BARBARIAN – Well back in the Grand Prix but bounced back with a class 1 win over a mile in January. Has also won at this distance in a fast time. He can race handy or come from behind, and he is a major player here.
8. WINNER’S MAN – The Korea Cup and Grand Prix Stakes winner last season, he was flat on his reappearance over 1800M on February 26th when giving away weight over 1800M. That race obviously wasn’t the target, this one is, so expect him to be fitter today and he is the one to beat. Can settle midfield or can go forward.
9. THE GUMPU – Solid class 1 campaigner, he was 4th behind Chief Indy last time out. Perhaps not quite at the elite level it takes to win a race like this but at his best can be aiming for a money finish. Goes best on pace or handy.
10. BLACK MUSK – Versatile horse who was an excellent winner over this distance at class 1 level in January, leading every step of the way before dropping back to 1400M and running 4th in early March. The draw is a touch wide but if he can find a forward position, he can’t be ruled out.
11. SHAMROCKER – The ten-year-old still picks up the occasional cheque and rarely runs a bad race but he has lost a yard of pace, and this looks too hard.
Selections: (8) Winner’s Man (4) Tuhonui Banseok (5) Raon The Spurt (7) Barbarian