Winner’s Man won the opening leg of the Stayer Series a year ago on his way to a clean sweep, and at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon, he demonstrated he has lost none of his superiority at the longer distances with a comfortable defence of the Herald Business Cup (2000M KOR-G3).
The 2022 Korea Sprint and Grand Prix Stakes winner had been known to throw in the odd lackluster performance, such as when 3rd in last November’s G1 President’s Cup and especially when 4th in his tune up for this, a handicap over 1800M at Busan in February. Winner’s Man though returned to action this time leaner, having come down 15kg in body weight since that setback, and was sent off the 1.5 favourite in the local win pool.
Raon The Spurt, the only filly, set the pace as Winner’s Man slotted into 4th place among ten in the early exchanges with Black Musk and Tuhonui Banseok, the Grand Prix Stakes 3rd, between them. As the field made their way down the back straight, just after halfway, Seo Seung-un took Winner’s Man up closer to join Raon The Spurt and the rest was inevitable.
Winner’s Man struck the front shortly after they turned into the home straight and while Tuhonui Banseok briefly closed the gap up the inside rail, when Seo asked for an effort, Winner’s Man responded and opened up clear daylight again, ultimately crossing the line three-lengths to the good over the Bart Rice-trained Tuhonui Banseok. Barbarian made it a one-two-three for Busan-trained gallopers with Raon The Spurt a brave 4th the best of the Seoul home team.
Winner’s Man [Musket Man – Winner’s Marine (by Volponi)] moved on to fifteen wins from twenty-two starts. For jockey Seo Seung-un, it was a thirteenth Group winner, and his fifth on Winner’s Man. For trainer Choi Ki-hong, who only has eighteen horses in training, it was a fifth Group win (a year ago, the Herald Business only had Listed status).
The next leg in the Stayer Series is the YTN Cup (2000M KOR-G3) back at Seoul on May 21st before the series moves to Busan for the Busan Mayor’s Cup (1800M KOR-G2) on July 2nd. Winner’s Man won both those races in 2022 and barring setbacks, few will be betting against him repeating the feat this time around.
In other news, spare a thought for Lee Dong-ha. A week ago, the jockey got the biggest winner of his career to date when partnering Eodigana to success in the Donga Ilbo Trophy. He followed up with a winner this Saturday and another in race 1 on Sunday. Racing has a habit of bringing you crashing back down again – often literally. Lee suffered a heavy fall in race 5 on Sunday and was transported to hospital with a suspected broken collarbone.
Next week the three-year-old classics get underway with the Luna Stakes, the first leg of the Triple Tiara for fillies being run over a mile at Busan on Sunday.