Author: gyongmaman

Moon Se Young Makes 1500 / New Legend Goes Five for Five

At 11am on Saturday morning, after Moon Se Young had nonchalantly guided favourite Black Party to a comfortable victory in the opening race of the weekend at Seoul Racecourse to rack up his 1499th career winner, it looked as though Moon’s quest to reach the milestone 1500th would be a breeze. By 6pm on Sunday, it had turned into something of a saga before finally, Another Smart One obliged in the concluding race of the weekend and Moon became only the second Korean jockey to ever reach the landmark figure.

Moon Se Young 1500 Presentation

Mr & Mrs Moon

The wait was somewhat reminiscent of that of Park Tae Jong, the nation’s all-time leading jockey, who was on 1,999 winners for three meetings before finally breaking the 2,000- win barrier in May 2016. “Sorry you guys had to wait here after every race!” smiled Moon to the waiting camera crew. Indeed, on Saturday Moon found himself beaten on three hot favourites on what ultimately proved a day of frustration for the six-time Champion Jockey.

“I was a little worried today” admitted Moon afterwards, “I didn’t expect too much from my rides, but I knew this one was going to be favourite and I was concerned about letting down the racing fans”. He needn’t have been. Another Smart One, a five-year-old US import by Smarty Jones looked a winner all the way, stalking the early leaders in the 1200M Class 1 finale before taking things up mid-stretch to win by a full six-lengths on the line.

“I always want to do my best for the owners and trainers who support me and all through my career, I’ve set myself targets and goals and achieving them has been what motivates me”. However, now 38-years-old Moon, who missed the latter half of last year after shattering his collarbone, knows not to take anything for granted anymore. “I have had so many injuries and layoffs over the past few years that I wasn’t sure I would make this one”.

Park Tae Jong, who rode one of the winners that denied Moon on Saturday, was among the first to greet his rival in the winner’s circle after the race. “I’ve been chasing him my entire career” said Moon after bowing deeply to the man who his is fifteen years his senior. “I’ll keep on chasing him”.

* At Busan on Sunday, New Legend, the current hottest prospect in Korean racing, continued to burnish his credentials. Stepping up to 2000M for the first time, the four-year-old Menifee colt, who began his career in the United States, outclassed is class 2 rivals, setting a gentle pace before pulling away with ease in the home straight to win by a full thirteen-lengths. He moves on to five from five at home and will be up to class 1 for his next appearance.


Sunday Seoul & Busan: Race-By-Race Preview (March 24)

There are full Sunday cards at both Seoul (11 races from 10:45 to 18:00) and Busan (6 races from 12:40 to 17:05). There’s no Group or Listed action but the “Good Luck Dolkong Handicap” race 9 at Seoul looks set to be interesting while New Legend, unbeaten in Korea, makes his fifth start at Busan in race 5. Also there is the ongoing saga of Moon Se Young’s attempt to reach 1500 winners. After scoring in race 1 on Saturday to reach 1499, he was beaten on three odds-on chances. He has eight more chances on Sunday. Here are the previews with Busan selections below:

Jigeum I Sungan Moon Se Young 1

Surely Moon Se Young will make it to 1500 on Sunday

Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(11) P.K. JEONSA has been getting closer across four starts so far culminating in 2nd place at this distance last time out a month ago. He won’t need to improve much to win this and he is the one to beat. (5) GOLDEN JAY ran 3rd on debut last month and while it wasn’t an especially strong race, it gives her a firm foundation to build on here. (6) CHOWON MARU and (4) SEOUL CITY debuted together, finishing 4th and 7th respectively at this distance on February 23rd and they too can make progress here. The most experienced in the race is (9) DAEJI GONGJU and she has managed a 3rd place which she could repeat here.

Selections (11) P.K. Jeonsa (5) Golden Jay (6) Chowon Maru (4) Seoul City
Next Best 9, 1
Fast Start 5, 11

Race 2: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

Weak maiden here and (10) UTGE HAEJULGE’s improved last start 4th should be enough to give him favourite status here. He’s not drawn especially well but should have enough about him to get to the lead and he can win. (6) SINUI CHUKBOK comes in having run 5th at this distance two weeks ago and looks to have more improvement in her while (4) JEOKTO BIMA raced ungenerously last time but still managed to finish 6th and drops back in trip today.  In such a race we have to give the first-timers a chance and (7) BLUE BAY looks to have the best chance of making an impression first-up.

Selections (10) Utge Haejulge (6) Sinui Chukbok (4) Jeokto Bima (7) Blue Bay
Next Best 9, 8
Fast Start 2, 4, 5, 6

Race 3: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

(7) HOPE KINGDOM was a close at hand 2nd at this distance on February 23rd, beating three of these in the process. That performance came out of nowhere, but a repeat can’t be ruled out. (3) SIMJANGUI GODONG was 3rd in that race, four-lengths behind Hope Kingdom. That was just his second start having also run 3rd on debut. He only needs to finish in the top three to go up in class and he can exit the bottom tier of racing with a win here. (8) SPADE MASHIE was 4th on his first start in that very same race and should come on for it too. Further back still in that race was (2) JEONGSANG STAR, who previously showed some ability in 3rd place on her first outing and can go better today. Among those who didn’t go in that race, (1) TO THE VICTORY should be on pace early and can be competitive.

Selections (3) Simjangui Godong (8) Spade Mashie (7) Hope Kingdom (2) Jeongsang Star
Next Best 1, 12
Fast Start 1, 2, 10

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

A close at hand 2nd at class and distance on February 24th, (3) TRI THUNDER is the pick to go one better and win this nicely competitive handicap. He should be close to the early speed and could have too much late on. (5) YEOKDAE CHOEGO is up in class having won on his first try at this distance last month and should have more improvement in him here while (8) HORSE QUEEN was a close 4th on her first go in this class five weeks ago and steps up in trip for the first time today. She’ll join Tri Thunder in competing for the early lead and can go close.  (2) CHOWON GUNJU and the experienced (4) SSONSALGACHI, are others who are capable.

Selections (3) Tri Thunder (8) Horse Queen (5) Yeokdae Choego (4) Ssonsalgachi
Next Best 2, 6
Fast Start 2, 8, 10, 12

Race 5: Class 4 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million

(1) GYORYONG UNU is a frustrating horse, tending to be either very good or very bad. Last time though he was just ok, running 2nd over 1200M. He’s back at the minimum today, the inside gate should help him, and he surely wins. (3) JILPUNG GANGJA was slightly disappointing on his first try at this class last time but gets another chance here. He won his previous two in fine fashion and potential for more. (10) DAESEONG MALLI and (9) HWANG GEUM SAJA came home 5th and 6th respectively when they raced each other over 1300M on February 16th and both can get closer today. (11) WHIZ REINA is (more…)

Alan Munro Rides 1st Korean Winner

Well done to Alan Munro, who has ridden his first winner in Korea. It came on 24/1 chance Elan (Ecton Park) in race 8 of Saturday’s card at Seoul Racecourse:

While it was Munro’s 50th ride since beginning last month, he has scarcely had an opportunity to get on a fancied mount. Nevertheless, he has been consistently getting horses to exceed expectations and he followed up on Saturday with a 25/1 3rd place finish and an 18/1 runner-up.

Seoul Saturday: Race-By-Race Preview (March 23)

There are 12 races at Seoul on Saturday from 10:45 to 18:00.


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

(3) BLACK PARTY was sent off as an odd-on favourite at this distance on February 24th having finished 2nd in a similar race a month earlier. She took a bump at the start and ultimately ended up a slightly disappointing 4th. She looks like she has some talent though and she gets another chance today. (4) TAP LINE ran 2nd on debut on February 23, coming from off the pace and finishing nicely over 1000M. Up in trip today, he can be a big danger. (8) BLADE STORM has finished no worse than 3rd in three outing so far and can maintain that record here while (10) SUHO – who has started at precisely 58.5 on the Korean tote in both outings to date, improved last time despite displaying poor racing manners throughout and may play a role. Of the three debut-makers, (6) CHOEGANG MAGIC looks the best at this stage.

Selections (3) Black Party (4) Tap Line (6) Choegang Magic (8) Blade Storm
Next Best 10, 1
Fast Start 3, 8, 9, 10

Race 2: Class 5 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(11) HAE WANG got promoted to this class with a pair of 2nd places either side of the turn of the year. He didn’t go well at 1300M a month ago but must be given another chance back down at the minimum today. (1) MENI SMART is two starts into a comeback following a lengthy period away. She’s run 6th in both of those but drops back to 1000M and from the inside gate should be on pace early. She should get much closer. (10) NONSTOP FLYING is up in class having made all to win at this distance at the end of January. This is stiffer but she should be competitive. (3) CHEONROK unseated her rider a month ago but has some ability and looks nicely in here. (12) DAECHEON HERO another with placing chances.

Selections (11) Hae Wang (1) Meni Smart (10) Nonstop Flying (3) Cheonrok
Next Best 12, 6
Fast Start 1, 10, 11, 12

Race 3: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million

This is a strong filly-only race for the level and that means (10) LUCKY BONGSEONG, a winner on debut over 1000M three weeks ago and accordingly up in class and distance, will have to improve significantly if she is to compete. (1) GREEN SARANG scored at class and distance in a fast time on a very wet track on February 3rd. He carries an additional 4kg this time but is well drawn to get forward early and can repeat. To do that though, he’ll have to hold off that day’s runner-up (6) MAMMA ROMA. Luigi Riccardi’s filly subsequently came back out three weeks later to run 2nd again and this time she can go one better. (7) MUNG CHI and (2) SUPER YEOWANG, 3rd and 4th respectively in that latter race, are others in the hunt although a bigger danger may be (3) UDAERYUNG, 5th in a similar strength race to this over 1000M a month ago and who steps up in trip for the first time here seemingly with plenty of improvement left in her.

Selections (6) Mamma Roma (1) Green Sarang (10) Lucky Bongseong (3) Udaeryung
Next Best 7, 2
Fast Start 1, 2, 4, 10

Race 4: Class 6 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(8) MYEONGMA JILJU stepped up to this trip on February 23rd and recorded his best finish to date, running 2nd and beating plenty of these in the process. With that day’s winner safely out of the way, he’s favoured to go one better today. (6) CHEONSE MANSE was 3rd in that race, despite his jockey dropping his whip with two furlongs to go and should be a big danger. (2) BINNANEUN RUBY and (3) RAON JEWANG both enter with recent form reading well and shouldn’t be too far away. (12) GEUMA SUPREME has races just twice before, at 1000M and 1300M, finishing in 5th place on both occasions. He’s been steadily away both time and finishing off well and the step up in trip may suit.

Selections (8) Myeongma Jilju (12) Geuma Supreme (3) Raon Jewang (6) Cheonse Manse
Next Best 2, 7
Fast Start 4, 10

Race 5: Class 5 (1700M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(1) ENDURANCE got his maiden win at the fourth time of asking over 1300M three weeks ago. He’s up in class and distance today but has claims on a repeat. (2) BULHUUI MYEONGGOG is already a class and distance winner having prevailed in a very similar strength race to this in January. He went up in the weights as a result and finished 4th on re-appearance last month and today an apprentice jockey cancels out that weight and he should be back close again. The experienced (11) LAST JACKPOT has finished 3rd in each of his latest two, both and 1700M and should be close while both (10) JEONGSANG YEOSIN and (12) MYEONGJIN MAN come in with the recent form looking encouraging and they can compete for at least a place.

Selections (1) Endurance (2) Bulhuui Myeonggog (11) Last Jackpot (10) Jeongsang Yeosin
Next Best 12, 8
Fast Start 1, 6

Race 6: Class 4 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million

A winner of two from four and 3rd in the other two, (2) YAHO THUNDER CAT is up in class today and despite racing at further than five furlongs for the first time, looks to be the one to beat. The other standout is (9) GONG SAN. A class and distance winner in December, she’s run well for 4th and 2nd in two subsequent starts. She’s not the fastest of starters so needs to make sure she’s not caught behind traffic but if she gets a clear run, she can win. (3) EAST KINGDOM was very disappointing on his latest appearance in December. He has talent though and may be better for the three months he’s had off with a good trial outing last week a positive sign. (6) BEYOND OVER drops back in trip and can improve while (11) GEUMA GLORY is another who can challenge for a place.

Selections (2) Yaho Thunder Cat (9) Gong San (3) East Kingdom (6) Beyond Over
Next Best 11, 5
Fast Start 2, 4, 11

Race 7: Class 4 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

(1) MIGHTY M has run well in all three starts so far and today’s step up in trip could be just what he needs to make his breakthrough. Moon Se Young climbs aboard for the first time and he looks nicely in here. (2) HWANSANG STAR has been runner-up in each of his latest two, the latter of which was at this distance, and he will be a threat again, most likely getting an easy early lead. (6) ECHO GOLD and (3) MAJJABEUN SON came home 3rd and 4th respectively when they raced at class and distance on February 24th. There was just over half a length between them that day and both should be looking to at least match those finishes today. (8) CHANGE MAKER has shown some promise in three outings so far. The Aussie import tackles two-turns for the first time here and it may suit.

Selections (1) Mighty M (2) Hwansang Star (8) Change Maker (6) Echo Gold
Next Best 3, 7
Fast Start 2

Race 8: Class 4 (1700M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million

(9) CHARON BLADE has two wins and two runner-up finishes from four starts so far. She’s up not only in class here, but also significantly in trip, having not raced at any further than 1300M (and she didn’t win that). She looks to have solid potential and if she gets the trip, she has every chance of winning. (10) MIGHTY MAMBO will get the trip. He comes in having finished well for 2nd last time out at class and distance. (3) HAMBAK MISO ran 4th in that same race, his first try at 1700M and can have come on for it. (5) GRAND DOLPUNG ran 3rd at this distance on a wet track on what was his first try at this level last month. He’ll challenge Charon Blade for the early lead and can be a danger. (4) MONEY POCKET had a hard time on her first class and distance attempt in the same race behind Grand Dolpung, but hopefully learned a little from that and can improve today – his dam at one point held the 1800M track record here so the distance shouldn’t be a problem.

Selections (9) Charon Blade (3) Hambak Miso (10) Mighty Mambo (5) Grand Dolpung
Next Best 4, 6
Fast Start 5, 9

Race 9: Class 3 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million

(1) RAON SIRIUS was an 18/1 winner over this distance on February 23rd, coming from last to 1st in the home straight. He’s up in class here but has been consistently running well and a repeat isn’t impossible. (10) GLOBAL QUEEN was 3rd on her first try at this class a month ago and should be a contender again. She’s a front-runner and will need to overcome the widest draw she’s ever received but she’s got ability. (9) BIG EAR could only manage 6th behind Global Queen last month but her stable has come right back into form and she can get closer today. (2) GEOSEN MAPUNG and (5) SPEED IS KHAN are others with serious claims in what is a very competitive looking race.

Selections (1) Raon Sirius (10) Global Queen (9) Big Ear (5) Speed Is Khan
Next Best 2, 8
Fast Start 2, 4, 6, 10

Race 10: Class 3 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million

(9) HEUNG BARAM is a class and distance winner as recently as January and we’ll draw a line through his latest effort last month as he lost lots of ground at the start after jumping awkwardly. If he gets away better this time, he surely goes close. (5) LUXURY HAPPY comes in here in consistent form, albeit it is consistently finding one or two too quick. That may well be the case again today, but she won’t be far away.  (12) GUREUM SONJITHAE came home 4th behind Luxury Happy last time out (interestingly, the jockey weighed in half a kilo more than he weighed out), less than half a length behind, and will surely be competitive too. (1) MUSA and (4) SOJUNGHAN MANNAM are ones who can improve on their recent form and challenge for the minor money here.

Selections (9) Heung Baram (5) Luxury Happy (12) Gureum Sonjithae (1) Musa
Next Best 4, 10
Fast Start 1, 2, 9, 10

Race 11: Class 2 (1800M) Handicap / KRW 90 Million

(9) DOKDO JIGI has won six of eight so far and five in a row including at this class over 1400M last time. It’s a big test today though as he tackles two turns for the first time and a big test for apprentice jockey Moon Sung-hyeok who is brought in to keep the weight down. It’s a test both can come through. (10) FLYING MUNNING finally go this maiden win at the twelfth time of asking at the end of January. It came at this distance and while he is up in class, he is very nicely weighted and surely goes close. (8) SIMPLE LIFE may only have finished 6th at class and distance last start but the margins were tight, and he’ll be a threat here. (7) SARYEONI HEALING and (11) LEONNING STROM are others in the frame.

Selections (9) Dokdo Jigi (10) Flying Munning (8) Simple Life (11) Leonning Strom
Next Best 7, 12
Fast Start 8, 9, 10

Race 12: Class 3 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million

(7) THUNDER MARK was well-backed on his first try at this class and distance on February 17th, but he was fractious in the barriers, jumped awkwardly and raced ungenerously. Despite all that, he still managed to come 2nd. Moon Se Young, who rode him on his sole victory to date, returns to the ride and he has a big chance here. (1) MONEY BLADE finished 4th behind Thunder Mark last start. He has almost five-lengths to find on the favourite but should be good for a place. (2) TO GO WIN was 5th in the same race, a further two-lengths back, and she too can get closer today. (9) KILIUI JEWANG and (10) MALIBU GINGER are both up in class after good wins last time and while they will need to improve, can’t be ruled out of a money finish.

Selections (7) Thunder Mark (1) Money Blade (2) To Go Win (10) Malibu Ginger
Next Best 9, 11
Fast Start 1, 3, 9, 10

Busan Friday: Race-By-Race Preview (March 22)

The weekend’s Korean racing gets underway at Busan on Friday with 11 races from 11:30 to 18:00. Here are the previews:


It’s Friday. It’s Busan

Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

(10) BONINARA was a much improved 2nd on her second career start last month at this trip and she should push on here to make the breakthrough. She’s the banker favourite of the day but if she does come up short then (4) ANY GOOD DAY is the most likely to take advantage. She ran 3rd on debut three weeks ago, running on well and coming off the back off a positive trial performance in February, suggests she has plenty of potential. (1) YEONGGWANGUI KISS ran well on debut in December and while she didn’t impress on her return last month, she should have benefitted from that run and can be better today. (3) DAENARYS IJI and (7) MAJOR HIT others in the placing frame.

Selections (10) Boninara (4) Any Good Day (1) Yeonggwangui Kiss (3) Daenarys Iji
Next Best 7, 11
Fast Start 1, 2, 3, 10

Race 2: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(2) FUNKY has improved across three starts so far, all at this distance, culminating in 2nd place a month ago. She will need to continue to make progress in what is quite a decent maiden, but she has a good chance. There are two debut-makers and (4) RAPTOR CORE looked nice and competent when winning a trial last month. It was on a wet track so the time may be a touch artificially fast but there’s no reason why she can’t be in the hunt first up. (5) TWO TWO FIRE has finished no worse than 4th in three efforts so far and can continue that consistent run here while (3) CHODONG DAEJANG looks to be figuring things out after an improved ran last start. (1) JIGURYEOK PALPAL, another last start improver is best of the rest.

Selections (2) Funky (4) Raptor Core (3) Chodong Daejang (5) Two Two Fire
Next Best 1, 11
Fast Start 1, 2, 3, 4

Race 3: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

(11) TOHAM IMPACT ran 2nd on debut on February 22nd and she can step up and go one better today. (12) NAEGA SAEGANGJA has finished no worse than 4th in three attempts so far and while he disappointed in wet conditions when odds-on favourite last time out, can be given another chance today. Those two look a cut above but (6) WONDERFUL IJI has shown steady improvement over three outings to date while both (9) USEUNG STORY and (10) FIGHT MAGIC have 3rd place finishes to their names already and shouldn’t be too far away here. (6) WONDERFUL IJI has also demonstrated some ability over three outings so far and can at least challenge for a place.

Selections (12) Naega Saegangja (11) Toham Impact (9) Useung Story (10) Fight Magic
Next Best 6, 8, 1
Fast Start 1, 10, 11, 12

Race 4: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(7) DOCTOR WEEK looked ready to win after a 2nd and a 3rd to round out last year. He’s gone a little cold in his latest two but shouldn’t be written off yet. He’ll be on pace again and hopefully this time can stick to his task a little better. (12) SUN MOUNTAIN wasn’t ready on debut last November but looked far more accomplished on his return four weeks ago. He finished 4th in arguably a better race than this and is a serious contender here. (3) ULTRA POWER beat a couple of these on his way to 6th place last start and looks set to go closer here. (10) CHANGE BACK debuted in that same race and didn’t do too much wrong. There are two debut-makers and (9) DONGBANG NARAE, who finally appears on the track at age 4, looked good in a trial two weeks ago.

Selections (7) Doctor Week (12) Sun Mountain (3) Ultra Power (9) Dongbang Narae
Next Best 10, 2
Fast Start 3, 7

Race 5: Class 6 (1600M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

Weak looking maiden here. (7) DYNAMIC BOLT and (2) DOCTOR MIMI finished 3rd and 4th with just a head separating them when they raced each other at this distance on March 1st. Both are likely to be on the early speed here and it would be a surprise if they weren’t competing the finish between them. It’s a toss-up between the two but we’ll go for Doctor Mimi to come out on top. (11) YEONGBONGSAN looks to have been figuring things out in his latest three and steps up in trip to a mile for the first time today with solid claims on a place. (1) SEONGSAN POWER and (4) WILD GERANIUM are other first-timers at the distance who could go close.

Selections (2) Doctor Mimi (7) Dynamic Bolt (4) Wild Geranium (11) Yeongbongsan
Next Best 1, 10
Fast Start 2, 7, 10

Race 6: Class 5 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(6) BUGYEONG STORY got the best of a tight three-way finish at this distance on February 15th, defying her 36/1 odds. (1) USEUNG TICKET flashed home late and wide in that race, dead-heating for 2nd place, just a nose behind. The two of them should be competing for top honours once again here and we’ll go for Useung Ticket, drawn inside today, to overturn that form. (3) REALLY ONE and (4) RACHEL has just half a length separating them when they came home 5th and 6th at class and distance on February 24th and both (more…)

Sensational Silver Wolf – The Old Great Mare Is Just What She Used To Be!

The Great Australian Mare has done it again! No, not that one. Silver Wolf powered her way past all her rivals to win the Seoul Racehorse Owners’ Association Chairman’s Cup at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon, her fourth Group race victory, and cemented her place as one of the most decorated race mares in Korean history.

Under a patient ride by Yoo Seung-wan, Silver Wolf still had eight in front of her as she entered the home straight, but once she found room and her stride, she motored past them all, going away to win by almost two lengths on the line. It was her fourteenth win in total and fourth Group triumph on what was her first start as a seven-year-old.

Pre-race most of the attention had been on the return of Cheongdam Dokki. Seoul’s highest rated horse was making his first start for Luigi Riccardi and first since down at 1200M in more than two years. With the feeling that s flat-out Cheongdam Dokki could have the race won before his rivals got anywhere near top-gear, the five-year-old was sent off as the odds-on favourite.

It was not to be for Cheongdam Dokki though. Not as sharp as others coming out of the gates, he looked slightly ungenerous and uncomfortable throughout although he did gather himself together in the straight, picking off several to finish in 5th place. He’ll be back and winning again.

As it was, Gaon Champ who set the pace. The Trainers’ Cup winner jumped slightly at the start and then hard to work hard to hold his rail position ahead of Panorama Show and Sinui Myeongryeong. He did that, holding the lead until the final furlong, ultimately ending up in 4th on what was his first taste of true elite company. Panorama Show, the last of the early leaders to succumb, was a revelation in 3rd place.

Perhaps the performance of the race came from runner-up Mask. As expected, last year’s Korean Derby 2nd place-getter didn’t quite have the early speed needed to sit just off the leaders and got shuffled back further than he would have liked and ended up hampered rounding the corner. Once he found his run in the home straight though, he was superb, getting the closest to Silver Wolf on the line and with only the winner and the closer Cheonjiga, who came from last to 6th in the final furlong and a half, matching him for speed late on. He can have a big say in the top races later in the year.

This time though the day belonged, as it has so many times before, to Silver Wolf.

Seoul Owners’ Cup Sunday: Race-By-Race Preview (March 17)

The first Group race of the 2019 Korean season will be run at Seoul on Sunday and it could hardly be stronger as some of Seoul’s top performers step out over 1200M in the G3(KOR) SROA Chairman’s Cup (Owner’s Cup). They include Seoul’s top-rated horse, Cheongdam Dokki, champion mare Silver Wolf as well as up and coming stars Mask and Gaon Champ. There are 11 races at Seoul from 10:45 to 18:00 and 6 at Busan from 12:40 to 17:10.

Cheongdam Dokki Mayors

Cheongdam Dokki

A winner of twelve of nineteen career starts, Cheongdam Dokki is a force at any distance and the five-year-old kicks off his campaign having concluded 2018 by running 2nd in the Grand Prix Stakes, a race in which he beat Dolkong, who is now at Meydan preparing to run in the Dubai World Cup. Since then he’s moved stables and makes his first start for Italian trainer Luigi Riccardi. Antonio Da Silva rides for the first time with the pair having looked sharp when smartly finishing off a trial in February. At his best, he will be very difficult to beat.

Silver Wolf is always difficult to beat. The mare, who won all three legs of the Queens’ Tour in 2017, beat Triple Crown and Grand Prix Stakes winner Power Blade on her way to victory in the Busan Ilbo Cup last year and although she came up slightly short in the very best company throughout the summer and autumn, she began this season with a strong win in the Donga Ilbo Cup over 1800M a month ago. Unlike many in this race, she doesn’t need to lead and if she gets a good trip, her class will see her very close.

As for the four-year-olds, last year’s Korean Derby runner-up Mask was an impressive winner of the Segye Ilbo Cup at the end of January, beating Sinui Myeongryeong, who also takes her chance here, by over two lengths. It was a strong performance and Mask is ideally drawn in gate 1 to sit behind the early leaders and come through powerfully in the latter part of the race.

Then there is Gaon Champ. Conservatively campaigned after suffering some setbacks – he’s only raced nine times in total, winning seven – he was last seen winning the Trainers’ Cup at this distance just before Christmas. While he hasn’t been spectacular, he has been consistently fast and may raise his game in his first test at the elite level.

Aside form the big-four there are plenty of others capable on their day, including last year’s victor Cheonji Storm and prolific class 1 handicap winner Cheonjiga. The grand old man of Korean sprinters is in attendance too although drawing gate 12 has done 2015 Asia Challenge Cup winner Choegang Schiller no favours. Full previews of every race (with Busan Selections at bottom):

Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

Quite a weak maiden to begin with and given that’s the case (9) AUSPICE, one of three debut-makers, must be given a chance. He led all the way in a competent looking trial two weeks ago and has nothing to fear first-up here. Of the ones who have raced before, (3) BLACK WINGWING and (10) YAHO M J CAT are the only ones to have registered top three finishes, both at this distance and they can be expected to be among the more fancied ones here, as can (2) RAON PATRICK who comes in after back to back 5th places and looks to have improvement in him. (11) INDEPENDENCE has weakened late on in his latest two over 1300M so may be better back at 1000M today.

Selections (9) Auspice (10) Yaho M J Cat (3) Black Wingwing (2) Raon Patrick
Next Best 11, 1
Fast Start 2, 4, 9, 10

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

Maiden for three-year-olds only. (9) O PI M J is the likely favourite having run 2nd and 3rd in his latest two both at 1000M. He’s run on nicely both times and the step up in trip today could suit him. (5) WONDERFUL PANGPANG struggled at this distance last time but has had seventeen weeks off since. He previously managed 3rd place in a similar race to this and can at least match that today. (6) BAEKSAEK GWANGCHAE and (7) MENI SPEED came home 3rd and 5th respectively when they raced each other at this distance on February 16th and both look to have scope for improvement here. There are two first-time starters and of them, (2) DIXIE AGAIN, from an in-form stable, looks to have the best chance of making an immediate impact.

Selections (9) O Pi M J (2) Dixie Again (7) Meni Speed (5) Wonderful Pangpang
Next Best 6, 1
Fast Start 2, 4, 5

Race 3: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(1) PUNGMUNEURO disappointed when well-backed to break his maiden at this distance on February 21st. It was an eventful race, however, and he is probably worth giving another chance to here, based on his performance prior to that. (8) GWANGPOK JUHAENG did perform in that race, coming home a much-improved 2nd and he will be one of the main dangers here, as will (7) GEOTAP, an improved 4th last time out. Other than those we are scraping about a bit although (2) REAL GANGJA, who unseated his rider on his latest start, and (3) EDWIN have both hinted at ability and could go well here.

Selections (1) Pungmuneuro (8) Gwangpok Juhaeng (7) Geotap (2) Real Gangja
Next Best 10, 6
Fast Start 5, 8, 10

Race 4: Class 5 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

(3) NANGMAN STAR enters with recent form reading well at class and distance and following a 2nd and a 3rd from his latest two, can be backed to come out on top today. He’ll go back at the start but can finish strongly. Both (1) DELTA BROTHER and (2) HARD PRINCESS are up in class after maiden wins last time out. Delta Brother has far more potential form improvement and while it’s his first try at this trip, he should be a danger, likely leading from the start. (10) RAISE ME UP raised himself up into contention with a good 2nd place at class and distance last start, running on nicely to make up a lot of ground in the closing stages. (5) LUCKY BONGHWA and (6) BAEKDUI TAEYANG are others to consider.

Selections (3) Nangman Star (1) Delta Brother (10) Raise Me Up (5) Lucky Bonghwa
Next Best 6, 8
Fast Start 1, 7

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

(7) BANJIUI HAMSEONG is the one to beat here. He got his maiden win at the second time of asking in December and has since run in respectable 4th and 3rd place finishes at this level. He’ll be close to the pace from the start and should have too much. (2) MAGPIE is up in class having won over this distance a month ago. He will need to improve quite a bit but can’t be ruled out. (10) HANIL MAGIC was an improved 2nd at class and distance on February 17th and has placing chances again. (9) HEUNG KKAEBI and (11) INDY LADY have similarly proven themselves capable of finding the money at this level and should be in the hunt.

Selections (7) Banjiui Hamseong (2) Magpie (11) Indy Lady (9) Heung Kkaebi
Next Best 10, 4
Fast Start 2, 7, 9, 11

Race 6: Class 4 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million

(6) MATCH QUEEN has won her latest two in fine fashion to get promoted to this class and she enters as strong favourite to complete a hat-trick of wins here. She’s made all in all three of her wins to date and should do so again. It’s going to be hard to beat her but (10) EMORY SOCKS looks best placed to take advantage of any slip-ups. She was found slightly lame after her latest outing three weeks ago but is fit now and drops back in trip today, which should suit. (1) SOULY MAJESTIC has only raced twice and hasn’t done too much wrong. She steps up in trip for the first time and can get closer to the money. (5) FINAL ESSENCE and (7) GOLD BLUE MAGIC are others in the placing hunt.

Selections (6) Match Queen (10) Emory Socks (1) Souly Majestic (5) Final Essence
Next Best 7, 2
Fast Start 2, 5, 6

Race 7: Class 4 (1700M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million

(5) DEOBUREO SOOP will be strong favourite to score here. A class and distance winner in January, he then beat four of these on his way to 3rd place on February 16th, coming impressively from off the pace. He should have too much today. (8) SEUNGRI NARAE was 4th that day and is among the most likely to get close again while (9) STRONG RUNNER and (4) JEJUI HEUKSEON were further back but have both previously run very solid class and distance 3rd place finishes and are capable of going better here. Among those who didn’t go in that race, (3) MONSTER QUEEN looks to be the best.

Selections (5) Deobureo Soop (8) Seungri Narae (4) Jejui Heukseon (9) Strong Runner
Next Best 3, 7
Fast Start 4, 6, 7, 10

Race 8: Class 3 (1700M) Handicap / KRW 75 Million

(4) COVERGIRL JUSTICE is the new 1300M track record-holder having absolutely smashed the previous mark, albeit in very speedy conditions, at the beginning of February. She’s up in class and in distance here but is favoured to strike again, leading from the start. (9) DAEGUN JEPAE is also up in class following a maiden victory, in his case a battling win over this distance four weeks ago. He will join Covergirl Justice in competing for the early lead. (7) CHOEGANG GOSU has run creditably in two tries at this distance leading up to this and should go close while (6) LOVE IT and (12) BLUE MA STAR are others who should be challenging at least for places.

Selections (4) Covergirl Justice (9) Daegun Jepae (7) Choegang Gosu (12) Blue Ma Star
Next Best 6, 2
Fast Start 4, 5, 9

Race 9: Class Open “SROA Chairman’s Cup” (KOR G3) 1200M / Allowance / KRW 400 Million

  1. MASK – Won the Segye Ilbo Cup, a trial for this race at the end of January in commanding fashion coming from just off the pace. Well drawn to do the same and should sit just behind the early leaders. He’s in deeper water today but shouldn’t be far away.
  2. GAON CHAMP – Lightly raced but he’s won seven of the nine he’s taken on so far. Last seen winning the Trainer’s Cup just before Christmas. He’s not been asked to do very much so far but what he has, he’s done exceptionally well, and this could be a big year for him. The time off should have him just right and he can win.
  3. SILVER WOLF – One of the top race-mares to run in Korea, she returned to the winner’s circle with victory in the Donga Ilbo Cup over 1800M at the beginning of February. She’s won plenty of races at this distance too and is still among the best at Seoul at any trip. Others slightly favoured this time, but her class is not in doubt and it isn’t impossible.
  4. WINNER RED – Went through 2018 winless although in fairness tended to run in top-class company. Drops back to this trip for the first time since his debut all the way back in 2015. Won a trial last month but this is a hard ask. Needs a good start.
  5. PANORAMA SHOW – A touch disappointing in 6th when favourite over 1400M in January, he was getting plenty of weight when he won a class 1 handicap at that distance on February. He’s going to need to improve here.
  6. PARANG JUUIBO – Now a nine-year-old, recent form doesn’t inspire. He’s been winning trials but has been unable to repeat on the track. The booking of Alan Munro is a plus and with a fast start he can still beat a few.
  7. LEAD MONEY – She won the Jeju Governor’s Cup over 1400M last October but has struggled in two races since then, most recently well back behind Silver Wolf in the Donga Ilbo. Should appreciate the drop back in trip here if not necessarily the step up in company.
  8. CHEONGDAM DOKKI – Formidable at any distance, it’s a long time since he raced at this distance but that doesn’t mean much. Plenty of speed and overall the best horse in the race. This is though his first start since running 2nd to Triple Nine in the Grand Prix over 2300M and first for trainer Luigi Riccardi. Looked well in a trial last month and at his best, wins.
  9. CHEONJIGA – Has to be in the frame with three class 1 wins from his last four outings. On the flip side, he was getting weight all three times. He is a come from behind type and the race needs to set itself up for him. He will pass plenty, the question is just how many.
  10. CHEONJI STORM – The defending Champion. He put in one or two really strong performances last summer including 2nd to Cheongdam Dokki in the Busan Mayor’s Cup at a mile. However, he struggled in the latter part of the year and started this term no better when 6th behind Mask in the Segye Ilbo Cup. Trialled well two weeks ago but it will take more than that for him to be backable here. Bled last start.
  11. SUPER FLUID – Loads of potential but this may be a bit too much too soon. Finished 4th in a very quick Nonghyup Chairman’s Trophy against fellow juveniles last autumn but is yet to be tested beyond class 3 company but he does get a nice light 53kg to carry.
  12. CHOEGANG SCHILLER – The eight-year-old is one start into a comeback and while he finished 8th behind Cheonjiga, he was carrying 60kg, a full 8kg more than the winner. He should have come on for that run and while the wide draw won’t help, don’t rule out him getting close.
  13. SINUI MYEONGRYEONG – Ran 2nd to Mask in the Segye Ilbo Cup in late January and has been beaten by Lead Money and Panorama Show in recent outings too. Rarely too far away but this is difficult.