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1st Career Winner For Apprentice Jeong Hyeong Lae

It had been coming for some time and apprentice Jeong Hyeong Lae rode his first career winner at Busan on Friday afternoon, guiding Makgang Bolt (One Cool Cat) to victory in race 8:

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Ten Overseas Runners For Korea Cup & Sprint Work At Seoul (Pictures)

All ten overseas-trained horses for the 2018 Keeneland Korea Cup & Sprint have now arrived and all worked on the track at Seoul Racecourse on Tuesday morning.

Japanese pair London Town and Moanin schooled in the parade ring as did Hong Kong’s Fight Hero. They were later joined by Riven Light and King Malpic, while the remainder did light work on the track. All ten are expected to be out again at 4:30am on Wednesday. All pictures by Ross Holburt for Korea Racing Authority:

Cup:

London Town.jpg

London Town

Riven Light

Riven Light

Forest Ranger.jpg

Forest Ranger

Maximus

Maximus

Ennobled Friend

Ennobled Friend

Sprint:

Moanin

Moanin

Wild Dude

Wild Dude

Chublicious

Chublicious

King Malpic

King Malpic

Fight Hero

Fight Hero

Korean Racing Webtoon “Track” Now Online

“Webtoons” have become very popular in Korea in recent times and the KRA’s broadcasting arm has recently released its own racing-focused one on Facebook.

Track Header

From left: Charming Girl (!), Dangdae Bulpae and Baekgwang in webtoon form (Pic: Track)

The series, called “Track”, which is so far up to episode 3, tells the story of three apprentice jockeys preparing for the Korea Cup of 2020 and features appearances by three of the best-known horses in Korea; Baekgwang, Dangdae Bulpae and er….Charming Girl.

Currently it’s only in Korean so outside of the peninsula it may only be of interest to those learning the language but the three episodes to date still have some fun pictures to scroll through.

It’s at: https://www.facebook.com/koreatrack/

track1

Seoul Racecourse getting the webtoon treatement (Pic: Track)

 

Some Thoughts on the KRA Trophy at Kranji in Singapore This Coming Sunday

The Korea Racing Authority Trophy will be run at Kranji Racecourse in Singapore on Sunday and for the fourth year in a row, Korean horses will be taking part. The record of those who have made the trip in previous years is somewhat less than stellar so can Today, Gakbyeolhan and Approach do differently this time around?

The trio hve been at Kranji for almost a week now and the Singapore Turf Club has an excellent write up of their progress as well as an interview with Franco Da Silva, who will be partnering Today in the 1200M race, which is worth S$250,000.

First the history, and it’s not good from a Korean perspective. 2015 saw the inaugural running of the race with Gamdonguibada, Cheon Gu and Nobody Catch Me making the trip. Cheon Gu led  into the home-straight before tiring and being passed. Gamdonguibada, perhaps predictably for a miler dropping down to six furlongs, took a while to get going and never really fired, beating just one. Nobody Catch Me, however, ran on well for 6th place, just over four lengths behind the winner.

In 2016, it was the turn of Always Winner, Triple Five and Parang Juuibo with the latter of them being the best finisher, matching Nobody Catch Me’s 6th. Last year neither Choegangja, who was highly thought-of going into the race, nor Zentenary – who was less so – were able to make much impact, with Choegangja coming back with heat-stroke.

While the surface is evidently very different, that alone is insufficient in explaining away the hitherto poor performances; Korean horses have run well on dirt in Dubai, albeit with a longer acclimatization period. The tempo of the races is also something that tends to test Korean-trained horses when going overseas with a higher “cruising speed” required rather than the “go as fast as you can from the gate” tempo that tends to be prevalent here. They’re capable of doing it but it isn’t easy – Power Blade, for example, ran very well in Dubai but he was an exhausting watch with his rider having to contantly battle simply to keep him in contention.

So can this year’s trio make an impression? On paper, we should be very excited about Today (Drosselmeyer) and if the race was on the Korean sand, he would be the favourite. And if he takes to the polytrack even slightly, then he should be right in it. Paper isn’t polytrack though. A winner of 10 from 13, the one concern is that when Today finally met top class opposition in the SBS Sports Sprint at Seoul in early June, he came up slightly short running 3rd behind Doraonpogyeongseon and Choegang Schiller – both very accomplished sprinters. It was also his first time racing away from his home track of Busan. Da Silva rode him for the first time that day and explained that he didn’t feel the horse was as balanced as he could have been but still ran well.

In Today’s favour, he is still relatively young at four and with just those thirteen starts behind him, is perhaps not so set in his ways as to find it impossible to adapt to a different tempo of race running. He is very nicely drawn in gate 7 but he doesn’t need to lead from the start. This is a horse who has run 1:11.1 for the 1200M on the sand of Busan and 1:12.5 when carrying 58kg, a half kilo above Sunday’s assignment. He can post a competitive time on the polytrack.

A stablemate of Today, Gakbyeolhan (Big Brown) was a standout juvenile who won four of his first five races. He then missed more than a year through injury, returning in the middle of his four-year-old season in June 2017. He’s won twice since coming back but both of them have been in the last four months over 1800M and 2000M respectively. Dropping back to a sprint distance today makes for a bit of an unknown but he will be expertly piloted by Fergus Sweeney, who rides in Singapore for the first time. Gakbyeolhan can give a good account of himself although expectations will not be high.

Approach (Pico Central) beat Gakbyeolhan on the way to his latest victory on what was his most recent start back at the beginning of May. That was over 1800M and he hasn’t raced at Sunday’s distance since his second ever start all the way back in October of 2014. That doesn’t mean he can’t sprint, but once a horse gets up to class 1 in Korea, there are more oportunities around two-turns. As with Gakbyeolhan, a creditable showing is a realistic target. Lee Hyo Sik, who has ridden Approach in his latest two starts (and has won on Today as well), rides.

Both Da Silva and Sweeney have picked up outside mounts and so will be familair with race riding on the track before the Trophy race. As for the Singapore horses, they look as competitive as ever in the race which will jump at 17:05 local time. Based on previous experience with Korean horses in Singapore, where even the ones with expectations upon them have come unstuck, it would be easy to toss out the chances of any of them. However, taking this set of three in isolation, we can be cautiously optimistic about Today at least, holding his own.

 

 

 

Four Long Standing Seoul Trainers Retire

Four of the longest-serving trainers at Seoul Racecourse officially gave up their barns last week. Ha Jae Heung, Kim Yang San, Yang Jae Cheol and Jung Ji Eun all reached the mandatory retirement age of 63 in the year leading up to June 30th. 

Trainers Retirement

Three of the four retiring trainers, Ha Jae Heung, Kim Yang Sun and Yang Jae Cheol alng with significant others at a retirement function hosted by their Association (Pic: Seoul Racehorse Trainers’ Association)

All four trainers began their careers at the Ttukseom Racecourse in Seoul, Jung receiving his license in 1982 and Ha, Kim and Yang in 1983.  At the time there was no private ownership of racehorses with all horses being owned by the racing authority so it wasn’t until the 1990s, following the relocation of the racecourse to its current site in Gwacheon that the modern racing calender, complete with Stakes races and big purses began to take shape.

Jung Ji Eun – 8496 starters / 748 winners / 856 2nds / 786 3rds: A filly called Dangdae Jeil (Lucky Ruler) was his best horse of the 1990s, winning 25 of 60 starts between 1995 and 2001 including the Ttukseom Cup in 1997. Fillies would continue to be his specialty as he won the Korean Oaks and then a second Ttukseom Cup in 2001 with Espass (Psychobabble).  His final Stakes win came in 2009 with the filly Top Point (Tom Point) in the KRA Cup Classic.

Ha Jae Heung – 10535/937/1011/1042: Ha trained the winners of a number of listed races but only got the one Graded Stakes victory. It came with his best horse, Saebyeok Dongja (Fiercely), Korean Derby winner in 2005 and who would go on to 10 of his 37 outings. By far the most active of the four at the time of their retirement, he had sent out 20 winners from just over 300 starters in his final year.

Kim Yang Sun – 9088/907/912/908: Kim made his Classic breakthrough with Seonbong Taegam (Road Of War) in the Korean Oaks in 2000 and was champion trainer in 2001, a feat he would repeat in 2009. He will be most remembered though for handling one of the genuine stars of Korean Racing, Dongbanui Gangja (Broken Vow), who he prepared for back-to-back victories in the Grand Prix Stakes in 2008 and 2009.

Yang Jae Cheol – 6877/550/597/598: While Yang wasn’t able to win a Graded Stakes race, he did win the Sports Chosun Cup on two occasions, first with Dol Kyuk (Port Erin) back at Ttukseom in 1991 and then again at Gwacheon in 2002 with Cheonji Kiun (Glorify).

* Also leaving the training ranks last week was Heo Jae Young. The former jockey took out a license in 2012 but the forty-year-old has now decided to pursue a different path in the industry. He trained 53 winners from 1087 starters.

Summer Racing Schedule Begins This Week: Friday/Saturday Afternoon & Evening, Sunday Daytime

Racing in Korea moves on to a summer schedule from this coming weekend. Up until the first weekend of September, Friday racing will be from 2:30pm until 9pm and Saturday from 2pm to 9pm. Sundays will remain on the normal daytime schedule of 10:45am to 6pm. 

Seoul Night

Night racing at Seoul (Pic: KRA)

So from Friday July 6 to Sunday September 2 inclusive:

Fridays: Busan / Jeju – 14:30-21:00
Saturdays: Seoul / Jeju – 14:00-21:00
Sundays: Seoul / Busan – 10:45-18:00

Each of the three tracks will also take one weekend off during this time. Jeju will be off on July 27/28 which means Busan will run an extended card on the Friday and Seoul will run an extended card on the Saturday.

Seoul is off on August 4/5. Jeju will run an extended card on Friday while Busan will run on Saturday and Sunday. That means there will be no international simulcast on the Friday.

Busan takes its weekend off on August 10/12. Jeju again runs an extended Friday card while Seoul does the same on Sunday. Once more that means no international simulcast on the Friday.

Racing under the lights at Seoul on a warm summer’s Saturday evening is quite the experience so do be sure to check it out if you have the chance.

 

Ha Jae Heung, Derby Winning Trainer Retires

Ha Jae Heung, who trained Saebyeock Dongja to win the Korean Derby in 2005 and sits in 2nd place in the all-time winner list among trainers at Seoul, has retired. He saddled his final runner in the last on Sunday.

Ha Jae Heung trainer

Among trainers at Seoul, Ha Jae Heung was, at the time of retirement, join 2nd-longest serving behind Jung Ji Eun. 63-year-old Ha gained his license on the same day as Kim Yang San, at the old Seoul Ttukseom Racecourse in 1983.  He finished with just shy of 1000 winners from 10500 starters across his career. It may not sound a lot but Ha is from a generation of trainers who navigated the transition from the time when all racehorses were owned by the Authority, no prize money and restrictions on the number of runners a trainer could have, to the modern age of private ownership and Stakes racing.

Ha’s best horse was probably Saebyeock Dongja, who in addition to the Derby also won the Herald Business Cup in 2005 and the Sports Chosun Cup in 2006. He would win the latter race again with Sotong Sidae in 2015. His last Stakes winner was Waikiki in the Gwacheon Mayor’s Cup in 2015.

Ha Hae Heung went out with a winner on his final weekend as his Two Kay won the last at Seoul on Saturday under Manoel Nunes. It was winner 936 of his career.