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1st Korean Winner For Jockey Francois Herholdt

Francois Herholdt has ridden his first Korean winner. It came aboard favourite Jeonsaui Jilju (Tiz Wonderful)  for trainer Bart Rice in the 1300M race 4 at Busan on Friday afternoon:

It was Herholdt’s 19th ride in Korea since beginning two weeks ago. He had scored three 2nd places prior to the win.

It didn’t take long for number 2 to arrive either as Herholdt guided Queen Of Captain (Ecton Park) to victory in race 7 to complete a double on the day:

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Triple Nine, Cheongdam Dokki Among Grand Prix Nominations

Twenty-eight horses have been nominated for the Grand Prix Stakes, the traditional season-ending finale which is set for Seoul Racecourse on Sunday December 9th and will be run over the longest distance in use in Korean racing, 2300M. They include the now four-time President’s Cup Champion Triple Nine as well as Busan Mayor’s Cup and KRA Cup Classic victor Cheongdam Dokki and Korea Cup 2nd place-getter Dolkong.

Power Blade Grand Prix Fnish1

Power Blade won the Grand Prix in 2017 but is now retired althoough the other two horses in shot – Dongbang Daero & Cheongdam Dokki, could be back for another go (Pic: KRA)

With last year’s winner Power Blade having been retired this summer, there is only one previous Grand Prix winner among the nominations. That’s Clean Up Joy, who triumphed in the 2016 edition and would be tackling the race for the fifth time. For Triple Nine, 3rd last year, it would be fourth attempt with his best finish being 2nd to Clean Up Joy in 2016.

Ten of the nominated horses are trained at Seoul, including Cheongdam Dokki, Clean Up Joy and Dolkong, while the remaining eighteen are from Busan. The maximum field size for the race is sixteen. Busan-trained horses joined the race for the first time in 2009 and have won six of the subsequent nine runnings.

All four foreign trainers based in Korea are represented at this stage. Peter Wolsley, who won the race with Bold Kings in 2015 has put forward Ppudeut and Royal Ruby while Thomas Gillespie has Great King and Champ Line. Along with Dolkong, Simon Foster has nominated Choego Money while Bart Rice is set to once again send Buhwarui Banseok, who finished very strongly for 5th place a year ago.

First run in 1985, the Grand Prix remains the race every Korean owner, trainer and jockey wants to win. It’s place in the calendar at the end of the year and its unusual distance as well as until recently being one of the few Korean Group 1 races not restricted to locally-bred horses make it a unique challenge with the winner traditionally almost always becoming Horse Of The Year. That’s not necessarily the case these days but even in the Korea Cup era, the Grand Prix still hasn’t lost its luster.

Three horses have won the race twice. Po Gyeong Seon in the 1980s, Ka Shock Do in the 1980s and Dongbanui Gangja in the 2000s and the list of winners is a roll call of the biggest names in Korean racing over the past three decades. In addition to the two-time winners, such luminaries as Subsidy, Mister Park, Tough Win and of course Power Blade have come home in front in December. For all his achievements, Triple Nine is yet to add his name to the list. It might be fourth time lucky this December. Here’s the full list of preliminary nominations:

SEOUL
Cheonji Storm
Singgeureoun Geom
Wild Thunder
Cheongdam Dokki
Clean Up Joy
Tosconova Cat
Road Winner
Ultra Rocket
Dolkong
Choego Money

BUSAN
Champ Line
Great King
Baekmunbaekdap
Today
Triple Nine
Saengil Gippeum
Ppudeut
Royal Ruby
Buhwarui Banseok
Stealth
Indian King
Hello Venus
Jumbo Blade
Good Casting
Adeleui Chukje
World Sun
Dongbang Daero
Wooa

Can He Make It Four In A Row? Triple Nine’s President’s Cups So Far

A year ago, Triple Nine emulated Dangdae Bulpae in winning the President’s Cup for the third consecutive year. Now the six-year-old has a chance to enter unchartered territory as he bids to take home the trophy an unprecedented 4th time.

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Triple Nine (Picture: Alex Cairns)

It’s not only never been done in the President’s Cup before but it would be a first time in any Korean Group Race. Here are his wins so far:

2015 – Reward at least after Classic near-misses

Having finished 2nd in the Korean Derby to Yeongcheon Ace and 2nd in the Minister’s Cup to Rock Band, Triple Nine beat both his fellow three-year-olds to more than make amends for missing out in the Triple Crown races. Under Lim Sung-sil, Triple Nine was sent out as slight faovurite and stalked the early leaders before unleashing in the home straight to score by three-lengths from Rock Band and outsider Ildeung Hanghaesa.

2016 – Putting his Stablemate, the Triple Crown winner, firmly in his place

Stablemate Power Blade had won all three legs of the Triple Crown but he was no match for Triple Nine, who two months earlier had also finished ahead of him in the inugural Korea Cup. The younger horse could get no closer than three-lengths on the line as Seo Seung-un steered Triple Nine to a comfortable win. Success Story, who had run well at the Dubai World Cup Carnival at the stand of the year came home in 3rd place. Two months later, both Triple Nine and Power Blade would themselves jet off for successful stints in Dubai.

2017 – Beating Power Blade Again

With Power Blade having recently finally started to get the better of his rival, most pundits were of the opinion that this time there would be a changing of the guard. Not a bit of it as with Lim Sung-sil up once more, Triple Nine collared Power Blade with a furlong to go, zipping by him as if he was wasn’t there to claim his hat-trick by two-legnths on the line. The board ended up identical to that od 2016 with Success Story once more in 3rd.

Dangdae Bulpae won three consective President’s Cups between 2010 and 2012 but while he did attempt a fourth in 2013, it proved a race too far as he finished 10th of 16 as Indie Band took victory and was retired afterwards. Both Indie Band and Dangdae Bulpae are now retired at Isidore Farm on Jeju Island – the farm where Triple Nine was foaled.

DangdaeBulpae Statue4

Dangdae Bulpae now has his own bronze statue at Busan Racecourse (although his greatest wins were at Seoul he, just like Triple Nine, was trained on the South Coast). Triple Nine’s statue is already assured. If he wins on Sunday, it may just be in Gold.

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.