Race Reviews

Silver Wolf Maintains Outstanding 2017 Record in Munhwa Ilbo

Silver Wolf may only have run five times in 2017 but it’s been a golden year for the Aussie import. Last Sunday at Seoul, she took home yet another big prize, scoring in the Munhwa Ilbo Cup over six furlongs.

Having won the Ttukseom Cup over 1400M and the KNN Cup at a mile, Silver Wolf has essentially already won the “Queens’ Tour” series for fillies & mares even before the final leg – the 2000M Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup in November. She has spent the early autumn sprinting, running a very creditable 5th in the Korea Sprint in September and then picking up Sunday’s Munhwa.

The strong early pace suited Silver Wolf’s style and under a patient ride from Djordje Perovic, Silver Wolf turned on the accelerator just as the early leaders started to fade. She went away to win by just under two lengths from two other fast finishers, Daisyan and Parang Juuibo.

Munhwa Ilbo Cup – Seoul Racecourse – 1200M – October 15, 2017

1. Silver Wolf (AUS) [Oratorio – Ready For More (More Than Ready)] Djrodje Perovic – 1.5, 1.0
2. Daisyan (USA) [Rock Hard Ten – My Catriona (Tactical Cat)] – Shinji Hatanaka – 2.5
3. Parang Juuibo (USA) [With Distinction – Spicy Souffle (French Deputy)] – Lim Gi Won – 1.8
Distances: 1.75 lengths / 0.5 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Wonder Bolt (USA) 5. Choegangja USA) 6. Cheonjiga (USA) 7. Always Winner (KOR) 8. Zentenary (USA) 9. Clean Up Bingo (KOR) 10. Cheonma (USA)

Advertisements

Power Blade Cuts Down Triple Nine Again

Power Blade asserted his dominance, at least at short distances,  over stable-mate and long-time rival Triple Nine with a commanding win in the Kukje Sinmun Cup at Busan Racecourse on Sunday Afternoon.

Since the pair returned from the Dubai World Cup Carnival earlier this year, they have raced each other twice with Power Blade prevailing both times; first over a mile in August’s Owners’ Cup and then again in Sunday’s Kukje at 1400M. Last year, Triple Nine got the better of the then 3-year-old Power Blade at 1800M, 2000M and 2300M.

Given a better draw, Power Blade may well have won the Korea Sprint. Instead he was a fast finishing 2nd behind Japanese raider Graceful Leap. That day Triple Nine went in the Korea Cup and once more was the best Korean finisher in 4th. Today they raced together but at the distance, Triple Nine was always going to struggle to get into top gear in time to trouble his younger rival.

As it was Franco Da Silva took things up on Power Blade as they entered the home straight and he ran on strongly to win by almost three lengths on the line. Triple Nine, still getting faster, was 2nd with Seoul-trained City Star pipping Success Story for 3rd.

It was Power Blade’s tenth career win and took his earnings to well in excess of US$2 Million. Whether he takes on the President’s Cup and Grand Prix Stakes once more at unfavourable distances remains to be seen but hopefully connections can be persuaded to have another crack at Meydan in the new year. Cheongdam Dokki and Final Boss (if we forgive the unpredictable latter’s 4th in a 1200M Sprint on Sunday) are the young pretenders but Power Blade and Triple Nine remain very much the big boys of Korean racing right now.

Kukje Sinmun Cup – Busan Racecourse – 1400M – October 1, 2017

1. Power Blade (KOR) [Menifee – Cheonmachong (Lost Mountain)] – Franco Da Silva – 1.5, 1.1
2. Triple Nine (KOR) [Ecton Park – A Little Poke (Pleasant Tap)] – Lim Sung Sil – 1.0
3. City Star (KOR) [Menifee – City Styling (Carson City)] – Kim Yong Geun – 1.7
Distances: 2.5 lengths/3 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Success Story 5. Dongchonui Achim 6. Cheonji Park 7. Baedari Bobae 8. Rocket Blade

Racing takes a one week break now with the action resuming at Busan on Friday October 13th.

World Sun, Choinma Land Juvenile Series Prizes

World Sun and Choinma set themselves up as front-runners for this year’s Juvenile Honours with the pair claiming big prizes at Busan and Seoul this afternoon. Both came from behind to respectively win the Gold Circle and Gyeonggi Governor’s Trophy.

Neither were favourite but both ran out convincing winners. In the Gold Circle at Busan, Kim Young Kwan’s Classic Match was punter’s overwhelming first choice having impressed on his debut and for much of the race, it looked as though the Hansen colt was going to dominate from gate-to-wire. In the final furlong, however, he began to start tying-up and World Sun, the 6/1 second-favourite, having come from last place easily swept by to win win by an ever-increasing four-lengths. Captain Force, stablemate of Classic Match and half-brother to 2016 Korean Oaks winner Ottug Ottugi, was 3rd.

Gold Circle Trophy – Busan Racecourse – 1200M – September 24, 2017

1. World Sun (KOR) [Officer – Dancing Desire (Mr. Greeley)] – Lim Sung Sil – 6.6, 1.5
2. Classic Match (KOR) [Hansen – Intouchable (Elusive Quality)] – Ham Wan Sik – 1.0
3. Captain Force (KOR) [Peace Rules – Main Objective (Lion Heart)] – Jo In Kwen – 2.1
Distances: 4 lengths / 1.5 lengths – 9 ran

At Seoul, Icheon Ssal was sent of as favourite in the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup. He arrived two for two although much of that was down to the excellence of Johan Victoire’s ride on a soaking wet track last time. It was always going to be harder to get up today.

As it was, Icheon Ssal never came close as Hoeng Un Gol set the early place only to be ground down in the closing stages by second-favourite Choinma who ran on to win by just over a length.

Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup – Seoul Racecourse – 1200M – September 24, 2017

1. Choinma (KOR) [Menifee – Kkumaeul (Curia Regis)] – Choi Bum Hyun – 3.3, 1.4
2. Hoeng Un Gol (KOR) [Forest Camp – Miss Travelin (Lycius)] – Moon Se Young – 2.0
3. Wonderful Jackpot (KOR) [Ingrandire – Endless Heroine (Oath)] – Jang Chu Youl – 2.4
Distances: 1.25 lengths / 3 lengths – 11 ran

Sunday at Seoul also saw another impressive performance by Cheongdam Dokki (To Honor And Serve). The three-year-old was absolutely effortless in winning a class 1 Championship Series race over 1800M by 14-lengths. He moves on to six wins from ten starts and is by far the hottest property at the track right now.

Korea Cup & Sprint 2017 – The Review

The 2nd Korea Autumn Racing Carnival took place at Seoul Racecourse over the weekend. There’s no need to re-tell what happened here as pleasingly, the race has received plenty of international coverage, save to say that Yutaka Take guided Graceful Leap to victory in the Sprint while in the Cup, London Town downed last year’s winner Chrysolite to make it a Japanese one-two.

SML_8471_resized

London Town and Chrysolite dominated for Japan in the Korea Cup (Pic: Ross Holburt)

On the track, London Town was simply sensational. He came in having broken the 1700M track record at Sapporo less than a month ago and absolutely dominated the Cup, taking well over a second off the Seoul 1800M track record in the process. Last year’s winner Chrysolite had absolutely no answer. That said, the Japanese pair finished a full 17-lengths clear of Papa Shot in 3rd and demonstrated just how good JRA horses, even those not quite at the very top, really are.

20170912142415063221

London Town in the Korea Cup Parade Ring (Pic: KRA)

Graceful Leap’s Sprint win was naturally less emphatic but it was still convincing. Korean Triple Crown winner Power Blade ran a huge race in 2nd place and while he was never likely to be as inconvenienced as some others by the wide draw, one can’t help but wonder whether he would have got much closer had he been able to begin from a more favourable gate. Doraonpogyeongseon ran on very nicely too proving himself a real racehorse. In the Cup for Korea, while Champ Line put in a good run, ultimately it was all about Triple Nine as it so often is. He and Power Blade have turned into such good ambassadors for Korean racing that how to replace them when their powers begin to wane is starting to be an issue. But of course, that’s part of what makes racing so fascinating.

DSC_3729_resized

Graceful Leap and Yutaka Take cross the line in the Sprint (Pic: KRA)

The performances of the two American-trained horses was one of the Carnical’s highlights. In the Sprint, The Truth Or Else was drawn in gate 1 but jockey Dylan Davis was forced off the rail and went wide to find a run. He closed very strongly for 4th place and a tidy prize that fully vindicated the decision of his enterprising connections to bring him. Trainer Kenny McPeek was a boisterous presence throughout the week and led his charge in the parade ring himself prior to the race. Picking up an even tidier prize was Papa Shot, 3rd in the Cup despite having to recover from some interference four furlongs out.

DSC_3743_resized

Take returns to scale (Pic: Ross Holburt)

McPeek estimated that The Truth Or Else would be ranked around 20th in terms of sprinters in the United States and one wonders what one ranked even higher could achieve especially as the nature of the Sprint makes it by no means a race that JRA horses will automatically dominate. As for Papa Shot, he’s a very solid horse but no superstar but looks the kind of horse you’d love to own. Bill Nader, representing the man who does own him, Barry K. Schwartz, made the point before the race that Papa Shot had run at all sorts of tracks in the US and almost always gave a good account of himself. Those tough and grinding types can find their reward on the Seoul sand and while at 1800M, it would take something special to beat a JRA horse or a Hong Kong galloper that gets on with the track, a really top American horse might just be able to do it.

One disappointing note was the performances of the Hong Kong horses. With the races being beamed live to a busy Sha Tin, it was a pity that neither Lucky Year nor Circuit Land made any impact in the Sprint and Cup respectively. Circuit Land perhaps had some excuses having been prominent early but was then forced to check with four furlongs to go as a result of a poorly judged manouevre by Lee Chan Ho on Dynamic Jilju. However, Papa Shot was also disadvantaged by that incident and overcame it and jockey Nash Rawiller admitted his mount never really looked to be in the hunt. Meanwhile, Lucky Year didn’t get the start he needed and once the sand started flying, his race was over.

However, Super Jockey won the Sprint last year and both Circuit Land and Lucky Year appeared to pull up fine so hopefully the races will still prove attractive to Hong Kong connections in 2018.

DSC_3781_resized

Graceful Leap (Pic: Ross Holburt)

It was tough too for the French contingent. City Money unfortunately was scratched from the Sprint after picking up an injury between the airport and the racecourse on his way in. Meanwhile Skiperia and Nimr found life difficult in the Cup although Nimr’s 6th was by no means a bad performance. The enthusiasm that all connected with the horses brought, as well as the always jovial presence of “France Sire” providing coverage was a big enhancement to the weekthe always jovial presence of “France Sire” providing coverage was a big enhancement to the week and hopefully more French challengers will return in future.

Promising young Singapore-based trainer James Peters brought across Wimbledon for the China Horse Club. After showing prominently early on under Daniel Moor, he faded in the closing stages but reportedly pulled up fine.

DSC_3978_resized_1

One thing that is evident is that despite being in just its second year, the Carnival is already establishing itself as an event in its own right to the extent that what happens in the actual races becomes almost secondary. Everyone knows about the track surface by now – it is what it is – and the atmosphere surrounding the whole week was extremely positive.  The travelling international press corps was larger than last year and within Korea, cable network KBS N Sports broadcast highlights of the races in a 75 minute show at 10pm on the day of the race and then repeated it in primetime at 8:20pm on Monday night. There is a feelgood environment about the event that is perhaps only possible with a relatively young race, enthusiastic connections and still a sense of the huge potential that could be realised in future years. That Keeneland go out on a limb to sponsor the race right on the very eve of one of their biggest and most important sales of the year, perhaps demonstrates this.

On to attendance and turnover.  Attendance was actually down on last year but there is a good reason for that. In 2016, the Korean “Chuseok” Thanksgiving holiday – one of only two weekends of the year with no racing – immediately followed the Carnival. Attendance always shows a spike prior to dark weeks as there is no opportunity for a legal punt for the next 12 days. As it was 39,910 paid ($2 each) to come through the gates at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday compared with in excess of 44,000 last year.

Wagering turnover on the day was also down but interestingly, both Cup and Sprint showed slight increases. The Sprint handled 4.37 Billion Won in 2016 to 4.39 Billion Won this time while the Cup went from 4.8 Billion Won last year to 5.12 Billion Won in 2017 and followed the regular pattern of turnover getting bigger as the day progresses (for obvious reasons, turnover on the final race of the day is always the biggest). Local punters find it very hard to handicap international races due to the form being hard to assess but with more familiarity, it appears Korean racegoers are now prepared to have a go.

Internationally, both races were simulcasted by the Hong Kong Jockey Club and by Sky Racing in Australia. The Singapore Turf Club took the Sprint as did Malaysia while the entire day was available for betting at the Macau Jockey Club. In the USA, Sky Racing World distributed every race to  ADW’s. TVG Network broadcast both Sprint and Cup. Overall international turnover slightly exceeded domestic turnover (Hong Kong obviously accounting for the vast majority). Dubai Racing TV also screened both big races live.

DSC_3951_resized

Laboum in the winner’s circle (Pic: Ross Holburt)

This is Korea. There needs to be progress year on year. Local assessments will probably focus on the dominance of the Japanese runners and that one fewer country was represented than in its inaugural year (the USA joined but the UK and Dubai didn’t send any runners this time). However, that should be countered by the sheer quality of London Town’s performance and also by the positive showing by the US runners. There’s a year to go until the next Carnival. The Korea Cup & Sprint have not yet come of age, but they are very much on the right course.

Victoire Pulls Off Spectacular Juvenile Win On Icheon Ssal As Records Tumble At Soaking Wet Seoul

Have a look at this – Johan Victoire bringing Icheon Ssal from last to first in the final furlong to win a valuable Juvenile race at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday.

Icheon Ssal (Capital Spending) provided Victoire with his first Korean winner on his first ever ride at Seoul just under a month ago. It was Incheon Ssal’s debut that day too and he reappeared on Sunday in a race exclusively for 2-year-olds who graduated from this Spring’s Jeju Breeze-Up Sales.

It was the ride that got the attention though, as French jockey Victoire brought Icheon Ssal from last to first in the closing stages to grab victory on the line.  Victoire’s performance was one of a number of impressive returns from foreign jockeys across the weekend with Antonio Da Silva at Seoul and both Franco Da Silva and JP Guillambert at Busan also being in top form.

Speaking of top form, Cheongdam Dokki has beenturning heads recently. An American import, 3-year-old Cheongdam Dokki (To Honor And Serve) ran out a 17-length winner over 1800M at class 2 last month, despite playing up in the parade ring and bolting on his way to the gate. The antics were limited this Sunday for what was his first try at both class 1 and 2000M. It went rather well:

Late nominations for the Korea Cup for locally trained runners open briefly on August 25…

Cheongdam Dokki would have broken the track record for 2000M had Kim Yong Geun not almost slowed him to a walk by the time they crossed the line but two record did fall on Sunday on a track that was racing exceptionally fast after 15 hours of continuous downpours. Those were at 1700M where Dangdae Geoljak (Peace Rules-So Original) set a new mark of 1:46.6 in race 8 and then at the Korea Sprint distance of 1200M which now has a new record of 1:10.6 following the efforts of Cheonjiga (Trappe Shot-What A Girl Needs) in the closing race 11.

At Busan, the feature race was won by Triple Nine’s little sister, the Thomas Gillespie trained Black Sapphire (Ecton Park-A Little Poke) while the 2yo Breeze-Up-grads race was won by Kim Young Kwan’s Classic Match (Hansen-Intouchable).

Jangsan Power Clings On In Ilgan Sports Cup

Jangsan Power led from the gate and clung on desperately until the wire to win the listed Ilgan Sports Cup at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon.

The Ilgan Sports this year was for horses rated 80 or less and up-and-comer Big Trio was sent off as favourite having won his last three with considerable ease. It was not to be for the three-year-old though with French jockey Johan Victoire needing to get after his mount early and Big Trio ultimately offering little in the straight.

Instead it was another three-year-old who took the honours. Jangsan Power had set the early pace in the Korean Derby in May, leading until just before the furlong pole when he ran out of steam and ended up only beating one home. He stepped back to 1700M for his reappearance last month and made all and was sent off the 5/1 second favourite for the Ilgan.

Once more Jangsan Power made all but he had to see off a last gasp challenge from My Blade who gobbled up his lead in the closing stages to the extent that a photograph was needed to tell them apart. It went Jangsan Power’s way by a nose but a couple of strides later, it wouldn’t have. Gaia Thunder was in close attendance in 3rd.

IlganPhoto

On the line, Jangsan Power still had a nose in hand of My Blade

Jangsan Power moves on to five wins from nine starts. For trainer Park Jae Woo it was his third Listed or Special race winner. For jockey Lim Gi Won it was his second following his victory on Always Winner in the Segye Ilbo Cup in January.

Ilgan Sports (L) – Seoul Racecourse – 1800M – July 30, 2017

1. Jangsan Power (KOR) [Menifee – City Bird (Carson City)] – Lim Gi Won – 5.5, 2.2
2. My Blade (KOR) [Pico Central – Smart Advice (Smart Strike)] – Kim Yong Geun – 2.4
3. Gaia Thunder (KOR) [One Cool Cat – Now Cope With This (Tiznow)] – Yoo Seung Wan – 4.0
Distances: Nose / 0.75 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Kawon 5. Perfect Shine 6. Raon Morris 7. Big Trio 8. Yeongnong 9. Royal Victory 10. Haetbinna

Seoul will take next weekend off but Busan will return for a rare Saturday card on August 5th and a bumper 15-race card on Sunday August 6. For the first time next Sunday, Korean racing will be available for betting in the United States, distributed to ADW’s through Sky Racing World. More on that in the coming days.

Silver Wolf Adds KNN To Ttukseom In Busan Romp

Plenty doubted her but today at Busan, Silver Wolf answered in emphatic fashion, crushing her rivals in the KNN Cup to add to her Ttukseom Cup last month and put herself withing touching distance of a clean sweep of the Queens’ Tour series.

SIlverWolfKNN1

Silver Wolf & Yoo Seung Wan win the KNN Cup (Pic: KRA)

There was an enforced jockey change with Djordje Perovic being indisposed and also the nagging doubt that Haeya only allowed herself to be caught in the Ttukseom Cup because she had set off early in the race in pursuit of a couple going too fast. Haeya was duly sent off the odds-on favourite with Silver Wolf in excess of 7/1 on the Korean tote.

The early but not unexpected scratching of Ottug Ottugi meant there was going to be one less on the early speed but as it was, Gaenari, under Kim Yong Geun set off from gate 13 like the proverbial scalded cat, looped the field and had three lengths on the rest withing a furlong. Concerningly for favourite backers, Haeya, this time with Ham Wan Sik on board, gave chase with Silver Wolf and Yoo Seung Wan tracking her every move.

So they remained until the straight until Gaenari, inevitably, ran out of steam (she would equally inevitably finish last). With her out of the way though, it was Silver Wolf took charge with Haeya having nothing to give. The race was won a furlong and a half from home and the Aussie-bred 5-year-old cruised home with a winning margin of five lengths.

That nine lengths wasn’t to Haeya. She found herself caught by the game Mighty Gem, who dispelled the ever-present doubts about her soundness by running on tremendously to go from 10th to 2nd in the home straight and snatch the big runner’s-up purse. Another pair of outsiders, O.K. Yeondap and The Queen Silver came home next to make it four Seoul horses out of the top five.

Silver Wolf [Orotorio – Ready For More (More Than Ready)] was a $40,000 purchase from Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale in 2014. Today was her 7th win in 16 career starts and takes her to over 800 Million Korean Won in Prize money. For trainer Song Moon Gil, it was his 3rd Group race win – his others coming through Clean Up Joy in last year’s Grand Prix and of course, Silver Wolf in the Ttukseom Cup. It is jockey Yoo Seung Wan’s first Group win. His previous biggest victories had come with a pair of wins in the Segye Ilbo Cups of 2013 and 2016.

The final leg of the Queens’ Tour is the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup which will run at Busan on November 12th. A lot can happen between now and then and it will be over 2000M. Nevertheless, that just means Silver Wolf has an extra few months to get even better. A clean sweep could very well happen.

SilverWolfKNN3

Silver Wolf in the KNN Cup winner’s circle (Pic: KRA)

KNN Cup (KOR G3) – Busan Racecourse – 1600M – July 23, 2017

1. Silver Wolf (AUS) [Orotorio – Ready For More (More Than Ready)] – Yoo Seung Wan – 8.3, 1.8
2. Mighty Gem (USA) [Macho Uno – Shimmer (Pulpit)] – Kim Hye Sun – 12.6
3. Haeya (USA) [Flatter – Luxaholic (Macho Uno)] – Ham Wan Sik – 1.1
Distances: 9 lengths / 0.5 lengths
Also Ran: 4. O.K. Yeondab (USA) 5. The Queen Silver (KOR) 6. Gold Blue (JPN) 7. Supreme Magic (USA) 8. Black Sapphire (KOR) 9. Santa Gloria (KOR) 10. Areumdaundonghaeng (USA) 11. Steal The Show Why (KOR) 12. Queen’s Queen (KOR) 13. Queen Two Hearts (KOR) 14. Gaenari (CAN). NR: Ottug Ottugi (KOR)