Race Reviews

Antonio Notches Four While Luigi Moves to Within One Win of Top of Seoul Trainer Premiership

Temperatures plunged below zero across Korea at the weekend, but jockey Antonio Da Silva was in red-hot form, riding four winners across Sunday’s valuable card. Meanwhile on the penultimate weekend of the season, Luigi Riccardi saddled his 100th winner in the country to move within one victory of Park Jong-kon at the summit of the capital’s Trainer Premiership.

Antonio Da Silva with Luigi Riccardi looking on back in 2019 (Pic: KRA)

Da Silva got his first on the board in race 2, partnering Tony Castanheira’s Choegang Mirae to a five-length maiden victory. He followed up in race 4, the first of six Trophy races on the day benefitting the Retired Racehorse Welfare fund.

His ride on the juvenile Nut Play, who was stepped up to a mile for the first time, was typical Da Silva, boldly settling back despite having drawn the coveted inside gate over the Mile distance that has tended to favour front-runners. He waited patiently before finding the narrowest of gaps in the home straight and then unleashing his mount, who romped to an eight-length victory.

Further successes for Da Silva would come in race 6 with Tiz Barows, who was winning for the first time since finishing 4th in this Year’s Korean Derby, and in race 8 on Wonpyeong Cod, who got the better of a final furlong duel with favourite Double Edge.

Brazilian Da Silva debuted full time in Korea in 2017 after riding in Singapore and now has 295 winners in the country. He has three Group wins on his local resume having partnered Dolkong in the G2 KRA Cup Classic and Moonhak Chief in the G1 Grand Prix Stakes, both in 2019, and then Choegang Black in the 2021 Korean Oaks.

Choegang Black was the first Korean Group race winner for Luigi Riccardi and the Italian trainer, who also debuted at Seoul in 2017, passed another milestone on Sunday by reaching one hundred winners in the country.

Having saddled juveniles Black Motion and G Motion to victory on Saturday, Riccardi sent out debut-maker Wonderful Slew in Sunday’s race 1 and the filly (whose 2nd dam is Worldly Pleasure, the dam of American champion Game On Dude) ran on for a narrow half-length win under jockey Jeong Jeong-hee, who also partnered both of Riccardi’s winners on Saturday.

Those victories temporarily moved Riccardi up to 2nd place in the 2022 Seoul Trainer Premiership, before Seo In-seok struck back with Tiz Barows to join him on 42 winners for the year and move ahead on the tie-break by virtue of having one more runner-up. The pair are just one winner behind Park Jong-kon, who backed by the firepower of Raon, heads the Premiership with 43.

There is just one more weekend of racing to come and it isn’t inconceivable that it could all come down to the final race of the year, a class 3 sprint over 1200M at 6pm on Christmas Day. That race could see one of Riccardi’s up-and-comers Trotting Riley face off with Park’s Gwacheon Mayor’s Trophy winner Raon Giant with potentially the title on the line.

Racing resumes in Korea with a nine-race program on Friday December 23rd. On Christmas Eve there are ten races at Seoul while Christmas Day itself sees eleven races at Seoul and six at Busan to round out the season.  

Winner’s Man Bests Raon The Fighter in Grand Prix Battle for the Ages

Winner’s Man and Raon The Fighter turned the 40th running of the Grand Prix Stakes (2300M) into a match race and just as in the Korea Cup, it was Winner’s Man who ultimately prevailed as the pair duelled the final two-furlongs at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon.

Winner’s Man and Raon The Fighter drive for the line in the Grand Prix (Pic: KRA)

With Raon The Fighter having blitzed the KRA Cup Classic while Winner’s Man laboured to 3rd in the President’s Cup on their respective post-Korea Cup outings, punters were predicting a form reverse and sent Raon The Fighter off as the odds-on favourite.

From the plum draw of barrier two Moon Se-young took Raon The Fighter straight to the front and immediately dictated the pace the race would be run at. By the time they left the back straight and began the long turn for home, only Winner’s Man, who as he had done in the Korea Cup, improved up the field in the back straight under jockey Seo Seung-un, along with President’s Cup winner Raon First, remained with him.

Remote of the finish with Tuhonui Banseok looming (Pic: KRA)

Raon First was promptly seen off and Winner’s Man and Raon The Fighter would duel throughout the long Seoul Racecourse home straight. Raon The Fighter held firm, but Winner’s Man loomed up alongside with a furlong to run. Still Raon The Fighter didn’t buckle and matched him stride for stride for half the remaining distance. But Winner’s Man was relentless. At the one hundred metre point, he finally struck the front and this time Raon The Fighter had no more.

It had been a battle of wills and a battle of the two best horses in the country. Winner’s Man now carries off the accolade of Horse of the Year having vanquished Raon The Fighter at 1800M in the Korea Cup and 2300M in the Grand Prix, but Raon The Fighter lost nothing in either of those defeats. And given he remains arguably both the best sprinter and middle-distance horse in Korea, yet has runner-up finishes in both those longer distance Group 1 races, the debate as to which is better won’t go away.

The rest of the field might as well have been running in a different race but there was a stand-out performance by Tunhonui Banseok. The Bart Rice trainee had only raced eleven times previously, but under Park Jae-i, he navigated his way through a tiring field in the closing stages to get within a length and a quarter of Raon The Fighter on the line. Nine-lengths further back, the three-year-old Saryeoni First led the rest home in 4th.

How quickly things change. A year ago, after Haengbok Wangja’s emphatic win in the race, aged just four, he seemed set to dominate. Yet no horse who took part in last year’s race was among the first nine home this year, Simjangui Godong, 5th last year, was best placed in 10th. Haengbok Wangja himself only beat two home, while there was disappointment too for fellow Dubai Carnival hopeful King Of The Match. He was one of those two the 2021 champion finished ahead of.

(Pic: KRA)

Winner’s Man is by Musket Man who is owned, perhaps a touch ironically, by Raon The Fighter’s owner Son Chun-soo and is the centrepiece of the emerging Raon breeding and racing empire. Winner’s Man himself is owned by Lee Gyeong-hui. He is out of Winner’s Marine (by Volponi) who was bred and raced in Korea. Musket Man is now assured of finishing the year as Leading General Sire.

For trainer Choi Ki-hong it was his first Grand Prix and his fifth Group race win – all of them with Winner’s Man. Jockey Seo Seung-un rode his first Grand Prix winner. Having already ridden a President’s Cup and Korea Cup winner, he is just missing the Korea Sprint and Korean Derby from the Group 1 set.

Seo Seung-un with owner Lee Gyeong-hui and Winner’s Man (Pic: KRA)

With the running of the Grand Prix, the 2022 Stakes race program has finished, although there are still two more weeks remaining of the season, which concludes on Christmas Day. In Winner’s Man and Raon The Fighter, racing heads into 2023 with two genuine stars on its hands.

Speed Young Downs Fantastic Kingdom For Juvenile Crown

Fantastic Kingdom came up short in his bid for a clean-sweep of top juvenile races, as Speed Young romped by for a comprehensive victory in the Breeders’ Cup (1400M KOR-G2) at Busan Racecourse on Sunday afternoon.

Speed Yong wins the Breeders’ Cup – no, not that Breeders’ Cup (Pic: KRA)

Having prevailed in the Busan Rookie Stakes, the Areumdaun Jilju Stakes and the Gimhae Mayor’s Trophy, Fantastic Kingdom was sent off a slight favourite over the filly Jeulgeounyeojeong who had pushed him all the way in the Gimhae, over the shorter distance of 1200M a month ago.

The filly was scarcely a factor though as Fantastic Kingdom sat on an early pace that was set by Sun Dragon and Lucky Sun. Both “Suns” would fall away quickly as Fantastic Kingdom took up the running three furlongs from home. He looked set to go on, only for Speed Young, who had drawn the widest but one gate and then sat back in the field, to loom up.

With just over a furlong to run, Speed Young sped by and ran on to win by a comfortable five-lengths with Nonghyup Chairman’s Trophy 3rd placegetter Nanometa also emerging from the rear to claim 2nd place ahead of a tiring Fantastic Kingdom in 3rd.

The winner, who was racing for just the third time, was sent off slightly in excess of 10/1, fourth overall in the market. The relatively short odds reflected that in addition to his Areumdaun Jilju Stakes 2nd, he was just one of four who had previously won over the 1400M, coming from off the pace and beating a filly in Smarty Dolpung who herself went on to win in fine style on Friday.

Speed Young is from the final crop by Menifee and is out of Tapestry (by Fusaichi Pegasus). He was bred by Nokwon Farm and was purchased for 100 Million Korean Won by owners D R M City at the November 2021 KTBA Yearling Sale – a sale at which D R M signed for five of the top seven sale-toppers. He is trained at Busan by Bang Dong-suk, who sent out Hit Yegam to win two legs of the Triple Crown last year. You Hyun-myung, who rode Hit Yegam to both those wins, also partnered Speed Young.

Given that it was the only Group race on the schedule, the victory was enough to see Speed Young win the Juvenile Series and for Nanometa to leapfrog Fantastic Kingdom to claim 2nd. Only time will tell but the early indications are that this year’s two-year-old crop has been a good one and we could be set for a fascinating Triple Crown series in 2023, which will kick off in April with the KRA Cup Mile.

Next week the Stakes season draws to a close with the traditional season finale of the Grand Prix Stakes (2300M KOR-G1) at Seoul on Sunday afternoon. Korea Cup winner Winner’s Man is scheduled to run as is that day’s runner-up and subsequent KRA Cup Classic winner Raon The Fighter. President’s Cup heroine Raon First is also expected to be in the starting gate as is defending champion Haengbok Wangja as well as Simjangui Godong and Dubai Carnival hopeful King Of The Match with seventeen remaining in at this stage.

Juvenile Series: Fantastic Kingdom Wins Again, Hangang Ace Unseats Park Tae Jong as Saenae Town Scores

Fantastic Kingdom maintained his dominance of the juvenile ranks at Busan by winning the Gimhae Mayor’s Trophy, but at Seoul Hangang Ace spilled his jockey at the start ensuring that a new name would claim the NACF Chairman’s Trophy. That name would prove to be Saenae Town who came through late to score in a topsy-turvy finish.

At Seoul, Munhwa Ilbo Trophy winner Hangang Ace was sent off as warm favourite for the NACF Chairman’s Trophy (1200M Korean Listed). His challenge would end barely three strides out of the gate though as he stumbled, causing jockey Park Tae-jong to tumble forward and onto the sand.

That left Sun Dragon, the second favourite who had skipped both the Rookie Stakes and the Munhwa Ilbo, to set the pace. This he did with gusto, and he seemed set for a gate to wire victory until the very final strides when Saenae Town, 4th in the Munhwa Ilbo a month ago, swept by under Song Jae-chul in the shadow of the post.

Sun Dragon was 2nd a head in arrears while a stewards’ inquiry determined that a length behind them, Kwaehyang, who crossed the line in 3rd place, had interfered with Nanometa in 4th and their placings were reversed.

Saenae Town is by Purge and is out of Oh My Creek (by Creek Cat), who raced in Korea. He was bred by Nokwon Farm and is owned by Moon Geum-cheol and trained at Seoul by Seo Hong-soo. The victory kicked off a remarkable end of Sunday’s card for trainer Seo, who proceeded to send out the winner of the remaining three races as well.

At Busan, it wasn’t easy for Fantastic Kingdom, but he managed to hold off a determined challenge from Jeulgeounyeojeong to add the Gimhae Mayor’s Trophy (1200M Korean Listed) to his previous successes in the Busan Rookie Stakes and Areumdaun Jilju Stakes.

Fantastic Kingdom was beaten on debut but has since won four in a row to top the juvenile rankings. He is by Concord Point and out of Union Belle (by Dixie Union). He was bred by Jung Hwan of Taesan Farm, is owned by Moojigae Rentcar and is trained at Busan by Lim Keum-man. Seo Seung-un piloted.

Jeulgeounyeojeong was just half a length back in 2nd place and intriguingly has already won over 1400M which is the distance of the Breeders’ Cup (KOR-G2), the race which will decide the ultimate destination of the title of Champion Juvenile on Sunday December 4th. With Saenae Town also threatening to get stronger as the distances get longer as well as a host of other juveniles who were steered away from this weekend’s features, and Fantastic Kingdom may not have things all his own way next month.

Next weekend, the top locally bred horses in the country will gather at Seoul for the President’s Cup (2000M KOR-G1) on Sunday afternoon. Korea Cup hero Winner’s Man currently tops the expected field.

Raon The Fighter Dominates KRA Cup Classic

Raon The Fighter delivered a consummate display of excellence at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon, effortlessly crossing to the front and proceeding to run the rest out of the race to win the KRA Cup Classic (2000M KOR-G2) in front of a raucous 27,000 strong crowd.

Having duelled with Japan’s Sekifu throughout the majority of last month’s international Korea Cup (1800M-IG3) but ultimately tire late on as Winner’s Man came through to take a spectacular victory, Raon The Fighter was sent off as the odds-on favourite to return to winning ways in the principal lead up to the season finale Grand Prix Stakes. The only questions were whether he could get a good position from the widest gate and whether he could see out the extended trip of 2000M, a distance he was tackling for the first time. Those who posed those questions, quickly regretted doing so.

Other than in the Korea Cup, Raon The Fighter’s only defeats had come in sprint races when stumbling at the start and then working too hard to get on terms. This Sunday, he broke beautifully from gate thirteen and jockey Moon Se Young was able to steer him across to the front immediately.

Had anything even wanted to take him on for early speed, it is doubtful whether they could have done such was Raon The Fighter’s authority, although King Of The Match and Tuhonui Banseok would gamely sit within striking distance exchanging 2nd and 3rd positions throughout. Two little accelerations from Raon The Fighter, first at the top of the home straight to put him firmly in the clear, and then again a furlong out when into unchartered territory distance-wise at the furlong pole, and Moon Se Young was left looking behind him to see if there were any dangers.

There were no dangers. Raon The Fighter was eased home for a five-length win with King Of The Match getting closest in 2nd and then a seven-length gap back to Tuhonui Banseok in 3rd. Behind them, 2021 Grand Prix Stakes winner Haengbok Wangja was 4th while Geuma Mystic and Moonhak Chief came home in 5th and 6th.

Raon The Fighter debuted in November 2020, just after racing resumed behind closed doors and for severely restricted prize money. He would have five wins on the board before prizes were restored to meaningful levels the following July and didn’t get to run in a Group race until November 2021 when he destroyed Eoma Eoma in the SROA Chairmans Trophy (1200M KOR-G3).

The KRA Cup Classic is Raon The Fighter’s third Group win having also won the Busan Owners’ Cup (1600M KOR-G3) this July. The four-year-old entire, who is by Bayern and out of Empire Maker mare Clarinda, is owned by Son Chun-soo of the ever-growing Raon racing empire which stands the stallion Musket Man. He is trained by Park Jong-kon, who now almost exclusively trains Raon horses. For trainer Park, it was a fourth KRA Cup Classic after Mari Daemul in 2013 and Cheongdam Dokki in 2017 and 2018. For jockey Moon Se-young, it was a third win in the race, having partnered Pocketful Of Money in 2007 and Cheongdam Dokki in 2017.

The logical next step for Raon The Fighter would be the Grand Prix Stakes in December and a possible rematch with Winner’s Man, who will most likely be contesting the President’s Cup next month. There are two big stars in Korean racing right now, and they will collide again soon enough.

Raon The Fighter Lands Emphatic Knockout In Owners’ Cup

Raon The Fighter roared back into the winner’s circle at Busan Racecourse on Sunday afternoon, running his rivals off their feet for a statement victory in the Owners’ Cup (1600M KOR-G3).

Raon The Fighter was the easy winner of the Owners’ Cup (Pic: KRA)

On his thirteenth career start, Raon The Fighter was sent off at a price greater than even-money for just the third time ever. That came off the back of two shock defeats in the Sprint Series, as he finished 2nd in both the Busan Ilbo Cup and SROA Chairman’s Cup in April and May. He was luckless both times both times, but those setbacks were enough for punters to be wary and also for connections to replace regular jockey Lee Hyeok with Moon Se-young.

From a good draw and on a hot and humid afternoon in Busan, Raon The Fighter turned the race into a procession. This time there was no stumble at the start, as there was in the Busan Ilbo. Nor was there a bump with Black Musk and then a speed duel with Hit Yegam happened in the SROA.  Instead, Raon The Fighter got a clean break and an easy lead as You Hyun-myung opted to take a sit on Hit Yegam.

Hit Yegam and Simjangui Godong were still within a length at the top of the home straight, but once Moon Se-young let his mount off the bridle and asked for an acceleration, Raon The Fighter’s response was instant. Moon was able to stop riding fifty metres from the line and ease home for a four-length triumph, stopping the clock just eight-seconds outside Blue Chipper’s track record, set in this race in 2019.  

Behind Raon The Fighter, King Of The Match closed significantly faster than anything else, but he couldn’t get past the ever game Simjangui Godong, the pair dead-heating for 2nd place, a full seven-lengths clear of Daemangui Gil in 4th.

Disappointments of the race were SROA winner Black Musk, who was 7th and especially Success Macho, who having suffered his first ever defeat in this race last year, was never a factor and only beat home one.

Raon The Fighter could very easily be thirteen for thirteen and closing in on Mister Park’s all time. It remains true though that he has only been beaten by Eoma Eoma and Black Musk and in mitigating circumstances.

His next outing will surely be in either the Korea Cup (1800M G3) or the Korea Sprint (1200M G3), the two international races at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday September 4th and one of the most exciting things about Raon The Fighter is we still have no idea what his best distance is. Nominations have been received from several countries for both international races, including Asian powerhouses Japan and Hong Kong, as well as from Europe. Whichever race he opts for, Raon The Fighter could very well offer the visitors a stern examination. Both King Of The Match (Korea Cup), an intriguing talent who like Raon The Fighter, is still only four-years-old, and Simjangui Godong (either Korea Cup or Korea Sprint) are likely to be involved on international day too.

Raon The Fighter is by Bayern and out of the Empire Maker mare Clarinda. He was imported in-utero although Bayern himself is now in Korea too, standing at Great Hill Farm on Jeju Island.

The Owner’s Cup marks the final Stakes race of the first part of the season. The tracks (including the Jeju Pony Racecourse) now take it in turns to take a week off. Jeju goes on vacation first meaning next week Busan goes solo on Friday, Busan and Seoul race on Saturday, and Seoul has a standalone meeting next Sunday. The next Graded races in Korea are the International Korea Cup (1800M G3) and Korean Sprint (1200M G3) at Seoul on Sunday September 4th.

Winner’s Man Beats Haengbok Wangja To Claim YTN Cup

Winner’s Man’s stock continues to soar as last year’s Korean Derby winner defeated last year’s Grand Prix Stakes winner, Haengbok Wangja, in a home-straight joust in the YTN Cup (2000M KOR-G3) at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon.

Seo Seung-un salutes the crowd aboard Winner’s Man (Pic: KRA)

The YTN Cup was the second leg of the 2022 “Stayer Series” but while Winner’s Man ran out the easy winner of the first race, the Herald Business Trophy (2000M KOR-L) earlier this month, he was still only sent off as second favourite for Sunday’s race. That was because Haengbok Wangja, emphatic winner of the season-ending Grand Prix Stakes on Boxing Day, joined proceedings and was locked in as the odds-on favourite.

Drawn the widest in the field of eleven, Winner’s Man was ridden hard from the gate by jockey Seo Seung-un to get up on the pace but had to yield the lead Touch Star Man, a winner of two legs of the Triple Crown in 2020, on his inside as the field headed into the first corner. Touch Star Man’s stablemate King Of The Match joined them on pace while Haengbok Wangja was settled into 4th.

Touch Star Man was the first to give way turning for home and King Of The Match’s challenge promptly folded too, leaving Winner’s Man and Haengbok Wangja to battle it out over the final two furlongs. Always on top, Winner’s Man never let his rival get to within less than a length of him and ultimately crossed the line going away. The pair were a full seven-lengths clear of Geuma Mystic in 3rd while the nine-year-old Shamrocker ran an excellent 4th.

Winner’s Man is by Musket Man and is out of Winner’s Marine (by Volponi), who was a six-time winner in Korea. He was winning for the eleventh time in sixteen starts and for the second time at Group level, following his triumph in the delayed Korean Derby last November.

(Pic: KRA)

Just as it was a second Group win for the horse, so too it was for trainer Choi Ki-hong, for whom Winner’s Man is turning out to by far the best horse in an eighteen-year career. Jockey Seo Seung-un, was partnering his ninth Group race winner.

The win means that Winner’s Man now has an unassailable lead in the Stayer Series with one race still to come, the Busan Mayor’s Cup (KOR G2), the most valuable leg of the series in terms of prizemoney, which will be run over the slightly shorter distance of 1800M at Busan on June 26th.

Winner Star Lands Djordje Perovic Second Derby Win

Winner Star closed late to overhaul Seungbusa and win the 25th running of the Korean Derby (1800M KOR-G1) at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon, and in doing so, gave jockey Djordje Perovic his second win in the biggest of the three-year-old Classics.

Winner Star wins the Derby (Pic: Ross Holburt/KRA)

Just as in the KRA Cup Mile, Complete Value was sent off as favourite, ahead of the first jewel’s winner Captain Yankee. As expected, Seungbusa set the pace, and the Sports Seoul Trophy winner was in it for a long way as Complete Value stalked handy and looking as though he was ready to make a move.

It never happened. In the home straight, Seungbusa pressed on, and while Complete Value’s challenge waned, Winner Star ran on down the outside of the field, striking the front in the final furlong, and went on to win by two-lengths.

Captain Yankee’s late charge saw him come home in 3rd while Tiz Barows was an excellent 4th. Another Triple Crown series newcomer Wow Wow was 5th ahead of Complete Value in 6th.

Winner Star sees off Seungbusa (Pic: Ross Holburt/KRA)

Winner Star was the only horse in the starting gate to have already won over the distance and after the race, winning jockey Djordje Perovic stressed the importance of that to in-house broadcaster, KRBC.

“His (Winner Star’s) previous experience at nine-furlongs was the key. The Derby was the target and so we prepared really well. We focused on the tactics for the race and where we needed to be in the final stage. It worked out perfectly.”

On a day where there were more racegoers in Seoul Racecourse than at any other time since before the pandemic, Perovic had a message for his fans: “I am so grateful for the support from racing fans here and I am very happy I can repay them by winning this race.”

Perovic went on to acknowledge the bumper Sunday crowd, who had taken advantage of the traditional free entry on Derby Day with the total attendance as big as for a Korea Cup. Perovic previously won the Derby on Save The World in 2020 at a pandemic-enforced deserted Seoul Racecourse. “I actually don’t think I have ever raced in front of so many people as were here today. It was brilliant.”

For Perovic himself, it was yet another milestone. The Serbian jockey nicknamed the “Balkan Wolf” last month overtook Ikuyasu Kurakane to become the most successful foreign jockey in terms of winners in Korean racing history. Winner Star was his 350th race win in the country. He now joins Park Tae-jong, Moon Se-young and Kim Yong-geun as the only riders to have won the Korean Derby more than once.

(Pic: KRA)

As Perovic noted in his interview, Winner Star was the (joint) most experienced runner in the race and the only one to have previously won at the distance, having already raced against older horses on plenty of occasions. That’s why the Derby was only his third win on his eleventh career start. Winner Star is by Concord Point and is out of Jangguneui Huye, who did her racing in Korea and is herself by Korean bred stallion Gaeseon Janggun (by Duality). He was bred by his owner Kang Hoon-pyo and is trained by Baik Kwang-yeol, who previously won the Derby in 2015 with Yeongcheon Ace.

Winner Star’s damsire, Gaeseon Janggun, won the Minister’s Cup in 2008. Winner Star will get a chance to emulate that as the final leg of the Triple Crown is the 2022 Minister’s Cup (2000M KOR-G2) at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday June 12th.

Seungbusa & Man Of The Year End Long Training Droughts In Classic Trials

The last Triple Crown season may only just have entered the books less than three months ago but we’re already just over a month away from the 2022 renewal and on Sunday, Seungbusa and Man Of The Year staked their claims by winning the main Classic trials at Seoul and Busan.

Seungbusa & Jang Chu-youl return to scale after winning the Sports Seoul Cup (Pic: KRA)

At Seoul, the 2021 Champion Juvenile, Complete Value, unbeaten in five starts last term, including the Breeders’ Cup championship race, was favourite for the Sports Seoul Cup, the capital’s principal trial. Also lining up were Nonghyup Chairman’s Cup winner Aspen Taeyang and Nonghyup and Breeders’ Cup runner-up Double Edge, among a ten-strong field.

It would be 5/1 chance Seungbusa who got the jump on the pack though, bounding out of gate eight under jockey Jang Chu-youl and into an early lead in the 1400M Listed test and from that moment on, the rest never looked like getting to him. The margin on the line was just over a length from the fast-finishing Complete Value, who got a little far back and was then wide around the turn. Aspen Taeyang was a further half-length back in 3rd.

Complete Value, perhaps caught a bit far back early and then a little wide around the turn, finished well and while he suffered his first defeat, there was nothing about the run that suggested he won’t still be a leading contender for the first leg of the Triple Crown, the KRA Cup Mile, in April.

Seungbusa is a colt by Mischievously and out of the Flatter mare T P Mc G. Bred by Bae Eun-jeong, he is owned by Kim Gwang-myeong and trained by Jung Ho-ik. He has now won five of seven starts in total and never finished worse than 3rd.

Trainer Jung Ho-ik was winning his first Listed or Stakes race of any kind since 2009 and he was understandably delighted although the gameplan was simple: “We needed to get in front of Complete Value and make him come past us. When Complete Value was gaining in the last part of the race, I was nervous but confident in our horse. He didn’t quite manage to get a big race win as a two-year-old, but he had been training well and we will carefully prepare him for what’s next.”

For jockey Jang Chu-youl, it had also been a long time between Stakes winning drinks. “I won my first big race in 2012 (Cheoneun in the G3 Owners’ Association Trophy), when I had only been riding for two years, and I admit I really didn’t think then that it would take ten more years to get back here. I know now just how hard it is and how much work is required to get here again.”

At Busan, Rookie Stakes winner and Gimhae Mayor’s Cup runner-up Man Of Year was sent off as favourite for the south-coast track’s Classic trial, the Gyeongnam Shinmun Cup.

And Man Of The Year duly obliged, sitting handy early before asserting his authority as the field turned for home and running on to win by a full three-lengths from Captain Yankee, with Beomi Naeryeo Onda a further four-lengths away in 3rd.

Man Of The Year is a colt by Federalist and out of the Menifee mare Over Speed. He was bred by Ko Seok-hoon and is owned by Shin Yoon-gyeong and trained by Kim Byung-hak. It was his trainer’s first Listed or Stakes winner of any kind since taking out his license in 2004. 

Now a winner of two from seven, Man Of The Year was ridden by Franco Da Silva, who firmed up his status as one of Korea’s all-time leading visiting jockeys. He won the Korean Derby on Ecton Blade in 2018 and has ridden in excess of 250 winners since his 2016 debut.

The first leg of the 2022 Korean Triple Crown is the KRA Cup Mile and will be run at Busan on Sunday April 17.

Luigi Riccardi & Antonio Da Silva Win Korean Oaks With Choegang Black

Luigi Riccardi landed his biggest winner to date as a trainer in Korea as Choegang Black denied hot favourite Raon Pink to win the Korea Oaks at Busan Racecourse on Sunday afternoon.

Choegang Black was sent off as a 70/1 outsider for the filly Classic having skipped the Luna Stakes prep race and having only won up to class 5 level in Seoul. The Oaks has a habit of producing an unexpected winner though and when Raon Pink was a little awkwardly away after a start that had been delayed following the reluctance of Queens Tour to load, it was clear that the race was anyone’s.

Pureun Jangmi showed the way early with Luna runner-up Jedi for company along with Miss Indie and 2nd-favourite Doctor Fappiano. Antonio Da Silva meanwhile, kept Choegang Black just behind the leading group throughout the early and middle stages of the 1800M race.

At the top of the stretch Raon Pink, under Park Tae Jong, loomed large and one-by-one the challengers fell away. All except Choegang Black that is, who to the inside of the favourite struck the front with a furlong and a half remaining and ran on superbly to win by just over a length on the line.

Raon Pink was 2nd while Serve Ace and Alan Munro came from last to 3rd in the space of the home straight. Queens Tour was 4th and Eodigana 5th as Seoul fillies swept the top-five placings

For Luigi Riccardi, who has been licensed in Korea since the end of 2017, it was by far his biggest local win. For jockey Antonio Da Silva, it was a third Group winner in Korea following success on Dolkong in the 2019 KRA Cup Classic, and Munhak Chief in the Grand Prix the same year.

Choegang Black is by Purge and is out of Allwise (by Mr. Greeley). She was bred by Nokwon Farm and is owned by Lee Kang-woon.