Racing Reviews

Choegang Schiller Back Winning, New Citadel Continues To Rise

He was the toast of the nation back in 2015 when he overcame El Padrino to become the first locally-trained winner of the Asia Challenge Cup and on Sunday Choegang Schiller finally returned to the Seoul Racecoure winner’s circle for the first time since that glorious day.

It had been setback after setback for Choegang Schiller since his Challenge Cup win with only five starts to his name since with the best result being 2nd place in the SBS Korea/Japan Cup last June. However, he returned from his latest setback in February with a strong 2nd to Parang Juuibo, who also returned on Sunday and he was sent off as the 2nd favourite for the 1200M feature.

Favourite was Always Winner but the Segye Ilbo Cup and Owners’ Trophy winner was forced to use up too much energy getting to his preferred front position from the outside gate, leaving him with nothing left in the closing stages. That set the race up beautifully for Choegang Schiller, who had been kept handy by apprentice jockey Kim Tea Hun, and he ran on powerfully to score by over two lengths. The fast early pace also benefited Dynamic Jilju and long-shot Holiday Dream who came home 2nd and 3rd, while Brian Dean’s Jangsanjewang, partially responsible for that pace, stayed on for a gutsy 4th.

Choegang Schiller (Artie Schiller), a six-year-old gelding, moved on to 8 wins from just 19 starts. Another go at the SBS Korea/Japan Cup in early June looks the obvious next step.

This time last week, we were getting excited about the performance of King Of Ace. The Busan-based US import moved on to three wins from three starts with an easy class 3 victory over a mile on Good Friday. On Sunday at Seoul, another three-year-old US import put in a performance worthy of note.

Before the race punters fancied that import to be Cheongdam Dokki but in the event, it was New Citadel (With Distinction) who burnished his credentials with a surprisingly dominant class 2 win over 1800M. Cheongdam Dokki had beaten New Citadel when the pair were juveniles last autumn and while the latter had already won at this distance, he was carrying an additional 5.5kg this time. No matter. The pair briefly came together at the top of the straight but from then on, New Citadel was far too good, romping away to win by six-lengths.

The next time we see New Citadel will be at class 1 as his rating was bumped up 13 points as a result. Should connections be feeling ambitious, the Busan Mayor’s Cup ‘would be a sporting, if unlikely target.

One US import who did lose a bit of her luster at the weekend was Haeya. The US-bred filly won four from four up to this January before coming down lame. She returned in Busan’s Sunday feature, up to class 1 for the first time. While she showed on speed for much of the race, ultimately, she would finish 4th as Doraonpogyeongseon (Kantharos) came through late to land his 6th victory on his 12th career start.

Indian King & Darryll Holland Win First Leg Of 2017 Korean Triple Crown

If there is to be a Korean Triple Crown winner this year then his name is Indian King. The 74/1 outsider took the initiative under jockey Darryll Holland in the early part of the race and clung on to defeat Royal Ruby and American Power and claim the first Jewel in the Crown, the KRA Cup Mile at Busan on Sunday afternoon.

Punters couldn’t split Breeders’ Cup winner and runner-up Final Boss and Daeho Sidae sending them off as almost co-favourites but it was Illyu Star and longest shot on the board Taeyangui Jeonseol who were out of the gates the quickest. By the end of the straight, however, Holland had brought Indian King up alongside the leader and as they rounded the corner he kicked on in front and had stolen three lengths on the field as they straightened up.

The challenges would arrive too late. Daeho Sidae, expected to lead, offered little while Final Boss had far too much to do. Instead, while Holland coaxed his mount home, the one who would get the closest would be Royal Ruby. He had been the back-marker  for much of the race but flew home to get within half a length of the winner on the line. The Peter Wolsley trainee, who also started as an outsider, must surely be very much in the Derby mix now. American Power was just a further head back in 3rd while there was a 5-length gap back to Daeho Sidae who led home the rest.

KRA Cup Mile (KOR G2) – Busan Racecourse – 1600M – April 2 2017

1. Indian King (KOR) [Biwa Shinseiki – Indian Diamond (Indian Charlie)] – Darryll Holland – 75.0, 17.5
2. Royal Ruby (KOR) [Chapel Royal – Red Ruby (Yehudi)] – Jo Sung Gon – 4.6
3. American Power (KOR) [Ecton Park – White Angelica (Quiet American)] – 1.7
Distances: 0.5 lengths / Head
Also Ran: 4. Daeho Sidae (KOR) 5. Final Boss (KOR) 6. Ice Marine (KOR) 7. Muhan Yeoljeong (KOR) 8. Illyu Star (KOR) 9. Wonder Wall (KOR) 10. Lion Rock (KOR) 11. Taeyangui Jeonseol (KOR)

Indian King [Biwa Shinseiki – Indian Diamond (Indian Charlie)] is a half-brother to Indian Star, winner of last year’s Jeju Governor’s Cup and one of the top sprinters at the track – she came out one race later on Sunday afternoon and ran 2nd over 1200M to Triple Five in a class 1 handicap.

Indian Diamond herself was an $18,000 purchase at the Keeneland September Sale in 2002. She ran 36 times at Seoul between 2003 and 2006 winning on 3 occasions and in addition to Indian Star has had three others make the track so far, although only one of them was a winner.

For trainer Mun Je Bok, it was his biggest win to date; his first Group 2 having previously won Group 3 events with Hangangui Gijeok, Perdido Pomeroy and of course, Indian Star. 

As for Darryll Holland, it was his first Listed or Group winner in Korea. After the race, Holland noted that he isn’t able to ride as many as he would like due to a minimum riding weight of 54kg. He paid tribute to the preparation done by the trainer and thanked him for putting him on. There’ll be no trouble making weight for the Korean Derby next month.

Can Indian King get 1800M at Seoul? It makes for a fascinating Derby on the second Sunday in May.

150-Up Perovic As Shamrocker & Champ Line Win Well At Seoul & Busan

Djordje Perovic rode his 150th Korean winner at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon and not many of them will have been easier than the landmark one which arrived on Shamrocker in the 2300M Championship Series feature.

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Djordje Perovic returns to scale on Shamrocker

Possibly the biggest challenge for Perovic on Sunday would have been the 52kg weight assigned to the on the up Shamrocker but once that was made there was only likely to be one winner in the race which was run over the maximum distance used at Seoul. After a steady start, Shamrocker hit the front early in the home straight and cantered away from the field to win by six lengths on the line.

It had taken Shamrocker (Dublin), a $30,000 purchase as a 2-year-old at OBS in Florida, eight starts to get his maiden victory but yesterday’s was his fifth in total and second consecutive at class 1. He could have a big summer ahead of him.

Djordje Perovic could well have a big summer ahead of him too. Shamrocker was his 31st victory of 2017 and leaves him five clear of perennial champion Moon Se Young at the top of the standings. With Moon set to spend at least three months of this year in Singapore, Perovic is in pole position to become the first foreign jockey to claim the Seoul championship.

150 wins also ties Perovic with Joe Fujii – who spent Saturday watching Winx disappear into the distance at Rosehill – in 2nd place in the all-time foreign jockey standings in Korea.

Down at Busan a foreign jockey was on top too with Yonekura Satoshi winning Sunday’s feature – also a Championship Series race – over 2200M. It came on Thomas Gillespie’s Champ Line over what was a high class Busan field.

Success Story, as ever, set the early pace but was always likely to struggle to maintain it over the extended distance and so it proved as a host of horses swept by him in the closing stages.

It was Champ Line who did it the most convincingly, running on very strongly for victory by almost three lengths. Places 2nd-6th came home within a half-length of each other, surprisingly headed by 100/1 outsider Bathsheba Park, who was given an enterprising ride by Marios Mina.

Champ Line (Curlin) moves on to 10 wins from 19 starts and is on a four-race winning streak and heads an impressively effective string that has been put together by talented trainer Gillespie.

Eunha Chelma, Ice Marine Impressive Winners Of “Tiara” Step Races

Some markers were laid down among the 3-year-old filly ranks on Sunday as Eunha Chelma and Ice Marine respectively dominated the Sports Seoul and Gyeongnam Sinmun Cups at Seoul and Busan.

Eunha Chelma entered uneaten with two wins from two and maintained her 100% record by accelerating away from the field in the final furlong to win by three lengths from Brian Dean’s Rocket Queen.

Sports Seoul Cup (Listed) – Seoul Racecourse – 1400M – March 5, 2017

1. Eunha Chelma (KOR) [Vicar-Intouchable (Elusive Quality)] – Lee Hyeon Jong – 4.0, 1.8
2. Rocket Queen (KOR) [Vicar-Starletbound (Gone West)] – Jeong Jeong Hee – 1.2
3. Amazonas (KOR) [Officer-Happy Queen (Revere)] – Choi Bum Hyun – 2.1
Distances: 3 lengths / Nose – 10 ran

At Busan, Ice Marine was already a known quantity having been 2nd in Busan’s top juvenile race (also called the Gyeongnam Sinmun Cup) last October before having an off-day at Seoul in the Breeders’ Cup race in December. She began her 3-year-old campaign with a win over 1200M a month ago and headed into Sunday’s race as the odds-on favourite.

Ice Marine didn’t disappoint as she led every step of the way to record a very comfortable 6-length win on the line.

Gyeongnam Sinmun Cup (Listed) – Busan Racecourse – 1400M – March 5, 2017

1. Ice Marine (KOR) [Officer-Runkerry Point (Giant’s Causeway) – Song Keong Yun – 1.7, 1.2
2. Morning Baramse [Simon Pure-D’Lovely Cat (Unbridled’s Song)] – Jo In Kwen – 5.2
3. Happy Gongju [Officer-Happy Jo (Johannesburg)] – Yonekura Satoshi – 1.9
Distances: 6 lengths / 0.75 lengths – 11 ran

In other 3-year-old news at Busan, Peter Wolsley’s Royal Ruby (Chapel Royal) continued his impressive progress. He landed his third consecutive win and second at 1800M. He beat a decent class 4 line-up, winning a photo finish by a nose from Triple Nine’s little sister, the Thomas Gillespie-trained Black Sapphire.

Stakes action returns to Seoul this coming Sunday with the Seoul Owners’ Association Trophy, the first Korean Group race of 2017.

Easy For Clean Up Joy At Seoul While Success Story Gets Back Where He Belongs

Grand Prix Stakes winner Clean Up Joy went to the races for the first time in 2017 on Sunday afternoon and 6-year-old didn’t disappoint, utterly crushing a class 1 field to win a Championship Series race over 2000M. Meanwhile at Busan, Korea’s 2016 Meydan hero Success Story finally returned to the winner’s circle.

Clean Up Joy made short work of Triple Nine and Power Blade, both currently at this year’s World Cup Carnival in Dubai, when winning the Grand Prix over 2300M in December. Sunday’s field was much weaker but Clean Up Joy had shunted them all out of the handicap and was giving a minimum of 8kg weight advantage – the only time he lost at Seoul in 2016, he was giving the same weight away.

It made little difference as, with Djordje Perovic on board for the first time, Clean Up Joy made short work of his opponents, sprinting away in the straight to win by an eased down five lengths. Clean Up Joy is now Korea’s leading contender for the Korea Cup race in September.

Down at Busan, Success Story finally returned to where he belongs for the first time since late 2015. 

Success Story stunned Korean racing watchers by landing two 3rd place finishes at the Dubai World Cup Carnival last year (famously behind – a long way behind – California Chrome on the second occasion) and paved the way for five Korean horses to participate at Meydan this time around. Since returning to Korea he has raced in some of the biggest races, generally coming close but not breaking through.

Finally on Sunday he found himself at an ideal distance – 1800M – in a race where he would get an easy lead and where the main danger (Ms. Margaux) was a closer carrying more weight. Success Story duly obliged, leading every step of the way and still eight lengths clear on the line.

Triple Nine and Power Blade are now preparing for Super Saturday at Meydan. They may both have bested Success Story during the past year, but were it not for his exploits, neither would likely be there this time.

Swedish Jockey Shane Karlsson Debuts With A Winner At Seoul

It was a good first day at the races in Seoul for Shane Karlsson. The Swedish jockey rode his first Korean winner, guiding Choegangja to a comfortable victory in the last race of the day for Australian trainer Brian Dean.

Karlsson, a champion apprentice in Sweden in 2009, got the day off to a good start with a 2nd place on his very first ride, Viva Galloper in race 1 but it would be at the other end of the day, under the lights in race 12 when the 25-year-old made his breakthrough.

Choegangja, an 8/1 shot, was guided to the front straight out of the gate by Karlsson and the pair never looked back as they raced away to win by half a length from another Dean trainee My Blade, who came home 2nd. Karlsson will have five more rides at Seoul on Sunday.

Also debuting in the saddle at Seoul on Saturday was Japanese rider Shinji Hatanaka. His best finish came in race 6 when he partnered Clean Up Sky to 2nd place. Hatanaka has six rides on Sunday.

Racing returns on Sunday with 11 races at Seoul from 10:40 to 18:00 and 6 at Busan from 12:35 to 17:00.

*Update: And Shane Karlsson added another on Sunday afternoon, again for Brian Dean, as he guided Jangsanjewang (Ft. Stockton) to victory in the class 1 Race 11.

Always Winner Makes All In Segye Ilbo Cup

Sunday saw the first listed race in Korea of 2017 and there was something of a shock as 20/1 chance Always Winner made all to land the valuable 1200M test.

It was a race that always looked rather open with the favourites having plenty of question marks against them and so it proved as under Lim Gi Won, Always Winner (Creek Cat) hit the front early – as he always does – and gave the rest simply too much to do, winning by a comfortable three-lengths on the line. Another 20/1 shot, Best Guy, came home 2nd with 13/1 Global Fusion completing an unlikely trifecta.

Of the favourites, Haemaru was best in 4th but it was another chastening experience for Gorgeous Dream who won eight of his first nine but is now winless in his last three. He came home in 7th, one place below recent frequent nemesis Yaho Sky Cat.

Always Winner is a five-year-old gelding and he was winning for the 6th time in 23 starts. He won the JRA Trophy race last year which encouraged connections to take him to Kranji in Singapore for the KRA Trophy the following month. That didn’t go well and not only is the Segye Ilbo by far his biggest triumph, it’s his first victory since returning to Korea,

At Busan, there was a Championship Series race over 2000M and the honours went to Dongbang Daero (Curlin), who got the best of a photo finish ahead of Tariat Tale.

Segye Ilbo Cup (Listed) – Seoul Racecourse – 1200M – Jan 22, 2017

1. Always Winner (KOR) [Creek Cat – Hallat’Eukkeup (Land Rush)] – Lim Gi Won – 20.3, 4.8
2. Best Guy (KOR) [Didyme – Madam Winette (Danehill)] – Kim Cheol Ho – 4.8
3. Global Fusion (KOR) [Menifee – Morning Red Sky (Chisos)] – Yoo Seung Wan – 3.7
Distances: 3 lengths/2 lengths – 12 ran

There is no racing at all in Korea this coming weekend as all three tracks take a break for the Lunar New Year Holiday. Racing returns on Friday February 3.