Seoul & Busan Sunday: Race-By-Race Preview (April 18)

Sunday’s racing is at Seoul (10 races from 10:45 to 18:00) and Busan (6 races from 12:05 to 17:00). Both meetings will be run behind closed doors but the Jeju Racecourse as well as OCBs at Daegu, Gwangju and Cheonan will be open for betting. Here are the previews:

Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(3) CHEON CHONG gets his chance here following a good 3rd place over 1400M where he led until close to the line. He’s got a nice draw here to get prominent early and has a winning chance. (6) DASI DUSON has been competitive in her latest two. She was a close 6th at 1300M in January before running 2nd at this distance on March 7th, leading and battling on in the straight. She will challenge for the lead and has claims. (10) ILHYANG DALMA has placed twice from three starts and beat a number of these when 3rd last time out. She hung a little in the straight but finished off well enough and improvement is possible. (7) MISS YANGHO is the only previous winner in the field having struck three starts back at this distance in a good time. She was slow away last start but ran on well and can be considered. (11) GREEN FEELSTAR did nothing wrong when 4th on debut at the distance and is another with potential to improve.

Selections(3) Cheon Chong (6) Dasi Duson (10) Ilhyang Dalma (7) Miss Yangho
Next Best11, 4
Fast Start2, 6, 10, 11

Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

Fillies and mares only here. (5) THE QUEEN JUSTICE ran a super race last start over this distance. She overcame the widest gate to run on speed the whole way around and only to go down narrowly into 2nd place. She gets a much better draw this time and should have the run of the race. (1) NOKRICHONG is the only previous winner in the field. That came last start when she was shuffled back in the field early but rallied to run home strongly. From barrier 1 she can sit handy and finish strongly again. (10) EUNHYE PADO’s latest effort was better than it appears on paper as she was slowly away and then hampered which resulted in her being back and wide before running on fairly. She has placed at this distance and shouldn’t be overlooked. (14) REMEMBER WHEN has run some useful enough times for this class at 1200M. Given the draw she may need some luck but could sneak a place. (12) DELPHINI was much improved second-up making up good ground and the additional half furlong may suit.

Selections(5) The Queen Justice (1) Nokrichong (10) Eunhye Pado (12) Delphini
Next Best14, 13
Fast Start1, 5, 10, 13

Seoul Race 3: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(2) ALPHA DOK looks ready to win. He was a distant 3rd two starts back when hampered at the start before colliding with the running rail before running on creditably Last time he worked forwards to lead easily from a wide gate ultimately accounting for all but a good w inner, Raon Beat. Great draw here and he’s warm favourite. (14) DREAM FASHION has been on the improve of late and ran on late from a wide positon for a good 2nd place last start. The draw doesn’t do him any favours but it’s not as if he is a good starter anyway and he can run on. (10) QUEENS TOUR got buffeted all over the place early on last start before regaining her composure to run a strong 2nd. That was just her second start and she showed good maturity in adversity which she can build on here. (8) AMAZING QUEEN and (11) GEUMSEONG CHARMING the others who have hinted at ability.

Selections(2) Alpha Dok (10) Queens Tour (14) Dream Fashion (8) Amazing Queen
Next Best11, 5
Fast Start2, 8, 9, 11

Busan Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

Fillies only here and while it is a bit risky to read too much into trials, (12) PUREUN JANGMI certainly looked the part in hers when 2nd in a fast time back in March having led for much of the heat. From the track’s top stable and with Perovic aboard, she probably starts favourite. Of those with experience, (6) MASTER QUEEN is the best. She led for most of the way around last start before being collared by a good winner at the distance. She is well drawn to lead again and will be there or thereabouts at the business end. So too should (8) PARTY INDY. Her best finish so far was last time over 1000M but she can get on pace here and stick to task. (9) GEUMA STARLET was promising enough on debut to warrant keeping an eye on while (11) DONGBANUI SIJAK is the only previous winner in the field and not to be overlooked either.

Selections(12) Pureun Jangmi (6) Master Queen (11) Dongbanui Sijak (8) Party Indy
Next Best9, 14
Fast Start6, 8, 10, 11

Seoul Race 4: Class 6 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(3) SERVE ACE is working up towards a win and has been strong in her latest two, both over 1300M. Last time out she was ridden early to get a handy position behind the leader and then stuck to task well for 2nd. The extra distance should suit and today could be her day. Main danger is (6) GO WELL, whose last start can be disregarded as it went anything but well with him losing any chance at the start. He has some good form behind him though and has placed at 1400M. He is another whose style should suit the two-turns. (8) LONDON HEAT is one of just three who have raced at this distance already. That was two starts back when he overcame a wide trip to briefly strike the front in the home straight before being headed. Place chances here. (12) HAWKUI YEONGGWANG also has place chances. He was a close 3rd last time out on a wet track over 1300M. (7) ISTHMUS has run on pleasingly enough in both previous outings and is another who may appreciate more distance.

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Seoul & Busan Saturday: Race-By-Race Preview (April 17)

For racing to continue at its current level of two days a week, we need the social distancing levels to remain at “1.5” in at least Jeju Island, Daegu and Gwangju (and ideally Cheonan). They are currently at level “2.0” in Seoul and Busan but with no vaccine progress and the virus cases predicted by both local media and government to rise significantly next week, it is possible that in the capital at least there will be further restrictions. This weekend and next weekend should be ok though. Saturday sees 8 races at Seoul from 11:00 to 18:00 and 6 races at Busan from 11:30 to 16:50. Here are the previews:

There has been some fine spring weather recently

Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

Maiden fillies get things underway for the weekend. (4) GOLDEN CHANCE will probably be favourite off the back of a 4th and a 2nd in two starts so far. She came close to making all in the latter of those, which was at this distance, and is nicely drawn to get to the front early again. (5) LONDON POWER ran well for 3rd on debut over 1000M at the end of February. She was well back behind a good winner but should have come on for the run and can be a danger. (1) DANCING WITH YOU showed promise in her first two outings and while she put in a poor effort in her third, she has subsequently trialed up well and should be a factor. (13) MACH JIJON is another who can have a line drawn through her latest effort. She has the fastest time of any of these for the distance and can go better today. (14) CHOEGANG QUEEN is the solitary debut maker. She didn’t catch the eye in trials but all the others from her dam have been winners and she is worth keeping an eye on.

Selections(5) London Power (4) Golden Chance (13) Mach Jijon (1) Dancing With you
Next Best10, 13
Fast Start1, 10, 11, 13

Busan Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

Just one previous winner in the field and that status is enough to ensure that (8) ACE SOLOMON is well-backed here. Always prominent he ran on to win very comfortably over this distance on March 6th. He carries only slightly more weight today and should be on pace once more with every chance of a repeat. (13) MUJEOK BULPAE registered a pleasing enough 2nd on debut over 1000M on February 27th. He had previously shown good speed in a trial and should have come on for that run to be a big danger here. (5) SEONGSIL SONYEO came from off the pace to run 2nd at this distance a month ago and can aim for the places again. There are three first time starters and a couple of them look to have claims first-up. Both (11) BURNING GUN and (14) CONSTANTINE ran 2nd in their respective trials and while the draw does neither of them any favours, both should acquit themselves well.

Selections(8) Ace Solomon (13) Mujeok Bulpae (5) Seongsil Sonyeo (14) Constantine
Next Best11, 9
Fast Start1, 4, 5, 8

Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

A maiden that is somewhat on the weak side. The only one of them to have even finished in the top three before is (11) CHAMILHO and that’s enough to make her favourite. Forget her latest effort when the 1400M didn’t suit, she’s back at 1200M today and shouldn’t be bothered by the wide draw. We’re going to side with the solitary debut-maker though. (14) SMART OFFICER came from the middle of the pack to win a trial at the end of March. While she has the worst of the draw, she couldn’t have asked for a softer race to debut in and she won’t need to improve much off that trial to win. (6) DOUBLE TAKE did nothing on debut but previously clocked a good time in a trial so is worth another chance here while (8) AURORA ROAD and (10) VESPER are others who can improve on inauspicious starts.

Selections(14) Smart Officer (11) Chamilho (10) Vesper (6) Double Take
Next Best8, 9
Fast Start1, 4, 11, 13

Busan Race 2: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

Competitive race here. (8) THE WIN beat a couple of these when 3rd in a promising enough debut on March 27th. True, he was some way back behind a good winner but ran on pleasingly and the additional furlong could be to his benefit today. (13) JAMAICA POWER was 4th in that race on what was his debut too. He perhaps has a bit more to find but the jockey booking is eye-catching. The main threat though is (10) MIDNIGHT QUEEN. While she was only 7th last time out, she finished ahead of a couple of these in a good time in what was a much stiffer test. She has every chance here. (12) JEMA FORTUNE actually beat Midnight Queen two starts back and for that fact alone, has to come into the equation today. (3) JANGSAN PRIDE and (9) OX BOY are others in at least the placing hunt.

Selections(8) The Win (10) Midnight Queen (9) Ox Boy (3) Jangsan Pride
Next Best12, 13
Fast Start4, 10, 11, 12

Seoul Race 3: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

It’s time that (7) GLOBAL YEONGUNG won a race. The Take Charge Indy colt comes in off the back of near-misses in each of his latest three outings at 1200M and 1400M. He can sit handy here from a good draw and should be too strong in the latter stages. If he does come up short again then another Take Charge Indy, (9) NONSTOP GISANG, may take advantage. He too has started to figure things out in his latest two and can continue his development here. (5) JOEUN SAI ran a useful time when 4th at this distance last start and warrants attention as place hope while (3) ONE JI too come sin off his best finish to date last start and can maintain some momentum here. The wildcard is (2) WONDERFUL K. He ran 2nd and 5th in his first two starts before parting company with his jockey leaving the gate on what was to be his third attempt last month, completing the course himself. He has drawn well here and does seem to have ability.

Selections(7) Global Yeongung (2) Wonderful K (9) Nonstop Gisang (3) One Ji
Next Best5, 1
Fast Start3, 4, 5, 12

Busan Race 3: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 28 Million

(12) RAON THE POWER won his first two in fine style before running 2nd to Top Of Korea on his first try at this class on March 20th. He has drawn wide here but so too have his main rivals – and he is favoured to get back to winning ways today. (11) ACE DAY is half-brother to the excellent Today. He won on debut at this distance and comes in after a strong 2nd place over 1400M to Baby Line when he had to overcome the widest draw to get to the lead. He should be the primary danger. (13) WONDERFUL KING remains a maiden after seven attempts but he has four to-three finishes and beat no fewer than four of his rivals here on his way to 2nd place at class and distance last start. He looks good for at least another place finish today. (5) FINAL PARTY and (4) CHOEGANG CUPID are others in the minor money hunt.

Selections(12) Raon The Power (11) Ace Day (13) Wonderful King (4) Choegang Cupid
Next Best5, 3
Fast Start4, 5, 6, 12

Seoul Race 4: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(3) BEOLMAL DAEJANG is the one to beat here. He’s got progressively closer across his three starts to date, culminating in a runner-up finish last start over 1300M. He ran on strong with an extra half-furlong to play with today, can make his breakthrough. (1) SAEMYEONG HAETSAL and (5) WONDERFUL JOY have already found their way into the winner’s circle, both of them in their respective latest starts. The latter’s came at this distance and both can go close again today. (10) CUPID KOREA comes in off a career-best 2nd place last start. He should be on pace here and has claims on a place again. (4) LAST BOSS ran 4th last tine at this distance and comes down 3.5kg in the weights today with an apprentice on board, which should put him into at least the minor money reckoning.

Selections(3) Beolmal Daejang (1) Saemyeong Haetsal (5) Wonderful Joy (4) Last Boss
Next Best10, 9
Fast Start1, 6, 10, 14

Busan Race 4: Class 4 (1600M) Allowance / KRW 35 Million

Two winning streaks are on the line here. (7) MACH TITAN will be the favourite to keep his intact. He has made all the running in his last three starts, winning all of them well, most recently at class and distance. He gets the better of the draw here and could well lead all the way again. (11) GODDESS MOON has won four in a row. She steps up to the mile for the first time but she is a two-time winner at 1400M, both times leading all the way. She has a 4kg weight advantage over her rival here and can make it count but she will be up against it in terms of their respective draws. As good as the favourites are, it’s not a two-horse race. (1) COPY THAT has only been outside the top-two on one occasion in eight starts so far. He’s won at this level over 1400M and while he started slowly from a wide draw last time out, still rallied for 2nd. He’ll go close again. (2) LEGACY beat plenty of these when 3rd behind the very good pair of Choegang Ssonsal and Jera a month ago and has minor money claims again. (10) TOP FIRE has a fast time at this distance to his name and can’t be ruled out either.

Selections(7) Mach Titan (11) Goddess Moon (2) Legacy (1) Copy That
Next Best10, 5
Fast Start1, 7, 11, 12

Seoul Race 5: Class 5 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 28 Million

(11) YAHO GOLDEN CAT enters off a good 2nd place on March 14th at class and distance. That continued a run of consistent form and he looks well-positioned here to return to the winner’s circle, likely looking to lead. Another very consistent type is (3) MYEONGJIN DAY. He is yet to finish any worse than 4th in four attempts and steps back in trip after a solid 4th place over 1700M just two weeks ago. That was a good race and he also has a swift 2nd at this distance to his name. (4) ALCHAN NURI was 7th behind Yaho Golden Cat last start but the time before ran 3rd at class and distance in a good time. He can be considered a place chance here. (5) WANY K and (9) GOLDILOCKS are among several others in the hunt for the minor money in what looks a competitive affair.

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Jeju Friday Selections (April 16)

With COVID-19 cases in Korea remaining stubbornly high and, according to local media, a further rise in the offing, there is no sign on restrictions being loosened any time soon. Fortunately, neither have they been tightened so we have another weekend of racing at Jeju on Friday with Seoul and Busan both running on Saturday and Sunday. The only places which will be open to customers on the three days are the Jeju Racecourse plus the OTBs in Daegu, Gwangju and Cheonan. Here are Jeju selections for Friday:

Race 1: 4, 3, 5, 1

Race 2: 4, 6, 2, 1

Race 3: 2, 5, 8, 9

Race 4: 9, 6, 8, 3

Race 5: 2, 5, 3, 6

Race 6: 9, 4, 7, 10

Race 7: 12, 7, 5, 10

Race 8: 5, 10, 12, 4

Race 9: 2, 10, 7, 3

Race 10: 12, 2, 4, 6

Race 11: 2, 7, 5, 10

Race 12: 2, 1, 10, 3

Johan Victoire Reaches 150 Korean Wins

Johan Victoire reached the landmark of 150 winners in Korea last weekend and the popular French rider now has his sights set on continuing his success and doing his part to contribute to the post-COVID recovery of racing in the country he has come to consider his adopted home.

The breakthrough came in race 3 on Saturday on three-year-old colt Namsan Sidae, who got the best of a competitive finish by a head for owner Lee Ki-sun and trainer Park Byung-il to register his maiden victory.

“I’m very delighted” said Victoire after the race. “I just thought that I would have done it earlier but for (the shutdowns caused by) COVID. But I did it and I’m happy to do it with Namsan Sidae who looks like he can have a bright future.”

Johan Victoire debuted in Korea in 2017 and was an instant success, winning on his very first ride. There have been highs and lows since then with Group race victories in the Busan Owners’ Cup in 2019 and in SBS Sports Sprint and Busan Mayor’s Cup in 2020 interspersed with a serious fall that sidelined him for several months in the latter part of 2019.

When asked to choose his favourite winner so far, Victoire was ever the diplomat. “I can’t say which is my favourite between Dolkong, Morfhis and Tiz Plan” he said of his three Group winners. “The three of them are marvelous horses!”

As online betting remains illegal in Korea, the COVID crisis has ravaged the industry and with prize money greatly reduced, no Stakes races are currently schedule. Victoire acknowledged that it is a challenging time. “Unfortunately, things are really not easy for everyone during this pandemic. I really want to thank the KRA for doing their best for the racing industry here in Korea. I hope it will get better and back to normal soon.”

Victoire has long been a positive ambassador for racing inside of Korea. In 2019, he accompanied a CNN crew around Seoul for the network’s “Winning Post” program and then in 2020 appeared with his family as well as his friend and fellow French jockey David Breux on one of Korea’s most popular entertainment shows, showcasing their lives as jockeys. That appearance was well received to the extent that it brought the thirty-four-year-old offers of an advertising deal with a major consumer electronics brand.

There are currently five international jockeys at Seoul, and it is a strong line-up. Aside from Victoire and David Breux, they are Ueda Masashi from Japan, Britain’s Alan Munro and Brazil’s Antonio Da Silva. The latter has 221 Korean wins, putting him 3rd in the all-time list for overseas jockeys in Korea behind only Ikuyasu Kurakane and Djordje Perovic. Perovic is currently riding at Busan where he has Kurakane’s record of 347 wins in his sights. Also plying their trade at the south-coast track are Franco Da Silva, who has 212 victories, including a Korean Derby and Ioannis Poullis, who won the President’s Cup on New Legend in 2019.

Most observers acknowledge the importance of having such talent around to enable the top local jockeys to test themselves on a weekly basis. Likewise for punters, their presence adds a certain amount of quality-assurance and Victoire wants to be in it for the long haul:

“My goals here are to stay as long as possible in this country that my family and I love. I want to continue being successful and I’m looking forward to making my 200th winner in Korea.”

Seoul & Busan Sunday: Race-By-Race Preview (April 11)

Sunday’s racing is behind closed doors at Seoul (10 races from 10:45 to 18:00) and Busan (6 races from 12:05 to 17:00). Betting outlets on Jeju Island as well as in Daegu and Gwangju will be open but all others are closed. Here are the previews:

Gaon Champ probably won’t be winning, but he will be running in Seoul’s Sunday feature

Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(4) RUNNING KING may start as favourite here. He took a bump early last start on February 28th before racing keenly behind the leaders to be still running on strongly at the line. The previous time out he led for a strong 2nd and will be in the finish here. (3) NEW HOPE was 3rd in that February 28th race, marking a significant uptick in form and she can maintain that momentum today. The main danger though is set to be (1) DAECHEON EOLJJANG. He has run some good times over this distance and drops back after a decent showing over the 1300M last time. He has a nice draw on the inside which Johan Victoire can use to put him right in the mix here. (11) RAON GARAM has shown decent speed in both her races so far. That suggests the draw won’t be too much of a problem and she can be a factor. (8) ILGYEOK PILSAL was well back behind New Hope and Running King last start but we will disregard that and look back to his 2nd place on debut. Consider him for the exotics.

Selections(1) Daecheon Eoljang (4) Running King (3) New Hope (11) Raon Garam
Next Best8, 9
Fast Start4, 6, 7, 12

Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(12) K N LIGHT is the favourite and the pick here after his win at the distance back on January 15th. He stepped up to 1300M on his return and worked hard to be on the lead from the widest gate but just seemed to tire in the closing stages, ending up in 4th. Despite another wide draw, back at 1200M he is the one to beat. (1) MAD BLADE ran 2nd to K N Light in January before weakening late over 1400M on his return to action a month ago. Just as with the favourite, being back to 1200M is in his favour. (5) HAECHAN continues the pattern of those dropping back in trip and into contention. Although some time ago now, there was plenty of merit in his last crack at this distance and he should be competitive here. (9) STAR RUSH is yet to place but has shown ability. He was wide early last time before battling on well and could sneak some money today.

Selections(12) K N Light (5) Haechan (1) Mad Blade (9) Star Rush
Next Best3, 10
Fast Start2, 3, 5, 8

Seoul Race 3: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

Fillies only here. (12) GOLDEN BADGE is the pick here after a good 2nd at this trip in a nice time four weeks ago. She’s been reasonably consistent across here seven starts to date and this looks to be the race she’s been waiting for to pick up a win. (6) ROAD ROSE can have a line drawn through her latest effort when wide from an unhelpful draw. Her previous class and distance form is good and she should be on pace today with claims to go close. (1) JILPUNG BAEKGWANG was very wide last start but still battled on for a midfield finish. Moon Se Young climbs aboard today and she can improve. (9) CHEONGDAM TANK and (10) HAPPY MONTH are others in the minor money frame.

Selections(12) Golden Badge (6) Road Rose (1) Jilpung Baekgwang (9) Cheongdam Tank
Next Best10, 13
Fast Start3, 6, 8, 11

Busan Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(3) SPEED MATCH looks ready to win here. While his previous two goes around this trip weren’t ideal, he was a good 2nd back at 1000M last start, running on well and looks ready for another crack. He faces modest opposition here and can come out on top. (8) ADELE CROWN was exactly fast when 4th on debut a month ago but hinted at enough ability to suggest progression is on the cards and he can get close here. (2) SIMON TOP GUN has shown progress across four starts so far and is another who should be aiming to get in the places for the first time today. (11) JANGSAN MANGCHI has failed to build on an encouraging debut but still has the fastest time among any of these who have tackled the distance before.

Selections(3) Speed Match (11) Jangsan Mangchi (8) Adele Crown (2) Simon Top Gun
Next Best4, 7
Fast Start1, 3, 4, 9

Seoul Race 4: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 28 Million

Fillies (and two mares) here. (4) RAON PINK was a class 6 winner on debut and has followed up with two solid performances at this class, running on from midfield both times. She can settle handy here and run on strong. (7) DAUL QUEEN is the one set to challenge her for favourite status. She too was winner on debut and was a fair 2nd on her first try at this class. She never really looked like winning that day but should be in the finish today. (11) CHEONGDAM WICKED continues to enter the calculations based on the sub-one-minute five-furlongs she achieved back last November. She’s not pulled up trees since but hasn’t been too far away. (10) CAREER HIGH is worth some thought. She didn’t settle especially well last time out but the run had merit. (12) LUCKY SMILE is another in the placing frame.

Selections(4) Raon Pink (7) Daul Queen (10) Career High (11) Cheongdam Wicked
Next Best12, 13
Fast Start8, 9, 10, 11

Busan Race 2: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(7) MENI GLORY has just come up short in both his starts to date, finishing runner-up at 1000M and 1400M. He was a beaten favourite last start but is drawn nicely enough to get the early advantage here and will be a short-price to make it third time lucky. This isn’t an easy race though. (13) AFLEET TAPIT improved last time out at start number two and while it was a slow race, he looks set to be competitive. (14) WONDER RUNNER has been consistent across four outings so far. The wide draw shouldn’t be an issue and he surely finds the places again. (6) STAR OF KING has been knocking on the door of the minor money in recent outings and could sneak a prize here. There is one solitary debut-maker but it is a notable one. (2) WILD INDIE is out of Wild Dixie Gal, dam of multiple Korean Stakes winners Beolmaui Kkum and Kkakjaengi and who also produced Dixie Again, winner of six from nine so far. By President’s Cup and Grand Prix winner Indie Band, Wild Indie trialed up nicely in March (after an unconvincing qualification a month earlier) and he will be backed.  

Selections(7) Meni Glory (14) Wonder Runner (2) Wild Indie (13) Afleet Tapit
Next Best6, 9
Fast Start1, 4, 7, 8
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Seoul & Busan Saturday: Race-By-Race Preview (April 10)

Current social-distancing levels have been maintained so betting outlets on Jeju Island and in the cities of Daegu and Gwangju can remain open this weekend. They will be betting on the behind-closed-doors meetings that will take place on both days at Seoul and Busan. On Saturday there are 8 races at Seoul from 11:00 to 18:00 and 6 at Busan from 11:30 to 16:50. Here are the previews:

Empty stands again at Seoul.

Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

Fillies only to get things started. There is one previous winner in the field in the shape of (8) LOVE ARCH. Her win came on debut over 1000M in February and while it was in a slow time, she went from almost last to first in the final furlong. The additional trip should suit and a repeat isn’t impossible. (1) LEGEND STAR has run 3rd in both her starts so far at 1000M and at this distance. Drawn nicely on the inside she should be handy and run on strong here with solid claims. She will be favourite. (5) GABO SARANGHAE has been knocking at the door of the places. She’s finished in the top five on six of seven starts and should be aiming to place here. (9) ELITE POWER has by some margin the fastest time of any of these at the distance and while her latest two efforts have been indifferent, she should be given a chance here.

Selections(8) Love Arch (1) Legend Star (5) Gabo Saranghae (9) Elite Power
Next Best10, 3
Fast Start2, 3, 4, 12

Busan Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

There is one previous winner in the field. That’s (3) EAST BELLE who was successful at this trip two starts back. She weakened a little for 6th when stepped up to 1400M on her return in February but back down to her winning distance should be much closer today. (1) SECOND WIND returned from six months out to run 3rd over this distance at the end of February, swooping home late from off the pace. She should have come on for the run and can be a danger here. (2) CHOEGANG ILSE and (13) WIND HARPOON both look to have potential to improve and have at least placing claims. The one they all need to beat though is one of the six first-time starters. (5) SUCCESS MACHO is a three-year-old gelding by Macho Uno, who was imported in-utero. He looked extremely competent when holding his own in a fast trial with experienced horses and enters here as favourite. From a good draw with a top jockey on, he can lead gate to wire.

Selections(5) Success Macho (3) East Belle (1) Second Wind (2) Choegang Ilse
Next Best13, 14
Fast Start5, 7, 8, 13

Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(13) DONGJIN CHOEGANG was a front-running winner over this distance on debut on March 7th, scoring by almost three-lengths. Despite today’s wide draw, she should be able to make her way to the front again and should have too much. (5) GEUMA MAJESTY ran 3rd in that same race, continuing an uptick in form that began with a 4th place in January. He can build on that momentum today from a better draw than last time and could run the favourite close. Jockey Ueda Masashi picked up a welcome winner last weekend and he has a decent shout here with (1) P.K. ROAD. The Upstart filly has been knocking on the door in each of her three outings to date and looks nicely in with placing claims here. (2) KOREA GIJEOK and (7) IMUGI are others with potential to improve.

Selections(13) Dongjin Choegang (5) Geuma Majesty (1) P.K. Road (2) Korea Gijeok
Next Best7, 9
Fast Start6, 8, 10, 13

Busan Race 2: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

Just fillies (and one mare) here and it’s a tricky puzzle to solve. (2) DREAM DANCER and (9) HORAENGI look set to dispute favourite status as both enter with consistent recent form. Horaengi beat a couple of these on his way to 3rd place last time out and also has a 3rd at this distance to his name. Dream Dancer meanwhile steps up in trip after running on doggedly for 3rd over 1200M last time out. “Dogged” should be enough to see both close here. (6) FASHION BLADE was promising enough on debut when 5th behind Horaengi at 1200M. She made good ground from a long way back and will be expected to improve today. We’ll take a chance though on another one racing for just the second time, (13) WONDERFUL LADY. She was 5th over 1000M on debut but the step up in trip may suit and the jockey booking catches the eye.

Selections(13) Wonderful Lady (9) Horaengi (2) Dream Dancer (6) Fashion Blade
Next Best14, 11
Fast Start2, 3, 9, 13

Seoul Race 3: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(1) NAMSAN SIDAE looks set to be a warm favourite here. The Cowboy Cal colt is out of a Korean Oaks winner and has a 3rd and a 2nd from his two starts so far, running on strong on both occasions. The slight step up in trip should suit and he is the one to beat here. Emerging from the opposite end of the fate will be (13) EOSEOWA. He comes in off back to back 3rd place finishes, the latter of which was at this distance and if Ham Wa-sik can find a handy position, he can be a threat again. (10) JEONGMUN POKJU was a somewhat unexpected winner at 1400M on March 7th. He needs to be given more respect today and while a repeat is unlikely, he looks a placing line. (4) TEUKGEUP YEOWANG and (12) SINDAERO are others who can be competitive.

Selections(1) Namsan Sidae (13) Eoseowa (10) Jeongmun Pokju (4) Teukgeup Yeowang
Next Best12, 7
Fast Start7, 8, 10, 13

Busan Race 3: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

Fillies and a couple of mares only here. (1) MINYEOBONG has only once finished out of the top five and looks ready to score again here. She got her solitary win three starts back over this distance and followed up with a 2nd and a 3rd in solid, if unspectacular times. From the inside gate, she is likely to be sitting just behind the leaders and should prove too strong at the business end of the race. (14) TOP OF THE GIRL produced an uptick in form to run 2nd in a similar class and distance race in March 6th. She warrants respect here although the likes of (2) ACEUI GIPPEUM and (13) TOP LUCKY, who finished behind her that day, both look capable of overturning that form. (5) ANGEL WIND, who has been beaten by Minyeobong in both her two most recent starts, is another with placing chances.

Selections(1) Minyeobong (13) Top Lucky (5) Angel Wind (2) Aceui Gippeum
Next Best14, 6
Fast Start5, 7, 11, 12

Seoul Race 4: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 28 Million

The first division of this class 5 handicap sees (1) BLACK SILVER as a likely warm favourite. Her one win so far came at this distance in a fast time and she has a close at hand 3rd and 2nd in two starts since. From the inside gate, she is likely to be on pace from the start and should win. (6) GREAT KHAN and (7) GRAND CASTLE come in with almost identical form to one another. Both are also likely to be competing for the early speed and should be involved in the finish. (2) AROMA dropped off a cliff in the closing stages over 1300M last start but should be better back in trip today. (3) M J BEST has been a touch inconsistent across his three starts so far but has a bit of speed about him and looks a placing line here.

Selections(1) Black Silver (7) Grand Castle (6) Great Khan (2) Aroma
Next Best3, 9
Fast Start1, 2, 5, 6

Busan Race 4: Class 5 (1600M) Handicap / KRW 28 Million

(9) PINEUI KKUM is set to be hot favourite for this one. He was a bit of a late developer, not getting his maiden win until start number ten but he has been in fine form since. He comes in having recorded the fastest time of any of these over a mile when 3rd with a couple of his rivals here behind him, on March 13th. He likes to come from off the pace and should be too strong today. (8) GEUMA GOOD POINT got his maiden win at this distance last start. He is accordingly up in class today but on the strength of that showing should be competitive here. (10) SKY WIN was on pace at class and distance last time out and while he only managed 4th, looks set to be on pace again and has placing claims. (1) MAGIC HORSE and (4) TRIPLE MAGIC are other sin the hunt for some minor money.

Selections(9) Pineui Kkum (8) Geuma Good Point (10) Sky Win (1) Magic Horse
Next Best4, 6
Fast Start4, 7, 8, 10
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Jeju Friday Selections (April 9)

With Korea gradually losing control of the Covid situation, as case numbers rise and the glacial vaccination roll-out doesn’t, it is possible that racing will face more restrictions as soon as next week. Fingers crossed there won’t be and in any case, this weekend is set to be unaffected with betting still able to take place on Jeju Island and, at the time of writing at least, in Daegu and Gwangju. There will be pony racing on Friday while Seoul and Busan will both hold thoroughbred cards behind closed doors on Saturday and Sunday.

Here are the selections for the Friday pony racing card on Jeju (where only 5 Covid cases were reported int he last 24 hours):

Race 1: 5, 1, 9, 6

Race 2: 3, 4, 1, 8

Race 3: 2, 1, 5, 7

Race 4: 8, 9, 6, 5

Race 5: 9, 10, 5, 6

Race 6: 6, 10, 7, 8

Race 7: 4, 7, 3, 10

Race 8: 6, 11, 4, 1

Race 9: 8, 5, 1, 3

Race 10: 1, 5, 12, 6

Race 11: 8, 5, 3, 1

Race 12: 4, 8, 1, 9

In other news, Dolkong trialed up at Seoul last weekend for the second time since returning from injury. Under Antonio Da Silva he cruised around for an unhurried 4th place in his heat:

Blue Chipper Back On Top At Busan

Blue Chipper returned to the winner’s circle at long last at Busan Racecourse on Sunday afternoon as Korea’s 2019 Breeders’ Cup hero registered an effortless class 1 win over seven-furlongs.

With the Covid-induced financial crisis still biting, Sunday’s Busan feature was contested for a 1st prize of just KRW 24 Million (US$21,400). Nevertheless, in addition to Blue Chipper the race also attracted the likes of Ssonsal, the up-and-coming sprinter who came in off the back of four consecutive wins, as well as multiple winner King Of Glory and Dubai World Cup Carnival alumnus Today among a full field of fourteen.

None stood a chance as under jockey Djordje Perovic and coming out of gate five, Blue Chipper quickly assumed command of the race, before motoring away from the field in the home straight. Ssonsal, who had to overcome the widest draw, got closest, finishing three-lengths in arrears.

It’s been a long way back for Blue Chipper, who last tasted victory in the Korea Sprint (KOR G1) at Seoul Racecourse in September of 2019. Knowing that he held a Breeders’ Cup nomination, connections then opted to take a chance on him in the Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup First Mile at Santa Anita where, under an enterprising Flavien Prat ride, Blue Chipper finished 3rd behind Spun To Run and Omaha Beach.

Blue Chipper was then pointed at the Dubai World Cup Carnival and a tilt at the Goldolphin Mile. Disaster struck, however, when on arrival he was found to have travel sickness, the complications of which ruled him out of competing at Meydan.  By the time he was passed fit to fly, he returned to a Korea where racing, with no legal remote betting, was amid the still ongoing Covid crisis.

Having returned to training in December – and moved to trainer Min Jang-ki’s stable – Blue Chipper was given a low-key return to racing in February in a race which had no legal betting markets either at home or overseas. Going over a mile he showed at the front early but visibly tired in the final furlong ultimately ending up in 5th. He came out of that race in good order though and the improvement was there for all to see on Sunday.  

Where to next is the million-dollar (hopefully not the 24 Million Won) question for Blue Chipper. Now six-years-old, the Tiznow gelding seems unlikely to travel again given the risks involved and with no confirmed Stakes schedule for Korea as the pandemic continues to squeeze prizemoney, it may be some time before he even gest to face the likes of Seoul-based rising-star Eoma Eoma in Korea.

Other News

Jockey Kim Hye-sun rode her first winner back since returning from maternity leave just a week ago. The thirty-two-year-old, who is married to fellow jockey Park Jae-I, partnered Haeundae Bada to victory in race 1 at Busan on Sunday.  It was career victory number 284 for Kim, who is the most successful female thoroughbred jockey in Korean history. She rode Jejui Haneul to victory in the Korean Oaks in 2017.

In the three-year-old ranks, Winner’s Man returned to winning ways at Busan on Saturday. The Musket Man colt was beaten by the very good Golden Winner on his first try around the Korean Derby distance of 1800M last month and while he suffered another scare this time around, he had enough about him to hold off long-shot Man Of Top by a head at class 3 level for his first success around two turns. Winner’s Man now has a record of five wins and two runner-up finishes from seven starts.

Sunday Seoul & Busan: Race-By-Race Preview (April 4)

Blue Chipper was 5th on his return to racing after more than a year out. The 2019 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile 3rd place-getter is in action again at Busan on Sunday tackling 1400M in the feature race on the south coast. There are 6 races at Busan from 12:05 to 17:00 and 10 at Seoul from 10:45 to 18:00. Both meetings will be held behind closed doors. Here are the previews:

Blue Chipper goes at Busan on Sunday (Pic: KRA)

Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(9) MORNING HILL was an impressive winner first up on February 28th making all in a fast time. He stretches out to 1200M today but if he has come on at all from that performance, he will take some beating here. The main danger is set to be a first-time starter. (4) YES I CAN trialed well, running on strong for 2nd place in his heat in a competitive time. The 1200M should suit and he can go well. (11) BORAQUEEN has fair form over her three outings to date. She led last time before battling on for 5th and is likely to improve off that run. (10) MODERN GOLD drifted well back in the field on his first start but got himself together to come home quite well and could sneak into a place. (2) YEONGWANUI HAENGJIN hasn’t pulled up many trees in two starts so far but previously showed some speed in a trial and the engagement of a top jockey today suggests improvement is expected.

Selections(9) Morning Hill (4) Yes I Can (11) Boraqueen (10) Modern Gold
Next Best2, 1
Fast Start1, 2, 9, 11

Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

There’s not a whole lot of exposed form here so (7) TEUKGWON might be the one to go for. He’s only raced twice and was a good 4th on debut before being on pace on his first attempt at 1200M back in January and battling on for 5th. He’s had a couple of months off since and should be right in the thick of things today. (3) SINUI ADEUL was in a handy position on his latest start before being hampered and losing ground. Disregard that and instead go on his two 4th places prior to that and he comes into contention. Also in contention is (4) THUNDER K. He has hinted at some ability and races for the first time since November having trialed well. The apprentice claim and the good draw put him in the calculations. (8) ROSEDAY MARINE is also in the hunt as is solitary debut-maker (9) BEOWULF.

Selections(7) Teukgwon (3) Sinui Adeul (4) Thunder K (8) Roseday Marine
Next Best9, 6
Fast Start3, 4, 6, 8

Seoul Race 3: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

Fillies only here and there are two previous winners among them. (9) YULONG STAR was a good winner two starts back at 1200M before running a good 4th last start when worked hard to get on the pace before battling on gamely. An apprentice claim takes 3kg off his back and puts him right in the mix. (8) JOYFUL K came home 5th in the same race having been quite wide before making good ground late. She won at 1200M last November and is at least worthy of a place line today. The one they both need to beat is (2) SARYEONI QUEEN. She recorded a 3rd and a 2nd in two starts last summer and while she hasn’t raced since August, she trialed adequately enough in February and has every chance first-up from a great draw to lead. (3) MISS ELITE and (7) NONGBON RAK are others in at least the placing frame.

Selections(2) Saryeoni Queen (9) Yulong Star (8) Joyful K (3) Miss Elite
Next Best7
Fast Start2, 7, 8, 9

Busan Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

Fillies get the Busan card underway and there’s going to be a warm favourite. (3) FLAT BABE came close to making all on debut over 1400M back in January, just getting overhauled in the closing stages by Looking Cat. Back in trip today but well drawn and with Perovic remaining aboard, she looks hard to beat. Draw a line through the latest effort of (4) HAEUNDAE BADA. She’s been back to trial since and her previous efforts suggest she should be aiming to place here. Similarly, (6) CHONGMA HWANGHU and (7) ENOUGH both hinted at ability on debut to the extent that we can overlook their respective latest showings and give them another chance here. There are five first-time starters and (1) MAGIC HILL and (11) AREUMDAUN GAMDONG both looked competent enough in trials.

Selections(3) Flat Babe (4) Haeundae Bada (1) Magic Hill (6) Cheonhma Hwanghu
Next Best7, 11
Fast Start1, 3, 6, 14

Seoul Race 4: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(1) ULTRA KING come sin off a good 3rd place at start number four when after showing good speed, he led a similar field for a time and fought on well. From the inside gate he should get an easier run today and is the one to beat. (3) BRAVO MAY came home in 4th place in that races continuing his record of always being there or thereabouts. That should be maintained today although once more he is likely to find one or two too quick. (4) CURRERECUS has the form to be in the finish. He beat three of these on his way to 2nd place in a good time over 1400M last start and with a good draw today, he is worth considering. (6) OFFICER COMMANDING was 5th but close to the winner last start in a good time at the distance. She also has a 2nd over 1300M and is firmly in today’s frame. (8) ROYAL YEONGGWANG the best of the rest.

Selections(1) Ultra King (4) Currerecus (3) Bravo May (6) Officer Commanding
Next Best8, 2
Fast Start1, 2, 8, 10

Busan Race 2: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(11) WILD BLUE is the one to beat here. He has two 2nd place finishes and a 4th from his three outings so far, running on strong in each. He steps up slightly in trip which should be to his benefit and if Perovic can find a handy spot for him, he should be too strong. (14) GREAT GO remains winless but has been consistent across her eight outings to date. She led for much of the way around last start before running 2nd over 1400M and while the widest gate isn’t ideal, she can overcome it to go close. (5) PICTURE JASPER ran a good 3rd on debut, running on strong over 1000M and looks poised to build on that today. (9) FIRST WIND is the only prior winner in the field and while his latest two have been a touch disappointing, he shouldn’t be overlooked. (13) KING BID another in the hunt.

Selections(11) Wild Blue (5) Picture Jasper (14) Great Go (9) First Wind
Next Best13, 12
Fast Start3, 9, 11, 13

Seoul Race 5: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 28 Million

(1) CATCH CHARM is a winner of two from two so far and is yet to see the rear of another horse at any time in her racing career. She is up in class here but she has won at this distance already and the inside barrier and Moon Se Young up again make her hard to beat. (2) STAR WARS is similarly up in class here, in his case following a win and two runner-up finishes. He comes down in the weights as well which should help his placing claims. Also with significant claims, at least on a place is (7) SEO E BEONJJEOK. He has won at this distance and was a close 2nd last start when handy but wide. She’s not been worse than 5th in her four outings and she should at least maintain that record. (4) GIVEN RUNNER and (9) SUN OF STORM are others with solid placing claims.

Selections(1) Catch Charm (2) Star Wars (7) Seo E Beonjjeok (9) Sun Of Storm
Next Best4, 13
Fast Start1, 6, 12, 14

Busan Race 3: Class 6 (1600M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(9) DUMUSAN was a last start winner, breaking through at start number five. His form prior to that had only been fair but fair is enough to go on top in this modest contest. He’s generally slow away but has a nice turn of foot and so long as he doesn’t give them too much of a head start, should have too much. (11) WONDERFUL SECRET ran 4th behind Dumusan last start, sticking to task well. He’ll try to get to the front here and should still be around at the business end of the race. (7) CHEONGDAM DRIVE has a couple of 3rd place finishes to his name and that’s enough to put him in the placing frame again today with the likes of (5) DIVINE QUEEN and (6) BABEL STAR also capable of picking up a minor cheque.

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Seoul & Busan Saturday: Race-By-Race Preview (April 3)

Although “level 2” restrictions have been tightened to prevent on-course or OCB attendance in Busan as well as the Greater Seoul area, racing presses on. Both thoroughbred tracks will race behind closed doors on both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday’s racing sees 8 races at Seoul from 11:00 to 18:00 and 6 at Busan from 11:30 to 16:50. Here are the previews:

The cherry blossoms are out at a lonely Seoul Racecourse

Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

Fillies (and one mare) to begin with and there are two last start winners among them. (9) PRINCESS SOCKS ran 4th on debut before breaking through at start number two, making all over thus distance in a fair time. It took (5) LEROY BLANC four starts to break through, something she finally achieved in January, similarly leading all the way over 1400M. She looks nicely in again. The one they both need to beat is debut-maker (6) BURUI YEOWANG is a half-sister to talented pair Raymond and Choegang Team and blitzed a trial at the beginning of March. She’s beautifully drawn to be on speed and has every chance first-up. (3) VICTORY SAM was a solid 4th on debut over 1000M at the end of February and should have come on for the run. (2) GLORY KHAN is another in the hunt and should make ground late on, especially if the favourites, who are all likely to be on-pace, over-race.

Selections(6) Burui Yeowang (9) Princess Socks (5) Leroy Blanc (3) Victory Sam
Next Best2, 12
Fast Start3, 5, 6, 9, 12

Busan Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(2) AMAZING FOOT is the first foal out of Sun Lordly, a very solid racehorse in Korea who won three of her first five races. This Hansen colt ran 3rd on debut over 1000M in February and should appreciate the extra furlong today. He has strong claims. (3) GOSUUI POWER improved at start two at the end of Janaury, running on well for 3rd behind Raon The Power. He too looks ready to try this distance again and can go close. (9) SEOBU QUEEN, half-sister and stablemate to the excellent Seobu Cat has two 3rd places among three outings to date. Her previous try at this distance didn’t go well but she should be better this time around. (1) WONDER BLADE’s solitary start was fifteen months ago. He’s been through a number of trials since, most recently a fast one two weeks ago and comes straight into contention today. There is one debut-maker. (14) POKPUNG JILJU looked sharp in two trials and while the draw is unfortunate, he should be competitive here.

Selections(2) Amazing Foot (9) Seobu Queen (3) Gosuui Power (14) Pokpung Jilju
Next Best1, 12
Fast Start2, 3, 6, 12

Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

A couple of standouts here. (2) RAON CHAMPSELY comes in off a good 2nd place when she ran on strong over 1200M. She gets an extra half-furlong to play with today and it may well suit the Musket Man filly. She’s likely to be vying for favourite status along with (7) GRAY CAT. After a bad start he was scarcely involved over 1400M last start but back in trip today and with a better start, he can be a big danger. (1) BIROE KING has the fastest time among those who have previously tackled today’s distance/ He comes in having beaten a couple of these last time out and should be in the mix again today. (6) MORNING FLASH will come from off the pace and should appreciate the slight step up in trip today while (12) SAMJEONG TAPAS is inconsistent but not without a placing chance in this company.

Selections(2) Raon Champsely (7) Gray Cat (1) Biroe King (6) Morning Flash
Next Best12, 5
Fast Start1, 7, 9, 12

Busan Race 2: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(1) THE FIRST FACTOR has been knocking on the door across three starts so far and most recently came home 3rd behind Baby Line and Ace Day in what was the fastest race ever recorded over this distance at class 6 at Busan. Of course, that was helped by the track condition but The First Factor’s time was nearly three seconds faster than anything else here has achieved at this distance and she could well come out on top today. (13) ADELE SMART has already come out on top, winning on debut on February 27th. That was over 1000M but he got stronger as the race went on and has every chance of following up here. (8) OLD CHEONHA came home 4th in the same race, also on debut and is another who should appreciate the additional trip. (5) TRIPLE STORM was a significantly improved 2nd last start and can maintain that momentum today while (7) BURNING PARTY is another in the hunt.

Selections(1) The First Factor (13) Adele Smart (8) Old Cheonha (5) Triple Storm
Next Best7, 4
Fast Start1, 3, 7, 13

Seoul Race 3: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

A rare small field with just the nine three-year-old maidens going to post here. (9) BLACK ROOKIE is the pick and is likely to be a warm favourite. She has the fastest time at the distance which she recorded on a relatively slow track when 2nd two starts back. She was satisfactory, if one-paced, when 5th at 1400M last start and the drop back should suit. She has a strong finish and the wide draw shouldn’t be an issue. (7) GO GO STAR has finished between 3rd and 5th in all of her five starts to date. She was a good 3rd at this distance last start and that should be a minimum requirement today. (6) GUK HYANG ran an improved 2nd at 1000M on her third outing back in February and can build on that today. (3) MASEONG CHEONHA and (8) LUCKY WORLD will need lines drawn through their respective latest offerings but are other sin the placing frame.

Selections(9) Black Rookie (6) Guk Hyang (7) Go Go Star (8) Lucky World
Next Best3
Fast Start3, 6, 7, 8

Busan Race 3: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 28 Million

(2) TAKE INDY KING drops back in trip after two goes around 1400M. He ran 2nd on his previous try at this distance having led for much of the way and draws nicely here. He has every chance. (10) CROWN FUNKY beat three of these on his way to a solid class and distance 2nd place on February 20th. She has mixed her form but looks nicely in here to go well again with the same apprentice jockey taking plenty of weight off again. The draw this time though favours (1) YEONGGWANGUI START. He ran 4th in that race and from the inside could well get on the pace today. If he does, then he has solid claims. (4) WONDERFUL KING comes in off a strong 3rd place last start beating a couple of these in the process and can be competitive again while (11) EAGLE STAR may have lost his way a little in his latest two but has plenty of ability and could come back into form here.

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