Seoul & Busan Sunday: Power Blade In The Owners’ Cup – Race-By-Race Preview (July 29)

There is a heavyweight rematch in the Owners’ Cup (Korea Group 3) at Busan this Sunday as Silver Wolf and Power Blade face off once more having run 1st and 2nd in the Busan Ilbo Cup earlier this year. This time it’s at a mile and they’re joined by other big-hitters Doraonpogyeongseon and I’m Your Father  as well as up and comer Mighty Ssing in what is set to be one of the races of the summer. There are 5 races at Busan from 12:40 to 16:20 and 12 at Seoul from 10:45 to 18:00.

(Update 9/29 – It emerged on Sunday morning that on Saturday Power Blade fractured his proximal sesamoid bone in his right foreleg and has been scratched from the Owners’ Cup and retired from racing)

Silver Wolf Power Blade Busan Ilbo 2018

Silver Wolf (right) beat Power Blade to win the Busan Ilbo Cup (Pic: KRA)

Cheongdam Dokki was entered in the race but ultimately did not travel, to Busan. Full previews of every race in Korea on Sunday (and horse-by-horse of the Owners’ Cup) is below:

Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

(2) DONGHAE SILVER was an improved 2nd over 1200 M last time, leading for much of the race before getting overturned in the closing stages. She drops back to 1000M today and can continue here progress. (3) SUN QUEEN ran a promising 2nd on debut over this distance behind Sagwarang, who went on to run 3rd at a higher level last weekend. She was a 70/1 shot that day but will get a bit more respect based on that and looks the main danger. (5) SKY JUMP also looked encouraging on debut, running 4th of 8 on a very wet track at the star of this month and can make progress here. (4) I’M HAPPY and (6) BLESSING ROAD look best of the rest.

Selections (2) Donghae Silver (3) Sun Queen (5) Sky Jump (4) I’m Happy
Next Best 6
Fast Start 2, 6

Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(5) TAURUS run a good 2nd on debut at this distance on July 1st and the stars looked aligned for his maiden win here. (4) MAPAEBONG ran an improved 5th place in that race, his best in three outings so far and he could well prove to be the main danger today. (3) HYEONGMA PUBU keeps on being well backed and keeps coming up short although she should be looking to at least match her career-best finish of 3rd here. (6) MEGA CITY showed some glimpses of talent when finishing 3rd at odds of 90/1 last time. He’s been off since April and is a bit of an unknown quantity here. So too is first-timer starter (7) JJANGDAE but he trialled up competently enough earlier this month and must be given a chance of a place in this limited company.

Selections (5) Taurus (7) Jjangdae (4) Mapaebong (3) Hyeongma Pubu
Next Best 6, 8
Fast Start 3, 6

Race 3: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(5) HADALRAE is up in class after getting his maiden win at the third time of asking on June 30th. It was at this distance and he made all on a wet track. He’s well drawn to get on speed again and can win again. (7) SHAR NAO and (1) HANSEN BAROWS came home 4th and 6th respectively when they raced each other on July 1stover 1700M and both drop back in trip today. Both are likely to challenge the favourite for the early lead and can go close here. (6) DONGTEUL TTAE has raced just the once this year and is a bit of a wildcard but has won at the distance and could go well. (8) SKY BIG remains a maiden after twenty-eight attempts but ran well for 3rd at class and distance on a wet track last time and could repeat.

Selections (5) Hadalrae (7) Shar Nao (1) Hansen Barows (8) Sky Big
Next Best 6, 3
Fast Start 1, 5, 7

Race 4: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(2) MASYA remains a maiden but acquitted herself well on her first try at this level having been promoted following a narrow defeat over 1000M at class 6 in May. She ran 4th of 12 at 1200M, running on nicely at the end and has as good a chance as any of winning here. (8) AMARONE was 2nd last start at 1200M, albeit beaten five-lengths by Geuma Thunder. Her solitary win came at this distance back in January and she’s another who can finish strongly. (1) JIGONG JEIL began well but quickly weakened when sent out at this distance on June 24th. It was her first outing in three months and first at this level and she can go much better today. She’ll likely be on the early speed and be joined by (4) HAETSAL WANGJA, who has plenty of experience at this level and can benefit from Manoel Nunes aboard today. (6) COMPLETE HIGH looks best of the rest.

Selections (2) Masya (8) Amarone (1) Jigong Jeil (4) Haetsal Wangja
Next Best 6, 7
Fast Start 1, 4

Seoul Race 5: Class 4 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million

Another wide open race with plenty in the hunt. After several near-misses, (1) JUNGLE BEAT finally got his maiden with plenty to spare over 1000M three weeks ago. He’s up in class today and up to 1200M for the first time but he can win again. (11) SOMETHING MYSTERY and (8) WOOSEORA ICHEON are both up in class having finished 1st and 2nd at this distance on June 23rd and both should be competitive at this level. As for those who already have class 4 experience, (5) JEONGSANG MUJEOK is already a winner at this level and steps up in trip for the first time following a 2nd place over 1000M a month ago while (6) INCITATUS came home a creditable 5th in a decent race on a wet track at the beginning of this month and can get closer today.

Selections (1) Jungle Beat (5) Jeongsang Mujeok (6) Incitatus (8) Wooseora Icheon
Next Best 11, 9
Fast Start 1, 2, 4, 5, 11

Busan Race 2: Class 5 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(1) VICAR BLADE got his maiden win over 1300M at the second time of asking two weeks ago and backs up quickly here. He’s up in class and once more marginally in distance but (more…)

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Seoul Saturday: Race-By-Race Preview Of The Bumper 15-race card (July 28)

There are no fewer than 15 races at Seoul this Saturday with the 1st at 2pm and the last at 9pm.  There’s no Manoel Nunes as he is away riding in the Macau Derby and no Antonio Da Silva as he is at Busan to ride Mighty Ssing in the Owners’ Cup on Sunday While Johan Victoire and David Breux are both in France. So there are plenty of opportunities for the locals this week:

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Lim Gi Won will be among a number of riders looking to take advantages of several big name absentees on Seoul’s Saturday program

Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(9) GRAND DOLPUNG got his career-best result to date last time out, running 2nd over this distance and the Hansen colt can go one better today for a stable that has been coming into form over the past couple of weeks. (5) GUDSEEORA too enters off a much-improved 2nd just two weeks ago and backs up quickly with chances although (3) ULTRA MISSILE, who is likely to lead from the gate, may be a bigger danger. (2) RUSSEL and (10) MIRACLE GOLD are two others who can have potential to improve on promising – if not exactly quick – recent efforts.

Selections (9) Grand Dolpung (3) Ultra Missile (10) Miracle Gold (5) Gudseeora
Next Best 2, 11
Fast Start 3, 11

Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

Two-year-old maidens only and three of the seven have raced before. The one that showed the most was (7) HAEDEULMOE, who ran 3rd at 1000M on July 1st. He finished a cool twelve lengths behind a good winner but he ran on nicely and the extra furlong should suit. (5) GEOTAP did nothing wrong either on his debut comfortably finishing in midfield, also at 1000M and should improve today. There are a couple of useful debut-makers though and (3) SMARTY ADELE could well jump the favourite. She’s from the top Song Moon Gil stable and looked competent when running 3rd in a trial in a quicker time than many race in and if she brings that form to the track, she has a serious chance and could well get an uncontested early lead. (1) GEUMA KINGDOM and (6) RAON STELLA are the other first-timers to keep an eye on.

Selections (3) Smarty Adele (7) Haedeulmoe (5) Geotap (6) Raon Stella
Next Best 1
Fast Start 3

Race 3: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

More two-year-old maidens. Half of the eight have raced once before and it was (8) GOD OF SOCKS who went the best, finishing 2nd over 1000M ten lengths behind a good winner (and ahead of Haedeulmoe from race 2) on July 1st and he can win today. (6) TOHAMSAN POWER and (3) LAO JIN also debuted in that race, running 5th and 7th respectively and both can improve here. Lao Jin went back to trial just last week and performed very well suggesting she may be the greater danger this time. The first-timers here didn’t really catch the eye in trials. The best look to be (4) BARAMUI MISO and (7) GEUMBIT TANHWAN.

Selections (8) God Of Socks (3) Lao Jin (6) Tohamsan Power (4) Baramui Miso
Next Best 7, 1
Fast Start 3, 6, 8

Race 4: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(8) BRAVO ILSIN come sin off a 3rd and a 2nd from her latest two having led both at some stage. They were at 1300M and she drops slightly back in trip today with a big chance of coming home on top. (2) LOVELY NUTE ran twice without distinction at the tail-end of last year and returns after a full thirty weeks out. She’s moved to Simon Foster’s barn now and looked a much improved animal when trialing two weeks ago and will be a danger here. (5) RAON GANGHO has been close in each of his last five outings and although he’s never managed better than 3rd, can aim for at least the places here. (1) SONGAM JEUNE and (3) JEONGMUN JEKI are others who can go close.

Selections (8) Bravo Ilsin (2) Lovely Nute (5) Raon Gangho (3) Jeongmun Jeki
Next Best 1, 4
Fast Start 1, 2, 3, 8

Race 5: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(6) MAIN EVENT beat both (5) SAMAE STAR and (7) TAEWANG SINHWA on his way to 2nd place at this distance on June 30th. That was something of an upset but Main Even will need some respect today and could repeat. Nevertheless, Taewang Sinhwa, who never looked hugely comfortable from a wide draw that day, has gone close in the past and has every chance of overturning the form here. (4) POX RANGER may be the one they all need to beat though. She was 3rd the last time she raced at this distance in May and held her own in a reasonably stiff 1000M contest at the beginning of this month. Expect her to be ridden to the lead today with every chance of staying on. (9) Cheonsang Giun and (11) Speed Captain others who may get involved.

Selections (4) Pox Ranger (7) Taewang Sinhwa (6) Main Event (11) Speed Captain
Next Best 9, 10
Fast Start 4, 6, 11

Race 6: Class 4 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 75 Million

A rare maiden for two-year-old imports sees six first-timer starters and one who has raced one time before. All things being equal, the actual race experience can be important, especially if they ran well and (1) NAUI BICHIYEO did exactly that. The Mission Impazible colt ran 3rd of 7 at this distance on June 16th and can progress from that to the winner’s circle today. (7) THANK YOU CHARLIE made all to “win” his trial by a (more…)

Busan Friday: Race-By-Race Preview (July 27)

With Jeju Racecourse taking its midsummer break this weekend, there are bumper cards at both Busan and Seoul on Friday and Saturday respectively. Things get underway at Busan on Friday where there are 14 races from 14:30 to 21:00. 

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It’s Friday. It’s Busan

Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

A maiden to begin with and it’s not a strong one. (1) B.K. UNO ticks most boxes having shown a bit of development across five outings so far and was a decent 4th against better than today’s opposition last time on June 24th. He should go close. (3) USEUNG TICKET finished 5th in that June race and can continue her development under a top jockey today. (9) MUCHO improved into 2nd last start albeit in even weaker company than this. He’ll be quickly out of the gate and is a contender. Also likely to be on speed early is (2) NOPIGOM DODASHA, two starts into a comeback after a long absence and not without ability. (4) SONGAK MYEONGJANG is one start into a comeback of his own and went promisingly enough last time.

Selections (1) B.K. Uno (9) Mucho (3) Useung Ticket (4) Songak Myeongjang
Next Best 2, 11
Fast Start 2, 8, 9

Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(3) WINNER CINDY is the only one of these to have a 2nd place to her name, achieved on her latest start three weeks ago. It was at this distance and she came close to making all in arguably tougher company than this and she can go all the way this time. (7) SWEEP MAN has been knocking at the door for some time now. He was only beaten half a length by Winner Cindy when 4th at this distance in June and Bart Rice’s colt looks the main danger here. (1) THUNDER GLORY raced three times without success last autumn but looked a better prospect on her return after seven months off at the end of June. (4) THUNDER QUEEN offered few clues in a forgettable debut three weeks ago but had previously trialed well and may improve today.

Selections (3) Winner Cindy (7) Sweep Man (1) Thunder Glory (4) Thunder Queen
Next Best 6, 5, 2
Fast Start 1, 3, 4

Race 3: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

Two standouts here should be battling it out with one another. (2) CHEONNYEONUI ACHIM has a 3rd and a 2nd from two outings to date, the latest of which was at this distance when he beat Winner Cindy (who we saw in race 2). A win shouldn’t be far off and it really should arrive today. He’ll likely try to lead all the way as will main rival (7) PERFECT ACE. After a slightly underwhelming debut in May, he returned on June 22nd to run a strong 2nd over 1300M, leading until the closing stages and has a chance of hanging on this time. All (5) SANDY managed to do on debut was get tailed-off and sent back to trial. She’s had four months off since then and the subsequent trial went very nicely so we’ll give her another chance here. (6) BAEDARI SINHWA and (8) ON DAY are others who can improve.

Selections (2) Cheonnyeonui Achim (7) Perfect Ace (6) Baedari Sinhwa (5) Sandy
Next Best 8, 1, 3
Fast Start 2, 7

Race 4: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

Indifferent across three starts around the turn of the year, (5) WONDERFUL STORY has looked a much better horse since returning after five months off in June, running 3rd and 2nd, both at this distance and he can make the breakthrough here. (6) P.K. NINE ran a much-improved 2nd on what was his fourth start three weeks ago and will probably be the main danger. Both those will likely take a sit early behind (3) MR. COLORS, who has struggled on his latest two but had previously offered a hit of talent and is carrying significantly less weight today. (4) CHEONJI KINGS ran well last time on what was just his second start while (7) RENAISSANCE MAN did nothing wrong when 3rd on debut four weeks ago and can look to match that finish here.

Selections (5) Wonderful Story (6) P.K. Nine (7) Renaissance Man (4) Cheonji Kings
Next Best 3
Fast Start 3, 4, 7

Race 5: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

There is an interesting debut-maker here in the shape of (3) QUICK MOVE. She’s the solitary first-time starter but looked very competent trailing two weeks ago and looks to have a genuine chance first up here. She’ll probably be ridden to the front early and can go all the way. (1) BAEKDU QUEEN registered her second 3rd place finish last time over 1200M and is likely to be in the hunt here while (8) FIRST VICTORY also ran 3rd on what was just his second career start four weeks ago and can build on it here. (2) HORTENSE ran promisingly on debut in June and while she only beat one home when well-backed on reappearance at this distance two weeks ago, is worth another chance here. (6) TIME SPEC too is capable of finding places, having been not too far away in better company than this of late.

Selections (3) Quick Move (8) First Victory (1) Baekdu Queen (6) Time Spec
Next Best 2, 7
Fast Start 3

Race 6: Class 5 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(4) MISS PERFECT was an eye-catching five-length winner on what was just her second start on June 22nd. It was a fast time too and while she is up in class here, she’ll be favoured to repeat, leading all the way. (9) GOLDEN KNIGHT got up to win by a nose at this class and distance on July 8th. The wide draw shouldn’t be a problem and he can finish strongly once more. (3) HURRICANE DREAM returned from five months out to run a good 4th at the distance on June 17th. She remains a maiden but has proven competitive (more…)

Seoul & Busan Sunday: Race-By-Race Preview (July 22)

There are 11 Sunday races at Seoul from 10:45 to 18:00 and 6 at Busan from 12:40 to 17:05. The feature race is the Ilgan Sports Trophy at Seoul where Sharp Kaylan, 2nd in the final leg of the Triple Crown last month, has the chance to pick up a piece of silverware. Immediately after the last race at Seoul, the KRA Trophy at Kranji in Singapore will be shown . Three Korean horses, Today, Gakbyeolhan and Approach, have made the trip over. Here are race-by-race comments for the Seoul meeting. Busan selections (and one for Kranji) are below:

Ministers3

Sharp Kaylan came close in the Minister’s Cup but had to settle for 2nd place. He can win Sunday’s Ilgan Sports (Pic: KRA)

Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

(3) GYEONGGUKJIMA ran a strong 3rd in a good time on debut on June 16th, racing on pace throughout. She’s well drawn to lead early and should make all the running in this all-filly maiden. (5) HEUNG OREUM debuted in the same race, ending in a creditable 5th and she can build on that here although she has plenty to find on the favourite. (7) LUCAS was also 3rd on her debut last month and while she was slightly less impressive than Gyeonggukjima, she can at least match that here. First-time starter (4) DANGDAE SONYEO looks an interesting proposition under Manoel Nunes while (9) STAR LIST beat a couple of these on her way to an improved 3rd on her fourth career start four weeks ago.

Selections (3) Gyeonggukjima (7) Lucas (5) Heung Oreum (4) Dangdae Sonyeo
Next Best 9, 10
Fast Start 1, 3, 4, 7

Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(7) HANIL DALBIT has shown promise across four prior starts. His best finish came when he was just beaten a neck over the distance at the end of April having led almost until the line. Last time out he was favourite and while he could only manage 4th, is worth another chance here. (2) SOKBO WANGWI was 6th that day on her first try at this distance and she can continue to progress. (6) SANTOS has been inconsistent but has shown some talent and can be a danger most likely challenging Hanil Dalbit for the early speed. (3) DAEGIL SANGJON offered few clues in two outings last year but returns here after ten months off having trialled up very promisingly a couple of weeks ago and can go well first-up. (9) BEST LEVEL was a much-improved 2nd, albeit a full thirteen lengths behind the winner, at this distance on a soaking wet track three weeks ago and could maintain that momentum.

Selections (7) Hanil Dalbit (6) Santos (3) Daegil Sangjon (2) Sokbo Wangwi
Next Best 9, 11
Fast Start 6, 7

Race 3: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

A convincing winner over 1000M in May, (4) PALDO DAEJANG stepped up to this class and distance on June 17th and ran a good 2nd place. He was favourite that day but can be given another chance here. He’ll try to get the lead straight from the gate and can go all the way. (7) HAMBAK MISO won on debut back in March and has been close in all three outings since, culminating in 2nd place behind Penetro at the end of May. He comes in here reasonably fresh and should be close again. (2) RAON PRO SENSE is up in class after his maiden win at 1000M on June 23rd and while he has struggled on both previous tries at this distance, could go better today. (3) DUAL CHOEGANG remains a maiden after sixteen attempts but looks to be getting to grips with this level and could make a place.

Selections (4) Paldo Daejang (7) Hambak Miso (2) Raon Pro Sense (3) Dual Choegang
Next Best 6, 5
Fast Start 2, 4

Race 4: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(5) UNDEFEATED won on debut in May but hasn’t quite lived up to his name in two starts since although he has run well, finishing 2nd and 3rd at 1200M and 1000M respectively. He’s with a new trainer today and tries this distance for the first time and can return to winning ways. (1) ROYAL PRINCE scored his maiden win at 1000M and steps up in class here. He’s raced reasonably well at this distance before and can be competitive. (7) DAECHEONUI SARANG ran a good, if slightly unexpected 3rd at class and distance last start four weeks ago and can be given more respect today while (8) CHUKBOGUI (more…)

Seoul Saturday: Race-By-Race Preview (July 21)

It’s very hot! Saturday racing is at Seoul with 11 races from 14:00 to 21:00:

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Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(4) SONGAM GONGJU has been close in each of her latest three, running a good 2nd over this distance back in May before following up with a 3rd and 4th in two tries at 1200M. She only needs another top-three finish to go up in class and she can exit class 6 with a win here. She’s not a fast-starter but can finish strongly. (7) KAILLUM YEOJE has two 5ths among three efforts so far and can improve here under the in-form Antonio Da Silva, (3) SINBIRYONG and (10) MAX THUNDER also come in having run 5th last time out and can improve too. (8) HWANSANGUI BIT showed progress when running 3rd at this distance last time and while it was a slow time in a slow race, can be a threat here.

Selections (4) Songam Gongju (7) Kaillum Yeoje (3) Sinbiryong (10) Max Thunder
Next Best 8, 6, 9
Fast Start 5, 7, 8, 10

Race 2: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

Eleven previously unraced two-year-olds go here chasing a big prize first-up. Two of them enter having won trials. (6) BAEKSAN MENIQUEEN and (11) MIREU STORM both coming home on top in their heats with front-running performances, with Baeksan Meniqueen the more impressive of the pair. Plenty of others caught the eye too though. The bang-in-form Manoel Nunes partners Simon Foster’s (9) CHOEGANG STAR. The Midshipman colt came 2nd in a fast hear three weeks ago and looks to have solid claims here. Matching his trial time was (1) CHEONSE MANSE. Nunes rode that one too in the heats and he can’t be completely overlooked. Other trial eye-catchers were (2) DEO JOEUN NAEIL and (7) ATHENA V but as ever in this kind of race, be sure to watch the market for clues.

Selections (6) Baeksan Meniqueen (9) Choegang Star (2) Deo Joeun Naeil (7) Athena V
Next Best 11, 3, 1
Fast Start 2, 9, 11

Race 3: Class 5 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(8) SAGWARANG was an eye-catching nine-length winner over the distance on her second career start in an all-filly race four weeks ago. Accordingly, she is up in class today but has every chance of making all once more. (1) BLUE ANNA will be a big threat though. She broke her own maiden back in May, beating a couple of these along the way and ran a good 2nd place on her first try at this level on June 23rd. She may not challenge Sagwarang for the early lead, but she has a strong finish. (3) KKEULEOJUNEUN SON has been frustrating but showed she’s not devoid of talent when running 3rd over 1200M last time and interestingly drops back to the minimum distance for the first time on almost exactly one year. She doesn’t look any closer to her maiden win but can challenge for a place again. (5) STRONG LIGHT is never too far away and also looks good for the places while (7) BEST MAID came back into some kind of form with 3rd last start and can compete once more.

Selections (8) Sagwarang (1) Blue Anna (3) Kkeuleojuneun Son (5) Strong Light
Next Best 7, 6, 10
Fast Start 1, 4, 5, 8

Race 4: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(2) MYEONGJIN MAN has shown steady progress across three starts so far and his 3rd last time at 1200M suggests more to come. He’s up to 1300M for the first time and Manoel Nunes can continue his red-hot July. (10) DAE UNHA has shown ability too in four outings with a best of 3rd and should be the main danger. He returns from a couple of months off and drops back in trip today. (1) GOLD STREET hasn’t been too far away in her recent efforts and ran a useful 4th at the distance last time to enter the placing frame here. (8) DAE CAIN was well back behind Gold Street last start but can be given another chance here.

Selections (2) Myeongjin Man (10) Dae Unha (1) Gold Street (8) Dae Cain
Next Best 7, 9
Fast Start 1, 5, 8, 10

Race 5: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

It took (4) CHOIN DAEBO three starts to get his maiden win but he obliged handsomely enough over this distance on June 16th. He’s up in class today but strongly in the frame to win again, likely leading from gate to wire. (7) FIORE joins him up in class having run 2nd to him last start but clearly has more to find so a greater danger could be (2) LAST (more…)

Busan Friday: Race-By-Race Preview (July 20)

It’s been a baking hot week on the Korean peninsula and that looks set to continue as we head into the weekend’s racing. Things kick off at Busan on Friday with 10 races from 14:30 to 21:00:

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It’s Friday, It’s Busan!

Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

Five of these raced each other over the distance on June 22nd and (5) OFFICE TAP, who was debuting that day, came out the best of them finishing in 3rd place. He was well beaten by the top two place-getters but showed enough to suggest he can build on it here and can win. It is fair to say though that the ones he beat that day aren’t necessarily his main rivals here. Instead, the debut-maker (3) MUJEOK VETERAN looks dangerous following a nice-looking trial and can be backed first up while (4) FASHION WANG was 2nd when sent off as favourite at the distance last month and will be in the frame to go one better here, likely leading from the start. (7) BREAKING NEWS and (11) QUEEN’S FANTASY, the latter another debut-maker and form the strong Kim Young-kwan stable, are others to take into account.

Selections (5) Office Tap (3) Mujeok Veteran (4) Fashion Wang (11) Queen’s Fantasy
Next Best 7, 1
Fast Start 1, 4, 7, 11

Race 2: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

A maiden for two-year-olds only. Two of the eight have raced before and it’s one of those, (3) YEONGGWANGUICHEON, who will start the strong favourite here. He ran a good 2nd, leading in the closing stages, on his debut on June 22nd and he should be quick out of the gate here and lead all the way. (5) GIMABUDAEJANG was 7th on his own debut in that same race and showed enough to suggest he can build on that here. Thomas Gillespie sends out two first-timers and both can go well first-up. (2) MUJEOK YEONGUNG will be the most favoured of the two having won a trial in fine fashion at the end of June. (8) ACE CRUSH too ran well in his trial, finishing behind a pair of experienced horses while beating other newcomers. (4) B.K. THUNDER looks best of the rest.

Selections (3) Yeonggwanguicheon (2) Mujeok Yeongung (5) Gimabudaejang (4) B.K. Thunder
Next Best 8, 7
Fast Start 2, 3

Race 3: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(5) CHEONHAUI KKUM has race eleven times and is yet to finish any better than 3rd but he comes in with recent form reading well having managed a 5th and two 4th place finishes from his latest three in similar strength company to this. He can settle behind the early leaders and may well pass them all late on. (1) MONEY BLACK HOLE is the only one in the field who has a 2nd place finish to his name, achieved over a mile in May. He was well-backed for his re-appearance dropped back to 1200M last month and while he never really got involved – and lost a shoe along the way – could be better at slightly further today. (2) BAENGNYEON JIJON ran a good 5th on debut on May 25th and can build on that under a top jockey today. (8) TOJONG CHAMP and the solitary debut-maker (9) CHALLANHAN MISO, are other who should be in the hunt.

Selections (5) Cheonhaui Kkum (1) Money Black Hole (2) Baengnyeon Jijon (9) Challanhan Miso
Next Best 8, 3
Fast Start 1, 7

Race 4: Class 6 (1600M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

On the strength of a 2nd place over 1200M in June, (7) I’M YOUR STAR was sent off as favourite for his latest start at that same distance two weeks ago. He didn’t get off to a great start that day and then became stuck in kickback which made him run wide around the turn and he ended up in 4th. He’s given a bit more distance today which could well suit, and he gets another chance. (6) SILENT PARK is another for whom the extended (more…)

Some Thoughts on the KRA Trophy at Kranji in Singapore This Coming Sunday

The Korea Racing Authority Trophy will be run at Kranji Racecourse in Singapore on Sunday and for the fourth year in a row, Korean horses will be taking part. The record of those who have made the trip in previous years is somewhat less than stellar so can Today, Gakbyeolhan and Approach do differently this time around?

The trio hve been at Kranji for almost a week now and the Singapore Turf Club has an excellent write up of their progress as well as an interview with Franco Da Silva, who will be partnering Today in the 1200M race, which is worth S$250,000.

First the history, and it’s not good from a Korean perspective. 2015 saw the inaugural running of the race with Gamdonguibada, Cheon Gu and Nobody Catch Me making the trip. Cheon Gu led  into the home-straight before tiring and being passed. Gamdonguibada, perhaps predictably for a miler dropping down to six furlongs, took a while to get going and never really fired, beating just one. Nobody Catch Me, however, ran on well for 6th place, just over four lengths behind the winner.

In 2016, it was the turn of Always Winner, Triple Five and Parang Juuibo with the latter of them being the best finisher, matching Nobody Catch Me’s 6th. Last year neither Choegangja, who was highly thought-of going into the race, nor Zentenary – who was less so – were able to make much impact, with Choegangja coming back with heat-stroke.

While the surface is evidently very different, that alone is insufficient in explaining away the hitherto poor performances; Korean horses have run well on dirt in Dubai, albeit with a longer acclimatization period. The tempo of the races is also something that tends to test Korean-trained horses when going overseas with a higher “cruising speed” required rather than the “go as fast as you can from the gate” tempo that tends to be prevalent here. They’re capable of doing it but it isn’t easy – Power Blade, for example, ran very well in Dubai but he was an exhausting watch with his rider having to contantly battle simply to keep him in contention.

So can this year’s trio make an impression? On paper, we should be very excited about Today (Drosselmeyer) and if the race was on the Korean sand, he would be the favourite. And if he takes to the polytrack even slightly, then he should be right in it. Paper isn’t polytrack though. A winner of 10 from 13, the one concern is that when Today finally met top class opposition in the SBS Sports Sprint at Seoul in early June, he came up slightly short running 3rd behind Doraonpogyeongseon and Choegang Schiller – both very accomplished sprinters. It was also his first time racing away from his home track of Busan. Da Silva rode him for the first time that day and explained that he didn’t feel the horse was as balanced as he could have been but still ran well.

In Today’s favour, he is still relatively young at four and with just those thirteen starts behind him, is perhaps not so set in his ways as to find it impossible to adapt to a different tempo of race running. He is very nicely drawn in gate 7 but he doesn’t need to lead from the start. This is a horse who has run 1:11.1 for the 1200M on the sand of Busan and 1:12.5 when carrying 58kg, a half kilo above Sunday’s assignment. He can post a competitive time on the polytrack.

A stablemate of Today, Gakbyeolhan (Big Brown) was a standout juvenile who won four of his first five races. He then missed more than a year through injury, returning in the middle of his four-year-old season in June 2017. He’s won twice since coming back but both of them have been in the last four months over 1800M and 2000M respectively. Dropping back to a sprint distance today makes for a bit of an unknown but he will be expertly piloted by Fergus Sweeney, who rides in Singapore for the first time. Gakbyeolhan can give a good account of himself although expectations will not be high.

Approach (Pico Central) beat Gakbyeolhan on the way to his latest victory on what was his most recent start back at the beginning of May. That was over 1800M and he hasn’t raced at Sunday’s distance since his second ever start all the way back in October of 2014. That doesn’t mean he can’t sprint, but once a horse gets up to class 1 in Korea, there are more oportunities around two-turns. As with Gakbyeolhan, a creditable showing is a realistic target. Lee Hyo Sik, who has ridden Approach in his latest two starts (and has won on Today as well), rides.

Both Da Silva and Sweeney have picked up outside mounts and so will be familair with race riding on the track before the Trophy race. As for the Singapore horses, they look as competitive as ever in the race which will jump at 17:05 local time. Based on previous experience with Korean horses in Singapore, where even the ones with expectations upon them have come unstuck, it would be easy to toss out the chances of any of them. However, taking this set of three in isolation, we can be cautiously optimistic about Today at least, holding his own.