Triple Nine’s Stamina Defies Doubters To Land 3rd President’s Cup

In the end the punters were much closer to getting it right than the pundits. The vast majority of the Korean racing world had managed to convince itself that when it came to the rivalry between Triple Nine and Power Blade, the younger horse was now in charge, even at 2000M. Bettors, however, sent the pair off as pretty much co-favourites and ultimately it was Triple Nine who prevailed at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday to match the achievement of Dangdae Bulpae in winning three consecutive President’s Cups.

Triple Nine President's Cup 3

Triple Nine beat Power Blade to win his 3rd President’s Cup at Seoul on Sunday (Pic: KRA)

l was guiltier than most, having gone from believing at the start of the week that Triple Nine still had every chance over his preferred distance to by the time of the race, being sure Power Blade would win. In the end, it wasn’t even close with Triple Nine collaring his rival a furlong from home and running on to win by an ever-increasing two lengths.

Triple Nine was given a very good ride by Lim Sung Sil who this year has established himself as the top big race rider in Korea. This was his third Group race victory of the year (more impressive than it sounds given the limited number), achieved on three different horses and he is likely to ride favourite World Sun in the Breeders’ Cup race back at Seoul in early December. Then of course, there is the prospect of Triple Nine in the Grand Prix Stakes.

Lim is an infrequent rider, his minimum weight of 54kg not being conducive to regular mounts in Korea, but some of the rides he has produced – initiative in the Minister’s Cup and timing in last week’s Gimhae Mayor’s Cup and of course on Triple Nine on Sunday – mark him out as a cut above most here.

Ultimately, the President’s Cup finishing order was exactly the same as last year, with Triple Nine winning, Power Blade 2nd and Success Story 3rd. Korean Derby winner Final Boss could only manage 4th. He raced prominently throughout but never looked likely in the home straight and is perhaps not quite at the very elite level yet. That elite level is set by the winner and runner-up, ten lengths clear of the rest.

Korean racing has been very lucky to have both Triple Nine and Power Blade over the past two years. Their performances over the summer must surely put an end to the general belief on the backstretches in Seoul and Busan that travelling overseas to race is detrimental to horses’ chances of racing successfully in Korea. Granted it took both a while to readjust on their return from Dubai and they probably did miss out on winning some easy prize money in routine handicaps – and granted too, remarkably this was Triple Nine’s first race win since the corresponding one a year ago. But both could have probably used the spell anyway after long campaigns.

Moreover, Power Blade especially came back a better horse and it has now been demonstrated that Triple Nine lost nothing either with both having beaten the other at their preferred trips. There is, of course a reason why in September, Power Blade ran in the Korea Sprint and Triple Nine in the Korea Cup. While Triple Nine will head for the Grand Prix, Power Blade almost certainly won’t and at least for him, another trip to Dubai would make perfect sense, even if he has to forego an easy win or two here. For now, connections remain unconvinced.

Dangdae Bulpae, whose three-timer Triple Nine has now equaled, did attempt a fourth in 2013. It was a race too far for him. A year is a very long time in flat racing but hopefully Triple Nine will still be here.


Seoul & Busan Sunday – Triple Nine vs Power Blade in the President’s Cup: Race-By-Race Preview (November 5)

Triple Nine heads into Sunday’s President’s Cup (KOR G1) at Seoul Racecourse looking to match Dangdae Bulpae’s feat of three consecutive wins in what is the nation’s most valuable race restricted to Domestic-bred horses. More likely though is that we witness a changing of the guard of sorts as stablemate Power Blade will be favourite to assert his own claim to be top of the Korean racing tree.


Power Blade won the Korean Derby this year. He gets the chance to depose Triple Nine in the President’s Cup (Pic: Ross Holburt)

That transition is almost complete. Both went to the Dubai World Cup Carnival and represented Korea with extremely creditable performances but since they’ve come back, it’s Power Blade who has gone on to excel. That’s not to say that Triple Nine is demonstrably any worse; just that that Power Blade has got better and better and the younger horse has already downed Triple Nine at distances of 1400M and a Mile.

Neither are straightforward horses. Power Blade needs urging all the way around while Triple Nine takes a very long time to reach his top gear. It’s those factors which combine with the 2000M distance of the President’s Cup that gives Triple Nine backers a glimmer of hope. Power Blade now though, is good enough to extinguish it.

Traditionally in Korea this would be the race where the top three-year-olds of the year faced their older counterparts in a Group race for the first time. Indeed, Korean Derby winner Final Boss takes his chance. Similar to the two favourites, he is anything but straightforward but on his day, looks an exceptional talent. Daeho Sidae, who beat Final Boss in the final leg of the Triple Crown also goes.

Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(1) DUSON EYE just missed out by a neck over 1000M on October 1st and he’s the pick to go one better here, likely leading all the way. (2) SKY CAMP has been 3rd in both his starts so far, albeit in less than exalted company and there’s no reason why that record can’t continue here. He’ll likely join Duson Eye up front early. (5) GEUMEUN JUOK was well back behind Duson Eye on latest effort but had shown glimpses of talent before while debut-maker (3) BAEKDUUI JEONGSANG has to be given a chance in this company having trialled up in decent fashion last month.

Selections (1) Duson Eye (2) Sky Camp (3) Baekduui Jeongsang (5) Geumeun Juok
Next Best 9, 11
Fast Start 1, 2, 11

Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(8) HIGH STAR comes in having run 3rd and 4th in her latest two, both of them similarly modest contests to this one. She’s not necessarily the fastest of starters but will run on and could get her maiden win here. (3) O.J. HWAK DAB gets a fresh start today. She’s not been convincing in two outings to date but looked much improved when trialling up in October and can be backed here. (2) SOJUNGHAN SEONGBUL’s latest two have been too difficult and she should be much happier today – the champion jockey riding her will (more…)

Seoul Saturday: Race-By-Race Preview (November 4)

It’s turned cold in Korea! Saturday sees 12 races at Seoul from 10:45 to 18:00. Here are the previews:

Race 1: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

Fillies only to kick us off and (9) AMENDA has come close in her latest and arrives here looking ready to win. She needs a good start but so long as she gets it, she’ll be hard to beat. (1) C.K. QUEEN a bit unexpectedly showed some form racing 3rd last start in similar strength company and could follow up here while (3) SEOURI BYEOL has taken some time getting into top gear in her two outings so far and should appreciate the longer trip today. Two of (7) YEOWOORI’s starts so far have been in big juvenile races so clearly she is rated at home and we’ll expect improvement today while (6) DORAON PACHYAI did show some of the aforementioned improvement on latest effort and can go close again.

Selections (9) Amenda (3) Seouri Byeol (1) C.K. Queen (7) Yeowoori
Next Best 6, 10
Fast Start 4, 7, 9

Race 2: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

(6) CLEAN UP TEUKGEUP was first past the post on debut on October 1st but was subsequently demoted to 2nd for interfering with the 2nd placed horse. The one that got promoted that day went on to win again well last week so we’ll expect Clean Up Teukgeup to do things cleanly today. (2) STRONG CAPTAIN was 2nd behind a good winner last time and can get even closer here while likewise (8) JUMEOK DOKKI showed good improvement over 1200M three weeks ago and looks set for another good run. The sole debut-maker is (3) FLYING HERA and she looked competent enough in trials.

Selections (6) Clean Up Teukgeup (8) Jumeok Dokki (2) Strong Captain (3) Flying Hera
Next Best 9, 1
Fast Start 4, 6, 7

Race 3:  Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

(11) MENI JILJU was just beaten a nose on a much improved second outing at the beginning of September. She comes back in off nine weeks off and while this looks stiffer, she has solid claims here. (8) SKY MARINE similarly was 2nd on her second start at the end of last month and should join Meni Jilju on the early pace. (5) TAMNA YEOSIN faded badly on debut but is bound to be well backed with the champion jockey on board today having previously looked to have promise in trials. There are three debut-makers and among them, (6) DAECHEONUI SARANG took a couple of attempts to qualify but looked good when doing so three weeks ago and can be backed first-up in this company.

Selections (11) Meni Jilju (8) Sky Marine (6) Daecheonui Sarang (5) Tamna Yeosin
Next Best 4, 12
Fast Start 5, 6, 8, 11

Race 4: Class 5 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

Small but competitive field here and while the up in class (5) PHEONIX HEART remains a maiden, he’s shown enough over three starts so far to suggest that shouldn’t be the case for too much longer. He came close over 1200M last time, beaten by a good winner and despite the rise in level, there’s nothing here that should worry him too much. Also up in class but in her case following a victory, (7) BEST MAID should be competitive as well (more…)

Busan Friday: Race-By-Race Preview (November 3)

It’s President’s Cup Weekend! Triple Nine faces Power Blade and Final Boss in the big one at Seoul on Sunday but before that of course, we have plenty of racing to get through. We begin at Busan on Friday with 11 races from 11:30 to 18:00.

Here are the previews:

Race 1: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

Tough one to begin with and a few of these look close to getting their maiden wins. We’ll side with (6) OKDAN YEOGEOL, who steps up to this distance for the first time following a 2nd place over 1000M on September 1st. She’s run on well in most of her starts and the distance may suit. (5) CHOEGANG BOLT also comes in off a career best 2nd place achieved at 1600M two weeks ago and can be considered while it’s a fresh start today for (10) ABILITY, who races for the first time since April and did indeed, show some ability when trialling up impressively last week. (2) TONGHAP BULPAE and (9) ACE VICTORY are others in the hunt.

Selection (6) Okdan Yeogeol (10) Ability (5) Choegang Bolt (9) Ace Victory
Next Best 2, 1
Fast Start 2, 9, 10

Race 2: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 55 Million

Juvenile fillies here with three newcomers and five having raced before. (1) BYEOL GEURIDA is likely to be the strong favourite having run a good 3rd on debut two weeks ago and looks to have plenty of potential. Slightly less impressive but still competent on debut was (5) MISS TANK and she’s next best while among the others who have raced before, (6) B.K. MARINE looks most likely to improve. Of the debut-makers, the Bart Rice-trained (2) QUEEN THE QUEEN looks most promising at this stage.

Selection (1) Byeol Geurida (5) Miss Tank (2) Queen The Queen (6) B.K. Marine
Next Best 8
Fast Start 1, 5, 8

Race 3: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 55 Million

More Juvenile fillies going round here with three prior raced and five newcomers. (8) CHEONNYEONDONGANDO has been 3rd on both outings so far and that’s probably just about enough to make her favourite for this. The other two with experience, (3) OS TOP (more…)

World Sun Lands Busan Juvenile Crown

Yesterday at Seoul, Choinma completed a Juvenile double, adding the Gwacheon Mayor’s Cup to his earlier triumph in the Gyeonggi Governor’s. Today at Busan, World Sun matched his feat, scoring an emphatic win in the Gimhae Mayor’s Cup having a month previously scored in the Gold Circle Trophy. They’ll clash in early December at the Breeders’ Cup in the Capital.

He has an exciting style, World Sun. Just as in the GC Trophy, his late burst of speed overwhelmed his rivals and he ran on to win by an easy 4-lengths.  Kim Young Kwan’s Ecton Blade trailed home 2nd while the Thomas Gillespie pair of Yeonghui Sidae and Gyeongjuui Durebak came in 3rd and 4th.

Gimhae Mayor’s Cup – Busan Racecourse – 1200M – October 29, 2017

1. World Sun (KOR) [Officer – Dancing Desire (Mr. Greeley)] – Lim Sung Sil – 2.7, 1.2
2. Ecton Blade (KOR) [Ecton Park – Vying Ty Grr (Regal Intention)] – Ham Wan Sik – 1.4
3. Yeonghui Sidae (KOR) [Hansen – Pebble In The Sand (Malibu Moon)] – Jin Kyum – 3.4
Distances: 4 lengths / 2 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Gyeongjuui Durebak 5. Yeonggwanguiwinner 6. Christiano 7. Captain Force 8. Sin Stealth

Sunday Seoul & Busan: Race-By-Race Preview (October 29)

On Saturday at Seoul, Choinma won the capital’s top juvenile race. On Sunday it’s Busan’s turn to find the best among its latest crop as eight 2-year-olds contest the Gimhae Mayor’s Cup. There are 11 races at Seoul from 10:45 to 18:00 and 6 at Busan from 12:40 to 17:05.


Choinma won Seoul’s top juvenile race on Saturday. It’s Busan’s turn to find a young champion on Sunday. (Pic: KRA)

Just as Seoul’s race was yesterday, the Gimhae Mayor’s looks a fascinating contest. GC Trophy winner World Sun produced a remarkable finish to win that race, beating two of his rivals here and likely enters as favourite. However, Sin Stealth got the better of him back in August ad is likely to be a danger again. Thomas Gillespie saddles a promising pair in the shape of Yeonghui Sidae and Gyeongjuui Durebak while Kim Young Kwan’s duo of Ecton Blade and Captain Force both have claims of their own.

Only Seoul is available on international simulcast (North America/Australia) today. Notes on the races as follows:

Race 1: Class 5 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(4) JANGSAN JEPAE stepped up to 1300M last time but weakened a little late on and ended up in 4th place. Dropped back to the minimum distance today, where she already has a win and a 2nd place to her name – the latter at this class – she is going to be hard to beat. The up in class (3) HWANAE JANGSEONG made all for her maiden win over 1300M last start and should be on pace once more here with good claims to be competitive while (10) BULHUUI SEUNGJA is yet to win but also finds herself up in class after a few too many near misses. Likewise there is no reason why she can’t cope with this level. The more experienced pair of (8) DESERT EAGLE and (11) EVER A ONE don’t look likely winners but are capable of finding the money in this company.

Selections (4) Jangsan Jepae (3) Hwanae Jangseong (10) Bulhuui Seungja (11) Ever A One
Next Best 8, 12
Fast Start 3, 4, 9, 11

Race 2: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(1) CALLIOPE was a convincing four-length winner on debut over 1000M a month ago and returns today up in both class and distance but still favourite to score in what is quite a strong looking contest for this level. Aside from the favourite, four others are also up in class following their maiden wins and among them (4) MAGIC TEN, looks the best. True, she won her maiden in the Stewards’ room but her and the “winner” were a full nine lengths clear of the rest of the field and she shows promise as does (11) SEUNGRI SIDAE, a three-length winner over 1300M on September 30th. Among those already at this level, (3) JANGSAN JEGUK’s latest was in tough juvenile company so he gets another chance while (10) BLUE LANCE returned from almost a year out at the start of this month and ran encouragingly enough to suggest there is improvement in store.

Selections (1) Calliope (4) Magic Ten (3) Jangsan Jeguk (11) Seungri Sidae
Next Best 10, 9
Fast Start 1, 6, 7, 8

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

Juveniles only here and just four of them have raced before. It’s among those we find out top two though with (3) J.S. STORM the pick. He debuted in 4th place all the way back at the end of July but returned to action in a swift September trial and can score here. (8) VICTORY STAR was 3rd on debut on September 23rd, beating (6) CHEONGDAM QUEENS in the process. She ran on very nicely over 1000M after a slow start and should appreciate (more…)

Choinma Makes It A Gyeonggi/Gwacheon Juvenile Double

Choinma confirmed his place at the top of the Juvenile rankings by adding the Gwacheon Mayor’s Cup to his resume at Seoul Racecourse on Saturday afternoon.

The Menifee colt was a convincing winner of last month’s Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup but with several new exciting youngsters entering the fray for the Mayor’s – the last big test before the nationwide Juvenile title is settled in the Breeders’ Cup on December 3rd, many felt Choinma would need to up his game to stay on track.

Up his game he did as he came through late to beat Hansen colt Sinui Myeongryeong by almost two lengths on the line. The previously unbeaten and well-fancied trio of Global Line, Hae Hu and The Queen Grace all faltered and ended up as also-rans but Wonderful Jackpot, 3rd in the Gyeonggi repeated the trick as that form held up very well. There was also a big run from Icheon Ssal who closed strongly for 4th and should be a very interesting prospect once the distances get longer in the new year.

Inly tme will tell how strong this crop turns out to be but the signs are good so far. Busan holds its own Juvenile Championship race on Sunday afternoon. Whoever comes out on top will have to go some to beat Choinma back here in December.

Gwacheon Governor’s Cup – Seoul Racecourse – 1200M – October 28, 2017

1. Choinma (KOR) [Menifee – Kkumaeul (Curia Regis)] – Choi Bum Hyun – 4.3, 1.3
2. Sinui Myeongryeong (KOR) [Hansen – Strawberry Rose (Dr Fong)] – Lim Gi Won – 2.2
3. Wonderful Jackpot (KOR) [Ingrandire – Endless Heroine (Oath)] – Kim Yong Geun – 7.0
Distances: 1.75 lengths / 0.75 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Icheon Ssal 5. Fire Wind 6. Okay Queen 7. Hoeng Un Gol 8. Global Line 9. Hae Hu 10. Raon Alice 11. Eagle Sky 12. Dae Cain 13. The Queen Grace 14. Meni Bada