Bally Brae

Bally Brae, Former Horse Of The Year and Grand Prix Winner, Retired Aged 10 As Little Sister Breaks Maiden

Last Saturday at Seoul may hae drawn most attention for a jockey picking up a 6 month ban for a foolish ride, however, amongst the winners of 12 relatively low-key races, there was one notable filly, who broke her maiden at the fifth attempt.

Global Bally [Forest Camp-Political Bluff (Unaccounted For)] took victory in race 3 by a length and a half at odds of 6/1. She is the half-sister of Bally Brae, Korea’s Horse Of The Year in 2006 and Grand Prix Stakes winner in 2007 and her win came one month after the 10-year-old finished 9th in what would be his final ever outing at Seoul Race Park.

Bally Brae and Moon Se Young win the 2007 Grand Prix Stakes (KRA)

The American bred Bally Brae [Yarrow Brae – Political Bluff (Unaccounted For)] is one of a few horses, Subsidy, Luna, Baekgwang, Baekpa who established themselves both as a champion racehorse and as a firm fan-favourite.

Imported in January 2006 after being (so the story goes) spotted in the US by Hong Dae You, then a jockey. His debut, with Hong in the saddle, was a winning one and began a run of four straight wins culminating in triumph in the 2006 Selangor Turf Club Trophy. A pair of Stakes runner-up finishes later and he found himself lining up for the Grand Prix Stakes at the end of the 2006 season. He wouldn’t win, leading most of the way before finishing second to Flying Cat (Western Cat).

It was in 2006 that he began the rivalry for which he will be most remembered. Bally Brae and Subsidy (Mr. Prospector) traded big handicap wins with each other throughout that year and 2007 – Subsidy getting the better of their most memorable battle. It was Bally Brae, however, now with Hong Dae You as trainer and Moon Se Young in the saddle, who claimed the biggest win of his career in the 2007 Grand Prix, with Subsidy four lengths adrift.

Bally Brae would continue to be the top horse on the peninsula in 2008. However, he was being restricted by a high handicap mark and defeat to Dongbanui Gangja (Broken Vow) in that year’s Grand Prix heralded the start of the changing of the guard. Two wins and a second place to start 2009 showed that there was still plenty of life left in the now seven-year old, but an injury then began to cause him problems. Although he recovered quickly, he never quite regained his old speed.

Despite this, he started 2010 with three straight wins. Inevitably this put his handicap mark back up and, over the next two years, while he regularly finished in the money, he would only score one more win. In another symbolic changing of the guard, earlier this year, both he and Dongbanui Gangja finished more than 10 lengths adrift of the new star, Smarty Moonhak (Smarty Jones).

His owners had pledged to retire him if he became uncompetitive and, after running ninth on April 14th, it was announced that he would not race again. Instead, he has been sent to the Korea Horse Affairs High School – a specialist school in Jeolla Province, run by the KRA which, in addition to the standard school curriculum, equips students with the skills they need to go on to work in the racing and equestrian industries. There he will have the status of “Visiting Professor” and, still race fit, will be ridden by the next generation of aspiring jockeys.

Bally Brae and Hong Dae You, first his jockey, then his trainer (KRA)

Bally Brae’s dam, Political Bluff, was imported to Korea in 2007. It is common practice for the KRA to buy the dams of good imported racehorses. the dams of Dongbanui Gangja and Tough Win have both arrived in Korea in recent years.

As for Global Bally, trained by Hong Dae You and ridden by Moon Se Young, she has a long way to go to emulate her big brother. With that first win under her belt though, she is finally on her way.

* Bally Brae’s great rival Subsidy was retired in 2010. Retrained as a riding horse, he sadly died in a paddock accident earlier this year.

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Weekend Preview

Useung Touch Is Back / Jumong Carries Big Weight At Seoul / Grand Niner Bids For Fourth Win

It’s set to be the warmest weekend of the year so far and we’ve got plenty to keep us occupied across the peninsula.

Oaks Winner: Useung Touch is back at Busan this weekend

South African jockey Gerrit Schlechter will make his Busan debut on Friday and has a promising book of rides across the weekend including on Peter Wolsley’s Pnata Rhei (Stormy Atlantic) in Sunday’s feature.

That race sees 2011 Korean Oaks winner Useung Touch (Menifee) make her first appearance of the season while the impressive late developer Quantum (Ecton Park) is among a host of well-known names being dropped back for a a rare chance to race for a big prize over 6 furlongs.

Up at Seoul, there are class 1 tests on both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday’s looks more interesting with top weight Jumong (Johar) heading a reasonably challenging field that includes one-time Grand Prix Stakes runner-up Larrycat (Fantasticat) as well as the now past his best former Grand Prix winner Bally Brae (Yarrow Brae).

On Sunday at Seoul, plenty of eyes will be on US import Grand Niner (Any Given Saturday) who will be bidding to make it four wins from four starts in race 9.

Meanwhile down on Jeju Island, the ponies have one of their biggest races of the year in the shape of the Halla Ilbo Cup on Saturday afternoon.

Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday April 13

Busan Race Park: 10 races from 12:00 to 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 13:30 to 17:30

Saturday April 14

Seoul Race Park: 12 races from 11:00 to 17:40
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 12:20 to 17:10

Sunday April 15

Seoul Race Park: 10 races from 11:00 to 17:40
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:15 to 16:40

Weekend Preview: Weighty Task For Mister Park

Magnifique, Geumbi, Jumong In Action At Seoul / Mai Beppu Returns

Last season, Mister Park (Ecton Park) broke the record for most consecutive wins in Korean racing history. It was a sensational streak of seventeen straight triumphs which only came to an end by the narrowest of margins at the hands of Tough Win in the season-ending Grand Prix Stakes at Seoul in December.

Heavy Task: Mister Park

On Sunday, the now five-year old Mister Park makes his season debut at Busan in Sunday’s feature race. However, if he’s going to get back to winning ways, he’s going to have to carry jockey Akane Yamamoto, as well as a lot of dead-weight, faster than eleven rivals over 1800M.

This year, the maximum weight for allowance races (which include most Stakes races in Korea) has been upped to 62Kg and Mister Park will carry exactly that amount on Sunday. He should still win, but it’s by no means an easy start to his season.

Akane also rides top sprinter Night Moves (Proud Accolade) in Friday’s Busan sprint feature, a race where Peter Wolsley’s Khaosan(Sunday Well) and Pnata Rhei (Stormy Atlantic) as well as Joe Murphy’s Udeumji(Yehudi) will be among a full field looking to beat her.

The pick of the action at Seoul is on Saturday, where the feature sees Jumong (Johar) go up against double-stakes runner-up Geumbi (Ecton Park). Old favourite and former Grand Prix winner Bally Brae (Yarrow Brae), now ten, joins them.

Sunday sees the late developing Magnifique (Menifee) look for his fourth straight win the feature, Singgeureounachim (Exploit) and Andy’s Runner (The Groom Is Red) also helping make up a competitive field of twelve.

In jockey news, Japanese rider Mai Beppu makes her return to action for the first time in 2012, with twelve mounts across the weekend.

After near record low-temperatures in Korea this week, the weekend is looking a looking a little better but it’s still set to be pretty cold. Start and finish times have been adjusted earlier at all three tracks this weekend and there is an extra race at Busan on both Friday and Sunday. Click here for full cards but here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday February 3

Busan Race Park: 11 races from 12:00 to 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 13:30 to 17:30

Saturday February 4

Seoul Race Park: 12 races from 11:00 to 17:20
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 12:20 to 16:40

Sunday February 5

Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:00 to 17:40
Busan Race Park: 8 races from 11:50 to 16:40