Bold Kings

Busan Mayor’s Cup: Runner-By-Runner Preview

The Busan Mayor’s Cup is one of the highlights of the Korean racing season and this year’s event, which will be run at Busan Racecourse over nine furlongs on Sunday, has attracted a strong field.

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Bold Kings beat Gumpo Sky and Clean Up Joy in the Grand Prix last December. The top five that day square off again on Sunday

Sometimes known as the “Summer Grand Prix” all top five place-getters from last December’s actual Grand Prix Stakes at Seoul will be in attendance as will Korea’s best known racehorse, Success Story. Seven of the full field of sixteen have traveled down from Seoul for what looks an intensely competitive race.

Here’s a runner-by-runner preview. All will carry 58kg except for the two mares, last year’s winner Gamdonguibada and Heba who will carry 56kg. (Name [Pedigree] Age Sex (Starts/1st/2nd/3rd) Trainer – Jockey)

Busan Metropolitan City Mayor’s Cup (KOR G3) – Busan Racecourse – 1800M (Weight for Age) – Sunday July 3, 2016 (16:30)

1. Clean Up Cheonha (USA) [El Corredor – Loh Callado (More Than Ready)] 5 H (18/8/6/2) ST Shim – Lee Chan Ho
5th in the Grand Prix and hasn’t raced since winning at 2000M in January. Came through a trial well last month and he will be handy early but he will be the lesser fancied of the two Clean Ups.

2. Gamdonguibada (USA) [Werblin – Radyla (Country Pine)] 7 M (35/15/5/8) YK Kim – Choi Si Dae
Winner of this race last year at a mile, she also won the first leg of the Sprint Series in May before being beaten in the 2nd leg at Seoul last month. As good as ever at 7, she’ll likely settle just behind the early speed  and she has a chance here.

3. Heba (USA) [Peace Rules – Sue’s Temper (Temperence Hill)] 6 M (41/9/7/3) SJ Kwon – Song Keong Yun
Last year’s champion Mare is yet to win in 2016 and has been beaten by Triple Nine on three occasions already. As we say every time she runs, she would perhaps benefit from a spell but always puts in a solid performance and can find the minor money.

4. Damyang Chukje (USA) [Good Reward – Strategy (A.P Indy)] 7 H (33/6/3/4) HJ Bae – Jo Jae Ro
Has lost to a lot of these in recent starts and looks to be overmatched once more here. Generally slow away he will most likely have too much to do.

5. Clean Up Joy (USA) 5 G [Purge – Greta’s Joy (Joyeax Danseur)] (17/9/5/1) ST Shim – Ham Wan Sik
Seoul’s best horse, he is three for three since finishing 3rd in the Grand Prix nehind Bold Kings and Gumpo Sky last December. He usually settles towards the rear of the field and has a strong finish. He can win this.

6. Dongbanjaui Gijeok (USA) [Half Ours – Feisty Cherokee (Cherokee Run)] 6 H (36/5/6/3) BC Lim – Kim Cheol Ho
Big outsider who finds it tough at class 1 at Seoul so will certainly find it tough here.

7. Beolmaui Kkum (USA) 6 H [Put It Back – Wild Dixie Gal (Wild Event)] (26/15/3/2) KY Baik – Kim Yong Geun
Extremely talented but has never quite lived up to it in the big races. Only Clean Up Joy is rated higher.It’s been a long time since he took on this distance, he is a front-runner and he must be considered.

8. Triple Nine (KOR) [Ecton Park – A Little Poke(Pleasant Tap)] 15/9/5/0) YK Kim – You Hyun Myung
The President’s Cup winner at Seoul last year, he was 4th in the Grand Prix Stakes before avenging Bold Kings back at Busan in March. Surprisingly beaten last time at this distance at the end of May, he is a cut above most of these though. He should settle just behind the early speed and if he runs to his best, he won’t be beaten.

9. Space Port (USA) 6 H [Pleasant Tap – Space City (Carson City)] (43/4/10/3) CK Woo – Yoon Tae Hyuk
A perennial runner-up, he beat Winning Andy last time as the pair raced 2nd and 3rd over 2000M in a Seoul Stakes race. This is much harder though and he will be an outsider.

10. Success Story (KOR) [Peace Rules – Power Pack (Lil’s Lad)} 5 H (19/10/2/3) JK Min – Paolo Aragoni
Two 3rd places at the Dubai World Cup Carnival gained him international recognition but he struggled on his return to Korea behind Gamdonguibada in May. Got a bad start that day, he needs to be on pace early and then save energy. If he can do that, he must be considered.

11. Winning Andy (USA) [Cowboy Cal – Belvedere Miss (Pleasant Colony)] 5 H (31/4/7/6) IS Seo – Jo Sung Gon
Busan’s 2015 champion jockey makes a rare return to the south-coast but it’s unlikely to be a winning one. Solid competitor who can give a decent account of himself but looks overmatched here. Goes right back at the start.

12. Rush Forth (USA) [Rush Bay – Fourth Quest (Norquest)] 6 G (30/5/4/6) DY Hong – Kim Ok Sung
Returned to some semblance of form with a 3rd place over 1200M at the end of May but little to suggest he can be competitive here.

13. Dynamic Dash (USA) [Pleasantly Perfect – See Rock City (Tapit)] 4 C (18/9/5/1) BH Kim – Lee Hee Cheon
He comes in off the back of two superb wins over 1800M beating first Gamdonguibada and then Bold Kings. He was able to come from just off the early pace and lead rounding the home turn both times which won’t be so easy in this crowded field but he’s on the up and is to be respected.

14. Gumpo Sky (KOR) [Vicar – Perfect Storm (Didyme)] 5 H (30/10/8/4) SJ Kwon – Lim Sung Sil
He was 2nd to Bold Kings in the Grand Prix but was indifferent in his first three outings this year, losing to six of these in the process. He returned to winning ways last month, beating a small field at this distance. He will be on the early speed as usual.

15. Macheon Bolt (KOR) [Old Fashioned – Beech Bag (Devil’s Bag)] 4 G (12/8/7/1) PM Wolsley – Chae Sang Hyun
This stablemate of Bold Kings has eight wins from twelve including two at class 1. He goes around two turns for the first time, has plenty of potential and could challenge.

16. Bold Kings (USA) [Afleet Express – Bold Arrival (Gilded Time)] 4 C (9/7/1/0) PM Wolsley – Ikuyasu Kurakane
Winner of the Grand Prix Stakes last December after which he was seven for seven. He hasn’t managed to follow up so far this year beaing beaten twice, first by Triple Nine and then by Dynamic DashThe outisde gate didn’t help him last time and probably won’t here eitherbut he looked sharp in a trial last week and can’t be ruled out

Clean Up Joy & Dynamic Dash Take Seoul & Busan Features

Clean Up Joy confirmed his status as Seoul’s top horse with victory in the capital’s Sunday feature but at Busan, Grand Prix Stakes winner Bold Kings suffered a second successive defeat as Dynamic Dash claimed the win in the big handicap.

Making his first start for trainer Shim Seung Tae, Clean Up Joy was sent off the odds-on favourite for his third start of 2016, having already won class 1 events at 1200M and 1800M. At the latter distance once more and under jockey Ham Wan Sik, he saw off the challenges of Hwanggeum Tap and Bichui Wangja to take a comfortable victory.

Clean Up Joy is one of the main home-based hopes for the Korea Cup International Day in September. He came 3rd in last year’s Grand Prix Stakes but the winner of that race, Bold Kings, remains winless for 2016 as Dynamic Dash added another victory to his recent impressive run. Under jockey Lim Sung Sil, Dynamic Dash beat the up in class and full of potential Tongil Sidae in a good final furlong battle

Bold Kings was sent off as the favourite but in a race with plenty of early front-runners, wasn’t able to dictate terms from the outside gate and scarcely looked like mounting a challenge, eventually finishing in 4th, a full nine-lengths behind the winner and runner-up.

This coming Sunday, all eyes are on Seoul for the big one; the 2016 Korean Derby.

Pinot Noir Easily Wins Gyeonggi Governor’s / Triple Nine Beats Bold Kings

In a near repeat of February’s Donga Ilbo Cup, Pinot Noir dominated the Group 3 Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday.

Last month’s Donga had been run in a snowstorm but while the weather was very different at a sun-bathed Seoul, the result was exactly the same. Sent off as the hot favourite ahead of the other seven who raced in the Donga – as well as three less than stellar others – Pinot Noir hit the front as they began to turn for home and raced on for an easy victory.

The always game X File came home in 2nd with Smart Time in 3rd. The mismatch, coming so soon after the Donga, wasn’t a great advert for Stakes racing – the inevitable result of extra big money races for fillies and mares in order to encourage owners to buy them but as yet there not being much depth of talent, especially at Seoul. Hopefully Pinot Noir will face tougher challenges in the Queens’ Tour races later this year.

Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup (KOR G3) – Seoul Racecourse – 2000M – March 27, 2016

1. Pinot Noir (KOR) [Capital Spending – Neungnyeokchungman] – Park Eul Woon – 1.3, 1.1
2. X File (KOR) [Exploit – Dorothy Dee]- Kim Dong Soo – 1.7
3. Smart Time (KOR) [Ft. Stockton – Charon] – Djordje Perovic – 1.6
Distances: 2.5 lengths / Neck
Also Ran: 4. Lucky Music 5. Meni Money 6. Pureun Geotap 7. Argo Asset 8. Space Shuttle 9. Punggwae 10. Shine clover 11. Queen’s Win

At Busan, Grand Prix Stakes winner Bold Kings suffered the first defeat of his career on what was his eighth start. Under Kim Yong Geun, Bold Kings was beaten by President’s Cup winner Triple Nine by a length with Gumpo Sky just a nose back in 3rd.

Class 1 Handicap – Busan Racecourse – 2000M / March 27, 2016

1. Triple Nine (KOR) [Ecton Park – A Little Poke] – You Hyun Myung – 2.0, 1.1
2. Bold Kings (USA) [Afleet Express – Bold Arrival] – Kim Yong Geun – 1.2
3. Gumpo Sky (KOR) [Vicar – Perfect Storm] – Seo Seung Un – 1.8
Distances: 1.25 lengths / Nose
Also Ran: 4. Heba 5. Cheonji Bulpae 6. Viva Ace 7.Forest Bold 8. Nobody Catch Me

Next week, the three-year-olds take centre-stage with the first leg of the Triple Crown, the KRA Cup Mile, at Busan.

Full Sunday Preview: Bold Kings v Triple Nine, Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup

It’s a big Sunday of racing in Korea. Pinot Noir heads the field for the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup at Seoul but the most interesting race of the day is in Busan where Grand Prix winner Bold Kings takes on President’s Cup winner Triple Nine and also Gumpo Sky in a real class 1 test.

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Bold Kings beat Gumpo Sky by a neck in the Grand Prix. They face off again, with Triple Nine also in attendance, on Sunday

The first race at Seoul is at 10:50am and the first at Busan at 1pm. 12 races will be simulcast to Singapore and Malaysia while Seoul races 7, 8 and 9 will be shown in Australia on Sky Racing 2.

English language racecards are here. Notes on all simulcast races are below (we spent most of Friday dodging winners so treat with caution):

Busan Race 1: Class 5 / 1200M / Handicap / KRW 40 Million / 13:00 

(6) ILMANGMUJE got back to back wins in December and January and following a creditable 3rd place last time, can get back to winning ways today. She’ll likely come from just off the pace along with (5) QUICK FORCE, how has two 2nds and two 3rds from four starts to date and can go close again. Up front early will be (8) ACE POWER and (3) BLUE STORM, both of whom have claims although on Friday it wasn’t easy for horses to lead all the way. Next best is (7) MAJOR WINNER.

Favourites: (6) Ilmangmuje (5) Quick Force (8) Ace Power (3) Blue Storm
Next Best: 7, 2, 4, 9
Remainder: 1, 10
Fast Starters: 3, 4, 8, 9

Seoul Race 5: Class 5 / 1400M / Handicap / KRW 40 Million / 13:20 

Big field and a competitive one too (2) JISANG BIHAENG just gets the nod over (11) SUSEONG CAPTAIN; both come in following 2nd place finishes at this class with the former having done it at this distance. Both will go forward early and both have claims. (5) BEST TAKER drops back in distance after a decent 4th at 1700M last month and can go well while both (9) GWASOK DOLPUNG and (13) FLY WING can be given further chances after slightly disappointing recent starts. (10) KKUMDONGNE, who beat Gasok Dolpung when winning at class and distance in December, may also be considered.

Favourites: (2) Jisang Bihaeng (11) Suseong Captain (5) Best Taker (9) Gwasok Dolpung
Next Best: 10, 3, 13, 1, 6, 8
Remainder: 4, 7, 12, 14
Fast Starters: 2, 3, 11

Busan Race 2: Class 5 / 1400M / Handicap / KRW 40 Million / 13:40 

(14) DAMYANG JANGGUN is up in class and distance following a maiden win at the fifth time of asking last month and he is more than capable of following up here. (11) FOUR STAR actually beat Damyang Janggun when recording his own maiden win in January. He went on to run 3rd behind (3) GARAK GONGWON at this distance on his first try at class 5. Garak Gongwon followed up with another 2nd place and both must be considered here. (6) DAEHANUIMYEONGSEONG returned from a six-month spell with a very solid run over 1300M three weeks ago and can show more progress here. (4) WISH ME LUCK hasn’t excelled in two starts at this class since winning on his debut but gets another chance while (7) PEACE BERY and (10) POWER CUPS are among a number of others not to be overlooked in a really competitive race.

Favourites: (14) Damyang Janggun (3) Garak Gongwon (6) Daehanuimyeongseong (11) Four Star
Next Best: 4, 7, 12, 1, 10, 2, 5
Remainder: 8, 9, 13
Fast Starters: 6, 7, 12, 14

Seoul Race 6: Class 4 / 1200M / Handicap / KRW 60 Million / 14:05

Banker favourite of the day here in the shape of (2) SUPER BROAD. A Korean bred taking on mild imported opposition – who only have one win between them – and a really good winner last time, he’ll come from just off the early pace and it is hard to see him getting beaten. Those with the best chance of pulling off a surprise are (4) PRO MATHEUS, who has shown some glimpses in three starts to date and (5) DALLYEORA GANGJEOK, who has won plenty of money but never finished any better than 3rd. (1) CHIEF DRESSEL and (10) MADURYEONG are others who will be expecting to finish in the money.

Favourites: (2) Super Broad (4) Pro Matheus (5) Dallyeora Gangjeok (1) Chief Dressel
Next Best: 10, 8, 9, 7
Remainder: 3, 6, 11, 12, 13, 14
Fast Starters: 3, 10, 12

Busan Race 3: Class 4 / 1300M / Handicap / KRW 55 Million / 14:30

From Kim Young Kwan’s stable, (13) MATCH POWER makes his racecourse debut here having won a trial in good fashion last month. The Cowboy Cal colt will be expected to go very well. The main obstacle to his securing a debut victory is (9) WORLD QUEEN, a very reliable filly who will be on pace early and won’t let many past here. (12) ILLYUCHEON looks to have a win in her at some point and beat (11) BUYEONG TOWER as the pair raced 3rd and 4th over 1200M last month. (3) SEUNGNI PARK and the up in class (4) GOOD TOUCH are the others with claims.

Favourites: (13) Match Power (9) World Queen (12) Illyucheon (4) Good Touch
Next Best: 11, 3, 5, 7,
Remainder: 1, 2, 6, 8, 10, 14
Fast Starters: 6, 9, 11, 12

Seoul Race 7: Class 4 / 1400M / Handicap / KRW 60 Million / 14:55

(3) GANGSEONG DAEGUK, a winner at domestic class 4 and 2nd in a similar race at the end of last month is the pick to claim this competitive affair. He’ll look to lead all the way. (2) BALIOS QUEEN and (7) BEONGAE BIHO both enter following decent 2nd places last time, the latter defeating (11) NEW VETERAN who can also be expected to go well here. (6) PYEONGCHONYEONGUNG has a pair of 2nd places among four previous outings and will surely get a win at some stage. He can come close here. (14) RAON TROY was disappointing last time out but can be given another chance here.

Favourites: (3) Gangseong Daeguk (7) Beongae Biho (6) Pyeongchonyeongung (2) Balios Queen
Next Best: 11, 14, 5, 1, 4
Remainder: 8, 9, 10, 12, 13
Fast Starters: 3, 5, 14

Seoul Race 8: Class 2 / 1800M / Handicap / KRW 90 Million / 15:45

Much more competitive but the verdict goes the way of (10) SUN STRONG who has beaten (1) SUPER TANK over this distance before. The latter went on to pick up an 1800M victory of his own and is the main danger. Those two will look to come from off the pace, a pace that could be set by (2) GOLD MOUNTAIN and (6) ILJIN HWARANG, both of whom are capable of staying on. (8) CHASING DOLLARS is reunited with jockey Lee Chan Ho, who has gone well on him in the past and should be competitive here.

Favourites: (10) Sun Strong (1) Super Tank (8) Chasing Dollars (2) Gold Mountain
Next Best: 6, 4, 7, 5
Remainder: 3, 9
Fast Starters: 2, 3, 6

Busan Race 5: Class 2 / 1600M / Handicap / KRW 88 Million / 16:10

Very open race and (1) HEUKGANGJA makes a quick return following a good 3rd place at a mile two weeks ago and likely to be among the favourites here. (9) MAGIC PARK actually beat Heukgangja over 1800M last month and will have backers to repeat while (3) MEDA GLORIA is up in class following one too many near misses at class 3. She may struggle to win here but should be close. (4) DREAM TOWER and (14) PROFESSOR SILVER raced 4th and 5th at 1900M last month and both can go well here. The wildcard is (11) SUMMIT MYEONGUN. One of the most highly thought-of three-year-olds at the beginning of last season, he hasn’t raced since the KRA Cup Mile almost exactly a year ago. He’s been gelded and came through a barrier trial very nicely earlier this month.

Favourites: (1) Heukgangja (9) Magic Park (11) Summit Myeongun (14) Professor Silver
Next Best: 3, 4, 5, 13
Remainder: 2, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12
Fast Starters: 1, 4, 9

Seoul Race 9: Class Open – The Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup (KOR G3) – 2000M / Allowance / KRW 300 Million / 16:40

This is practically a rerun of the Donga Ilbo Cup, which took place over 1800M on February 28th. All eight fillies & mares who too part that day line up again and with (6) PINOT NOIR having won that race by a full nine-lengths, there aren’t too many reasons to oppose her today. She will go back early and look to hit the front entering the home straight. The other market leaders are likely to be the ones who chased her home forlornly. (1) SMART TIME was 2nd, (3) X FILE was 3rd and (9) MENI MONEY was 4th. Also expected to go ok is (10) LUCKY MUSIC while among the three who didn’t go in the Donga Ilbo, (2) SHINE CLOVER perhaps has the best chance of an upset. But not much.

Favourites: (6) Pinot Noir (10) Lucky Music (9) Meni Money (1) Smart Time
Next Best: 3, 2, 8, 11
Remainder: 4, 5, 7
Fast Starters: 2, 7

Busan Race 6: Class 1 / 2000M / Handicap / KRW 105 Million / 17:05 

The big money may have been in the previous event at Seoul but this is undoubtedly the race of the day. Grand Prix Stakes winner (1) BOLD KINGS makes his eagerly awaited four-year-old debut. He’s seven for seven but faces President’s Cup winner (7) TRIPLE NINE over the latter’s preferred distance of 2000M. It could go either way but Bold Kings has raised himself on every occasion so far and there’s no reason why he can’t do it again. It’s set to be a terrific contest. (3) HEBA ran Triple Nine very close last month and can’t be ruled out and while (5) GUMPO SKY could only manage 5th in that race, he was only beaten a neck in the Grand Prix and will surely give a good account of himself. He and Bold Kings will lead, Triple Nine will come from just behind. The evergreen (4) VIVA ACE can never be ruled out of the money.

Favourites: (1) Bold Kings (7) Triple Nine (5) Gumpo Sky (3) Heba
Next Best: 4, 2
Remainder: 6, 8
Fast Starters: 1, 5

Seoul Race 10: Class 3 / 1800M / Handicap / KRW 75 Million / 17:30 

After the likely fireworks in the previous contest, this is rather more run of the mill. (1) GWANGBOK CHILSIP is favoured to get back to winning ways over this modest class 3 field. (7) BIG MOUNTAIN and (8) JANGSAN TAEYANG provide the sternest competition for the three-year-old while (2) READ AGAIN and (3) HWANGGEUM GASOK can’t be ruled out. However, the most likely outcome is Gwangbok Chilsip leading from gate to wire.

Favourites: (1) Gwangbok Chilsip (7) Big Mountain (8) Jangsan Taeyang (3) Hwanggeum Gasok
Next Best: 2, 6
Remainder: 4, 5, 9
Fast Starters: 1, 6, 9

Seoul Race 11: Class 4 / 1200M / Handicap / KRW 60 Million / 18:00

Really nice contest to finish with which sees four up and coming fillies taking each other on. (2) DONGHAE CHEONHA is unbeaten in two starts and was a dominating winner over this distance at the end of last month. (1) KATIE STAR has been beaten, at this distance at the end of January, but was impressive over 1000M three weeks ago and has very solid claims. The third filly is (6) JEWELRY PARK, an eye-catching six-length winner last month. (7) BEYOND LIMIT won three of her first four and while she has struggled a bit in her most recent two, can get back in form here especially if the others go too fast early. Aside from those it is a slightly older filly, (5) BIHOBARAM who looks next best while (8) SSONSALGACHI and (13) MUHANDOMA can also go well.

Favourites: (1) Katie Star (6) Jewelry Park (2) Donghae Cheonha (7) Beyond Limit
Next Best: 5, 8, 13, 4
Remainder: 3, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14
Fast Starters: 1, 2, 5, 6

2015 Review: Horse/Jockey/Trainer Of The Year

This is the first of a few year-end posts over the next week. We’ll look at breeding, betting, and the foreign jockeys and trainers, as well as racing in general. We’ll start with the honours though and while there are many ways to to do Horse Of The Year, the bottom line is, it’s my blog, so it’s my choice! Keeping it simple this year so just nine categories and in all honesty, there are standouts in each one.

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Bold Kings wins the Grand Prix (Pic: KRA)

Keeping it simple this year so just seven categories and to be honest, there are standouts in each one this year.

2yo Colt: Power Blade (KOR) [Menifee – Cheonmacheong (Lost Mountain)]
2yo Filly: Ottug Ottugi (KOR) [Forest Camp – Main Objective (Lion Heart)]

The winner of the Breeders’ Cup race generally takes this and Power Blade heads into 2016 the early favourite for the 2016 Triple Crown races. He was 2nd to Ottug Ottugi in the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup – that win making his stablemate the obvious choice to win the filly category – but has since overcome her twice. Honourable mentions for OS Hwadap, a US import who remains unbeaten after four races and Waikiki, who won the Gwacheon Governor’s Cup. Banjaui Jewang, 2nd in the Breeders’ Cup, may turn out to be better than all of them but at the moment Power Blade is top of his crop.

3yo Colt: Bold Kings (USA) [Afleet Express – Bold Arrival (Gilded Time)]
3yo Filly: Meni Money (KOR) [Menifee – Pocketful Of Money (Running Stag)]

Any three-year-old who wins the President’s Cup would usually automatically win this but not Triple Nine this year. The reason is that Bold Kings has done everything he has been asked of. Seven runs and seven wins culminating in victory in the Grand Prix Stakes, Korea’s biggest race, makes it his. Triple Nine is obviously the runner-up while honorable mentions go to Korean Derby winner Yeongcheon Ace and Minister’s Cup winner Rock Band. Also a word too for Cheongu. 3rd in the Asia Challenge Cup, he also represented Korea in Singapore and Japan and is currently in Dubai preparing for the World Cup Carnical.

It’s not been a great year on the filly side. Jangpung Parang won the Oaks but it was her only victory of the year. Instead, the honour goes to Meni Money, 2nd in the Oaks and Nonghyup Chairman’s Stakes but winner of five of her nine starts in 2015 including the Sports Chosun Cup.

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Choegang Schiller and Lee Chan Ho win the Asia Challenge Cup (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Older Horse: Choegang Schiller (USA) [Artie Schiller – Changeable (Miswaki)]
Older Filly/Mare: Heba (USA) [Peace Rules – Sue’s Temper (Temperence Hill)]

Choegang Schiller provided the standout moment of summer, claiming victory for Korea in the Asia Challenge Cup, beating last year’s winner, Singapore’s El Padrino into 2nd. That alone is enough to make him our older horse of the year. On the same day, Chief Red Can won the KRA Cup Classic while honourable mention goes to Gumpo Sky, 2nd in the Grand Prix.

While Gamdonguibada won the Busan Mayor’s Cup at the beginning of July, it was Heba who succeeded her as Queens’ Tour Champion, winning the KNN Cup and Governor’s Cup in the autumn.

Horse of the Year: Bold Kings (USA) [Afleet Express – Bold Arrival (Gilded Time)]

It is sadly all too rare for us in Korea to witness a truly gripping race but this year’s Grand Prix delivered. The battle between Bold Kings and Gumpo Sky in the home straight while Clean Up Joy and Triple Nine desperately tried to close, was pure thoroughbred racing drama at its best. With jockeys Jo Sung Gon and Ikuyasu Kurakane both producing arguably the rides of their careers, in the end Bold Kings simply refused to be beaten. Flat-out, the will to win he demonstrated that day makes Bold Kings the Horse Racing in Korea Horse of the Year for 2016. What a prospect he is for 2016.

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Jockey Of The Year – if not haircut of the year – Moon Se Young (Pic: Hiromi Kobayashi)

Jockey Of The Year: Moon Se Young

Jo Sung Gon breaking the 100 winner barrier for a year at Busan coupled with his Grand Prix win on Bold Kings was impressive but Moon Se Young is once again jockey of the year. His 147 winners across the season, very nearly double the next best, with a win percentage of 25% makes Moon the standard Korean jockeys aspire to. He needs rivals; Djordje Perovic’s arrival in Korea has given trainers another first class option. Jo Sung Gon himself relocating to the capital and up and comer Lee Chan Ho continuing to get on better horses promises to give the Champion jockey a whole new challenge in 2016. Expect him to rise to it.

Trainer Of The Year: Kim Young Kwan

Another boring choice. It was tempting to give this to Peter Wolsley for Bold Kings but the Stable 19 Machine at Busan continues to suck in all the talent and churn out winner after winner. This year Kim Young Kwan completed the career “Grand Slam” – training the winner of every Korean group race at least once – and once more dominated the Busan Trainers’ Championship.

Brilliant Bold Kings Reigns Supreme In Grand Prix

Bold Kings maintained his unbeaten record after getting the best of a thrilling stretch duel with Gumpo Sky to win the most prestigious race on the Korean calendar, the Grand Prix Stakes, at Seoul Racecourse this afternoon.

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Bold Kings and Jo Sung Gon in the Grand Prix winner’s circle

Trained by Australian Peter Wolsley and ridden by Jo Sung Gon, Bold Kings was sent off the third choice in the betting market with President’s Cup winner Triple Nine the clear favourite.

Gamdonguibada, winner of this race in 2012, would set the early pace and she was joined up front, as expected, by Gumpo Sky, a 40/1 outsider. Bold Kings was in close attendance throughout as was Triple Nine.

As they turned into the home straight, Gamdonguibada weakened but Gumpo Sky kept on going and going. On the rail, Bold Kings got his nose in front and while Gumpo Sky gave no quarter and Clean Up Joy, Triple Nine and Clean Up Cheonha started to press down the outside, Bold Kings simply would not get beaten.

The distance between the winner and the runner-up would be a neck throughout the final furlong. As good as the ride was by Jo Sung Gon, his horse gave everything to win in what was a proper horse race. Bold Kings was not letting anything best him today.

So it had been all year. Bold Kings was a $14,000 purchase at Fasig Tipton’s Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale in 2013 and arrived in Korea in Spring 2014. He didn’t make his debut until this March and arrived here today with just six starts behind him. He had won them all, including a trial for this race last month stretch run in which a similarly battling performance in the home straight, served as a preview for today.

Gumpo Sky was immense in 2nd place and the rest of them, even Triple Nine in 4th, lost nothing in defeat.

For Jo Sung Gon it was a first Grand Prix winner as it was too for Peter Wolsley. The Australian trainer recently marked eight years in Korea and while he won the Minister’s Cup last year with Never Seen Before, this is his greatest triumph. He goes into 2016 with the hottest property in Korean racing in his stable.

Grand Prix Stakes (KOR G1) – Seoul Racecourse – 2300M – Dec 13, 2015

1. Bold Kings (USA) [Afleet Express – Gilded Time (Bold Arrival)] – Jo Sung Gon – 6.6, 2.8
2. Gumpo Sky (KOR) [Vicar – Perfect Storm (Didyme)] – Ikuyasu Kurakane – 7.7
3. Clean Up Joy (USA) [Purge – Greta’s Joy (Joyeux Danseur)] – Ham Wan Sik – 1.4
Distances: Neck / 0.5 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Triple Nine (KOR) 5. Clean Up Cheonha (USA) 6. Chief Red Can (USA) 7. Heba (USA) 8. Cheonjae Bogo (NZ) 9. Gamdonguibada (USA) 10. Nobody Catch Me (USA) 11. Gandai (KOR) 12. Sotong SIdae (KOR) 13. Cinderella Man (KOR) 14. Damyang Chukje (USA) 15. Goji Jeongbeol (USA) 16. Unbeatable (USA)

Winning Owner/Trainer: Lim Yong Keun/Peter Wolsley

Weekend Round-Up: Cinderella Man & Bold Kings Star

Cinderella Man charged back into the winner’s circle at Seoul while Bold Kings maintained his 100% record at Busan as the pair emerged victorious from Sunday’s two Grand Prix Stakes trials.

Cinderella Man had run just twice in the capital since his ownership transferred from Pegasus Stables to Ruairi O’Coilean and he joined the stable of Seoul’s fast emerging trainer Lee Shin Young. The first of those was the KRA Cup Classic when questionable riding tactics scuppered his chances but he looked sharp when running 2nd last month over 2000M

He had to battle on Sunday when racing over the Grand Prix distance for the first time but once he had finally managed to get past long time leader Hwanggeum Tap in the final furlong, Cinderella Man ran on for victory by just over a length under champion jockey Moon Se Young. It was Cinderella Man’s 10th win from 17 career starts.

Class 1 Handicap – Seoul Racecourse – 2300M – Nov 9, 2015

1. Cinderella Man (KOR) [Southern Image – Tiza Fast Kat (Tiznow)] – Moon Se Young – 2.7, 1.3
2. Hwanggeum Tap (USA) [Tiz Wonderful – La Tulipe (Silver Deputy)] – Lee Sang Hyeok – 3.4
3. Winning Andy (USA) [Cowboy Cal – Belvedere Miss (Pleasant Colony)] – Djordje Perovic – 1.5
Distances: 1.5 lengths/1.5 lengths – 9 ran

At Busan, three-year-old US import Bold Kings confirmed his status as one of the hottest emerging talents in Korean racing. He too had to battle in the 2200M class 1 event but under Jo Sung Gon, he finally got the better of Goji Jeongbeol by a head after the two dueled for the final furlong. Bold Kings is now six for six.

The Grand Prix at Seoul next month would be a big ask for both of them. Bold Kings is three, has only run six times and is yet to travel to race. Cinderella Man, while reasonably conservatively campaigned this year (he has run eight times) did suffer setbacks over the summer. Their presence though would be a huge boost for the race.

Class 1 Handicap – Busan Racecourse – 2200M – Nov 8, 2015

1. Bold Kings (USA) [Afleet Express – Bold Arrival (Gilded Time)] – Jo Sung Gon – 2.5, 1.3
2. Goji Jeongbeol (USA) [Congrats – I Love CIndy (Adonis)] – Ikuyasu Kurakane – 1.5
3. Gandai (KOR) [ Don’t Get Mad – Gamble To Victory (Prospector’s Gamble)] – Song Keong Yun – 2.7
Distances: Head / 2.5 lengths – 8 ran

Bold Kings was ridden for the first time by Jo Sung Gon as regular rider Kim Yong Geun was riding Nobody Catch Me for Kim Young Kwan. It may be a good thing that he won’t be going to the Tokyo Daishoten and he probably won’t be going to the Grand Prix either as he faded to a well-beaten 6th having shown prominently early in the race.

Trainer Kim will still have plenty of options for the season-ending showpiece – which once again will be available to European punters through the PMU – with three-year-olds Rock Band and Triple Nine among them.

On a weekend when it rained practically non-stop and the track at times resembled more a rowing lake than a racecourse, the pari-mutuel system decided that it was as wet and fed-up as everybody else and packed up immediate following race 3 at Seoul. It was a good 40 minutes before it could be coaxed into life again and that meant the abandonment of race 4. It’s not the first time it’s happened.

Jockey of the weekend was once more Djordje Perovic who rode another treble on Saturday and a further winner on Sunday. Jockey of the weekend wasn’t Nicola Pinna who while finally making his debut on Saturday, had to get off two later mounts – one of which Perovic won on.

Jockey of the weekend wasn’t Kim Hye Sun either. She will be having nightmares over getting Saetbyeori beaten in Saturday’s race 4 when the race looked won. While it looked to be a total brain freeze rather than anything nefarious (the Stewards adjourned their inquiry), the punters who backed the 10/1 shot won’t have been amused. However, those who were on the favourite that Kim failed to notice closing on her inside until it was too late, wouldn’t have minded at all. The usually reliable Kim was much more vigilant on Sunday with a very good ride on 38/1 shot Beongae Power, who she coaxed home when looking about to be beaten.

In other jockey news, Japanese rider Makoto Okabe debuted at Busan with seven rides across the weekend. He didn’t manage to get a winner but did land two 2nd places and one 3rd. Pasquale Borelli, Ikuyasu Kurakane and Masa Tanaka all did manage to find their way into the winner’s circle though.