Dubai World Cup Carnival

Today & Baengmunbaekdap To Race Each Other At Dubai World Cup Carnival Meeting Thursday

Today and Baengmunbaekdap will both make their Dubai World Cup Carnival debuts on Thursday. The Kim Young-kwan trained pair line up against one another in Race 5 on the Meydan card, a Dirt Handicap over 1600M.

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Today (Pic: Ross Holburt/KRA)

With the Dubai handicapper having assessed both at a mark of 98, Today and Baengmunbaekdap look nicely in, getting 3kg from top weighted Thegreatcollection. Second highest rated in the race is Ambassadorial, who ran 3rd in last September’s Korea Cup in Seoul before ending an also-ran in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita in November.

Godolphin are well represented as usual and their relatively unexposed four-year-old Dubai Icon, a winner of three straight races in the UK last year, can be a danger while Doug Watson’s Midnight Sands has won three in a row at Meydan.

Even in Korea, few could confidently say which of the pair is the better. They last met in the Listed Kookje Shinmun Cup over 1400M at Busan in November when Baengmunbaekdap – a 20/1 chance – ran out the three-length winner ahead of the odds-on favourite Today.

That was Baengmunbaekdap’s most recent start. He ran (a very distant) 2nd to Blue Chipper in the Owners’ Cup at a mile in July but struggled on all three of his trips to Seoul in 2019, albeit at longer distances, including 7th behind Ambassadorial in the Korea Cup. Today rounded out his season by finishing 4th in the Grand Prix Stakes at Seoul in December.

Today began his career as very much a sprinter, winning ten of his first twelve starts and running 3rd in the KRA Trophy at Kranji in Singapore in 2018. Since then he has been up and down the distances with his most recent win being at 2000M last January. He then didn’t race again until September and the Korea Sprint.

Baengmunbaekdap

Baengmunbaekdap (Pic: Ross Holburt/KRA)

Both Baengmunbaekdap and Today are very solid horses and while neither are superstars, they perhaps won’t need to be in order to at least be competitive here. If either one runs to their best, a place finish is a realistic target. Pat Cosgrave, who won on Main Stay for Korea at the Carnival in 2017, as well as partnering both Triple Nine and Power Blade to good finishes, will ride Baengmunbaekdap, while Dane O’Neill will be aboard Today.

As for Blue Chipper, a stablemate of both Today and Baengmunbaekdap, it is hoped that he will return to full work next week following a bout of travel sickness. If things go to plan, The Godolphin Mile is his target, while the Korea Sprint winner also holds an entry for The Riyadh Dirt Sprint, a 1200M race on the undercard of the Saudi Cup.

The race is Race 5, Mina, on Thursday evening’s Carnival card at Meydan with a post time of 20:50 Dubai time (1:50am Friday morning in Korea). See www.emiratesracing.com for more information.

 

Korea’s 2020 Dubai World Cup Carnival Challenge Kicks Off Thursday At Meydan

For the fourth time in five years, Korea will be represented at the Dubai World Cup Carnival. Four horses have travelled to the UAE and Great King will be the first to run as he takes his chance at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday’s opening night.

Great King

Great King, seen here at the 2018 Grand Prix Stakes, will make his Dubai Carnival debut on Thursday (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Blue Chipper heads the Korea-trained contingent, however, the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile 3rd place-getter did not travel so well and is currently behind in his preparation. That leaves Great King, Today and Baengmunbaekdap as likely January runners with Blue Chipper now targeted at a February start to his campaign.

Great King, trained by Thomas Gillespie, will line up on turf for the first time as he tackles the Dubai Racing Club Classic Sponsored by Emirates NBD Wholesale Banking Listed Handicap over 2410M. The race is the last on the card, going to post at 9.25pm local time (2.25am Korea time).

A winner of nine of thirty-four career starts, Great King is an American-bred entire by Majestic Warrior. The six-year-old was in good form in the autumn of 2019, winning consecutive class 1 handicaps over 2000M and 2200M at Busan in September and October. He then rounded out his season with a slightly disappointing 7th of 10 in the Grand Prix Stakes at Seoul in early December before heading straight into pre-export quarantine.

On paper, it looks a very stiff ask for Great King, who not only will be racing on turf for the first time but will also be stretching out to an unfamiliar distance with 2300M the maximum race length in Korea. Not only that but amongh his eleven rivals are several ominous lookng Godolphin contenders such as Lucius Tiberius, Mountain Hunter and Zaman while William Haggas’ Pablo Escobarr also looks a formidable foe.

Great King will though be carrying a lighter weight than he has for a full eighteen months and in Sam Hitchcott, has a jockey with a lot of experience over the Meydan track. Great King is an unpredictable horse at the best of times, capable of following a very strong run with a very flat one – and vice versa. Three years ago eyebrows were raised when Korea-trained Diferent Dimension was entered on the turf in a strong Carnival Handicap. He finished 3rd.

Curtain Closes On Landmark Dubai Carnival

Had we been told before the 2017 Godolphin Mile that Triple Nine would ultimately finish just one place behind pre-race favourite North America, we may have been very excited. Well that’s what ultimately happened. That North America weakened to finish at the back of the main group with Triple Nine, for whom it proved a race too far, many lengths further adrift, might have been disappointing but does nothing to detract from what was a wonderful Carnival from a Korean perspective.

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Triple Nine at the Godolphin Mile (Screengrab from Dubai Racing TV)

Naturally, there are a bucket load of excuses that could be put forward for why Triple Nine didn’t do himself anything like justice (wrong trip, bad draw, muddy track of the type he lost to Beolmaui Kkum on last year, tired after a long campaign and so on and so forth) but it doesn’t really matter. It’s racing. It happens.

As it was, the closest Triple Nine came to a win ay Meydan was his first appearance on January 19th, when he closed strongly but just a little late to run 2nd to Hunting Ground over 2000M. The gutsy Triple Crown winner Power Blade landed consecutive 3rd places over a mile and 1900M before the pair of them both ran 5th in their respective Group races on Super Saturday.

Then, of course, there was Main Stay. He and Seoul Bullet both lined up for the 1200M Dirt Handicap on January 19th and for the first time there was real pressure not only to perform well but to actually win the race. As Dubai Racing TV pointed out as the horses came out onto the track “this race really is the Koreans’ to lose”. Seoul Bullet was slow out of the gate but ran on for 4th but Main Stay made no mistake. The race was won with a furlong to go and Terry Spargo’s “Chalk one up for Korea” call has been played at Seoul & Busan Racecourses every week since.

Seoul Bullet would pull up lame and play no further part in the Carnival as indeed would Main Stay after his second run three weeks later.

While Main Stay gets to go down in the history books, arguably the most significant result was that achieved by Diferent Dimension when he defied odds of 33/1 to come 3rd over a mile on turf on February 11th.

It was the first time for a Korean horse to run on turf at the Carnival and the race was well received back home not only because of the result but also for the way the horses ran tightly together as opposed to the wide margins on dirt. Plans are at an advanced stage for a turf track to be installed alongside the sand one at Seoul Racecourse and if the project is to be successful,  a substantial shift in mindset among horsemen in Korea in going ot be required. Actual proof that a Korea-trained (albeit by an Australian) horse can run well on turf is surely the best way to start that process.

Korea’s runners at this year’s Carnival were made possible by the performance of Success Story last year, his pair of 3rd places giving courage to owners and trainers. The unique nature of the Carnival also makes it ideal for a nation wishing to develop its racing, such as Korea. The horses get to spend a number of months in Dubai as do the grooms and workriders. They get to work alongside local grooms and riders and train alongside horses from all over the world providing an opportunity both to observe and to learn. Top international jockeys ride the horses – this year Ireland’s Pat Cosgrave handled the bulk of riding duties of the Korean string and a fine job he did too, both in work and in the races; his exhausting ride in Power Blade’s second outing standing out.

That regular Carnival races are competitive but not overwhelming also gives encouragement. The most exciting thing now is to see who emerges as a contender to make the trip in 2018.

Korea’s results at the 2017 Dubai World Cup Carnival:

Triple Nine
1/19: 2000M (Dirt) – 2nd
2/9: 2000M (Dirt) – 4th
3/4: 2000M (Dirt – G1) – 5th
3/25: 1600M Godolphin Mile (Dirt – G2) – 11th

Power Blade
1/12: 1600M (Dirt) – 3rd
2/2: 1900M (Dirt) – 3rd
3/4: 1600M (Dirt – G3) – 5th

Main Stay
1/19: 1200M (Dirt) – 1st
2/11: 1200M (Dirt) – 4th

Diferent Dimension
1/12: 1600M (Dirt) – 7th
2/11: 1600M (Turf) – 3rd
2/16: 1600M (Dirt) – 7th

Seoul Bullet
1/19: 1200M (Dirt) – 4th

Triple Nine, Main Stay & Diferent Dimension Run At Meydan This Week

The 2017 Dubai World Cup Carnival is starting to head towards its business end and following Power Blade’s 3rd place in the G2 Al Maktoum Challenge last Thursday, three of the other Korea-trained horses, Triple Nine, Main Stay and Diferent Dimension will line up this week. Triple Nine races on Thursday while Main Stay and Diferent Dimension will go on Saturday.

Triple Nine ran on very nicely for 2nd on his Meydan debut last month and he is likely to be one of the favourites for his race, a 2000M Dirt Handicap which is race 3 on Thursday’s card. There are plenty of dangers though. Mizbah beat Hunting Ground, who himself beat Triple Nine last start, by no fewer than seven and a half lengths on January 5. While he carries an additional 5.5kg on Thursday, he is sure to be dangerous. Godolphin’s Emotionless was a highly thought-of juvenile in the UK in 2015 but only raced twice as a three-year-old. He was 6th on his Meydan debut in the first leg of the Al Maktoum Challenge at a mile and may well have come on for it. Click here for Race Card.

On Saturday Main Stay, who is already a winner at this year’s Carnival, makes his re-appearance. He faces a much tougher assignment this time around though as he takes on two Hong Kong raiders in the shape of Dundonnell and, especially Fabulous One as they begin their preparations for Super Saturday and World Cup Night. The rest of the field offers little to write home about although the Godolphin pair of Comicas and Acolyte, the latter a non-Carnival turf winner at the distance in January may be dangerous while the Sweden-trained duo of Breakdancer and Saving Kenny are unknown quantities. The start is going to be important and attempting to live with the two Sha Tin horses will be the target. Click here for Race Card.

Diferent Dimension is going to do things differently in that he’s going to become the first Korea-trained horse at the Carnival to run on the Turf. He goes in the ultra-competitive Mile handicap. The Peter Wolsley trainee has reportedly taken well to the surface and does have a good draw. He has the toughest ask of all the Korea-trained horses though and a competitive showing will be the goal against a group of horses with some very solid European form amongst them. Click here for Race Card.

In other Dubai news, the Dubai Racing Club has released initial World Cup Day nominations. This nomination stage is free and accordingly, all five of the Korean horses at the Carnival have been nominated for various races, something the Dubai Racing Club noted in their accompanying notes. It remains extremely unlikely that any of them will get into any of the races, however, with a run for one or more of them on Super Saturday considered to be the more realistic goal.