Ecton Blade

Ecton Blade & Franco Da Silva Win The 2018 Korean Derby

Ecton Blade (Ecton Park) won the 2018 Korean Derby at Seoul Racecourse Park on Sunday afternoon.

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Pics by Ross Holburt

How they went:

1.  Ecton Blade – Settled prominently behind Hiddden Champ and had things his own way. Once he struck the front he never looked like being beaten

2. Mask – Really good performance, finishing well down the outside for a fine 2nd. He’ll be a danger in the Minister’s Cup too.

3. Choinma – Made for two Seoul horses in the top three. Raced in midfield and kept to the rail in the straight holding off Divide Wind by a neck.

4. Divide Wind – Began poorly and never looked settled. Clearly considered the second string from his stable despite his KRA Cup Mile win. Jockey – a very good jockey – slightly fortunate to only get a three-day suspension for the incident which saw World Sun cut-off in the home straight.

5. World Sun – Settled at the back as expected but just as in the KRA Cup Mile got a bad trip. Had the door slammed shut by Divide Wind as he was trying to find a run in the home straight. Would never have got to the winner though.

6. Hiddden Champ – Looked very coltish in the parade ring and sweated up badly on the way to the gate. Went to the lead as expected but never looked truly settled and faded when put under pressure.

7. Fire Wind – Close to the pace in the early part of the race but found the competition too stiff at the business end of the race. All being well she should be back for the Oaks.

8. Clean Up Teukgeup – Made little impression throughout.

9. Icheon Ssal – Last all the way around until passing a tiring Let’s Yeongcheon in the closing stages.

10. Let’s Yeongcheon – Tried to keep up early but was under pressure early on and weakened to last before the final furlong.

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Korean Derby Day 2018: Race-By-Race Preview (May 13)

It’s the 2nd leg of the 2018 Korean Triple Crown as 10 horses line up for the 21st running of the Korean Derby at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon. And Divide Wind will join his stablemate Ecton Blade, who he beat by a length to capture the first jewel in the crown, the KRA Cup Mile, as favourite. The big race is the highlight of an 11-race card at Seoul from 10:45 to 18:00 which also includes the ARF Commemorative Race, to mark the opening of the 37th Asian Racing Conference. There are also 6 races at Busan from 12:40 to 17:05.

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Divide Wind won the KRA Cup Mile. Can he add the 2nd leg of the 2018 Triple Crown? (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Divide Wind and Ecton Blade have been joined on the trip to Seoul by World Sun and Hiddden Champ. World Sun was a fast finishing 3rd in the Cup Mile and could challenge the two favourites here. As for Seoul, the challenge is led by Mask, who also ran well in the Mile for 4th and an upset is not impossible. Here is the race-by-race preview of all 17 Derby Day races at both Seoul & Busan with horse-by-horse comments for the ARF and Derby races?

Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(1) SEUNGRI PLUS will be strong favourite to score here, having been getting progressively closer across his latest outings. He was 2nd to a good winner at this distance last time on April 7th and should have too much today. (4) MAIN RACER has shown some ability across three starts so far and can build on the 5th he managed last time while (5) RAON OPTIMUS enters after back to back 4th place finishes and should be looking to at least match here. (6) BARAM KING and (8) MAJJABEUN SON are others who can be considered.

Selections (1) Seungri Plus (6) Baram King (4) Main Racer (8) Majjabeun Son
Next Best 5, 3
Fast Start 1, 4, 9

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

(7) BLACK SPIRIT was an improved 3rd at 1300M on her last start at the beginning of March and returns here after a couple of months off with solid claims. She can come from just off the pace and finish strongly. (8) SANTOS showed prominently before weakening over 1300M two weeks ago. He drops back slightly in trip here and may benefit. (2) CLEAN FLOWER showed some signs of life with 5th place at 1300M last time and gets Manoel Nunes on board today. (6) ARGO UNIQUE and (11) DONGBANG JIJU are others with potential to improve on recent outings.

Selections (7) Black Spirit (8) Santos (2) Clean Flower (11) Dongbang Jiju
Next Best 6, 1
Fast Start 8, 9, 10, 11

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

(8) MACHA BUCHA ran a close 2nd at class and distance on April 7th having been prominent throughout and leading briefly close to home. He can go one better this time. (2) BOLD NINER comes in following back to back 4th place finishes at this distance and at 1200M and surely comes close again while (12) LEAD UP can overcome the widest draw to get close to the pace early and can match the 3rd she managed last tie. (4) EVER A ONE beat Macha Bucha at the distance two starts ago and while he didn’t go well at 1300M on reappearance last month, can be given another chance today. (9) STIRLING returns to action after a three-month absence and can be considered too.

Selections (8) Macha Bucha (2) Bold Niner (4) Ever A One (12) Lead Up
Next Best 9, 7, 1
Fast Start 8, 9, 12

Seoul Race 4: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(8) L CAR romped home to easily win his second start on April 14th. It was at 1000M, so he is up in both class and distance today, but he could well have enough to prevail again. (3) EAGLE SKY could be the one to beat though. He improved significantly last start on April 15th when ridden by Johan Victoire for the first time, just beaten half a length at this distance and looks set to go well here. (7) EUMAK DAEJANG beat a couple of these on his way to 3rd at 1300M on April 14th and should have the beating of plenty once more. One of those behind him that day was (1) REBECCA and the slight drop in trip may benefit her today. (9) SPECIAL LIGHT ran 4th in a solid race at 1300M last month and is another to consider. He usually comes from well off the pace so will need things to set up just right for him. (4) CHEON MONG is up in class after a somewhat unexpected win at 1300M and while he perhaps has a bit more to find, shouldn’t be ruled out completely.

Selections (3) Eagle Sky (8) L Car (9) Special Light (1) Rebecca
Next Best 4, 7
Fast Start 1, 4, 7

Busan Race 1: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(7) HOTHAE is up in class following a convincing win over this distance on April 13th. He made all that day and could well do so again here. It won’t be easy. (3) HANGIL too steps up following her maiden win which came at the fourth time of asking. Her triumph was over 1000M, so she faces an increase in distance as well but should be able to cope with it. (5) GEUJIKOJI had a hard time at a mile last time but should be more comfortable dropped back today. (1) BLUE DANCER defied her odds to run a good 2nd at class and distance three weeks ago and will not more respect here. (9) SWEET MEMORY steps up in trip after a 3rd and a 4th behind some useful ones in her latest two and can come under consideration.

Selections (7) Hothae (3) Hangil (9) Sweet Memory (1) Blue Dancer
Next Best 5, 4
Fast Start 1, 3, 7, 9

Seoul Race 5: Class 4 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million

(1) JANGSAN WILD has won two from three so far and is up in both class and distance today. He had to work for his win last time but looks to have scope for more improvement and he’s the one they’ll need to beat today. He had to battle last time though and if the additional furlong is a concern then (6) DAESEUNG BIBEOB is the one to turn to. He drops back in trip after some good efforts around two turns and will surely run on strongly. (7) TEUKBYEOL STAR still somehow remains a maiden. She’s a good filly and rarely misses the money but can’t quite make the breakthrough. That will probably be the case again, but she’ll be firmly in the placing hunt. (5) FINE CHAMP and (10) SPEED CHEONGNYONG, the latter up in class, both enter in good form and should also be involved.

Selections (1) Jangsan Wild (6) Daeseung Bibeob (7) Teukbyeol Star (10) Speed Cheongnyong
Next Best 5, 4
Fast Start 1, 2, 9

Busan Race 2:  Class 4 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million

(9) MAKGANG BOLT has won his latest two in decent fashion, his latest at this class. He’s a front-runner and with an apprentice keeping his carried weight nice and low, he has every chance of making it three in a row. (2) YUKRYONGI ran poorly when favourite last time out four weeks ago but had been showing enough prior to that to suggest he’s worth another chance today and he should be a threat. (11) QUEEN THE QUEEN is up in class following back to back runner-up finishes, both at this distance. She’s never been worse than 3rd and despite the step up in level, she can maintain that record today. (10) CHARTERED DREAM came home 2nd and 5th respectively when they raced each other at (more…)

Divide Wind Roars In To Win KRA Cup Mile

If there is a Korean Triple Crown winner in 2018, then his name is Divide Wind. The Menifee colt beat out stablemate and favourite Ecton Blade to win the first jewel, the KRA Cup Mile at Busan on Sunday afternoon.

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Divide Wind wins the KRA Cup Mile (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Divide Wind entered the race having won his latest three with ease, including the Gyeongnam Shinmun Cup, a trial for this race, a month ago. In the parade ring and on the way to the gate he was the clear standout of the field, ahead of the champion juvenile Ecton Blade, who started to sweat up on what was a chilly Spring afternoon.

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Divide Wind beats Ecton Blade in the Cup Mile (Pic: Ross Holburt)

After the start was delayed to allow Gaon Champ to be backed out of the stalls and checked over, it was Gaon Champ himself who took command early along with previously unbeaten filly Yeongcheon Derby. Their challenges would fade though as Ecton Blade and Divide Wind came into contention at the top of the stretch.

With World Sun also c losing at speed, Divide Wind ended up too strong for Ecton Blade and took the win by three-quarters of a length on the line. Yeongcheon Derby was 3rd while Mask was Seoul’s best finisher in 4th.

It’s yet another big race 1st and 2nd for trainer Kim Young Kwan.

KRA Cup Mile (KOR G2) – Busan Racecourse – 1600M – Sunday April 8, 2018

1. Divide Wind (KOR) [Menifee – Grand Pass (Grand Slam)] – You Hyun Myung – 4.2, 1.3
2. Ecton Blade (KOR) [Ecton Park – Vyng Ty Grr (Regal Intention)] – Lee Hyo Sik – 1.2
3. World Sun (KOR) [Officer – Dancing Desire (Mr. Greeley)] – Lim Sung Sil – 1.8
Distances: 0.75 lengths / 0.75 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Mask 5. Yeongcheon Derby 6. Gaon Champ 7. Mone Flying 8. Yeonggwanguiwinner 9. Yeonggwangui Champ

The 21st Korean Derby, the 2nd leg of the Triple Crown, will be run at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday May 13th as the curtain-raiser to the Asian Racing Conference, which kicks off in Seoul the following day.

Weekend Round-Up: Ecton Blade & Triple Crown Trail, Rainha, Moonhak Chief

Three-year-olds were the standout performers in Korea last weekend with some of the best of the crop turning in eye-catching performances at both Seoul & Busan.

Ecton Blade won the Breeders’ Cup race at Seoul in December and so headed into the New Year as the leading Triple Crown contender. 2nd placegetter in that race and Seoul’s top juvenile of last year Choinma could only manage another 2nd place on his own seasonal debut two weeks ago but Ecton Blade made no mistake at Busan on Sunday.  He’s already won over 1600M before and went into Sunday’s race 3, at the KRA Cup Mile distance as the prohibitive favourite, fully justifying it by sauntering to an eight-length win. Stiffer tests await.

Ecton Blade’s win leaves the top sixteen three-year-olds (sixteen being the maximum field-size) with Triple Crown eligibility currently looking like this:

1. Ecton Blade [Ecton Park]
2= Sinui Myeongryeong (filly) [Hansen]
2= Choinma [Menifee]
4. Yeonghui Sidae (filly) [Hansen]
5. Captain Force [Peace Rules]
6. Divide Wind [Menifee]
7. Magic Ten (filly) [Rock Hard Ten]
8. Hoeng Un Gol [Forest Camp]
9. Meni Bada [Menifee]
10. World Sun [Officer]
11. King Jjang [Simon Pure]
12= Green K (filly) [Chapel Royal]
12= Global Line [Rock Hard Ten]
12= Hae Hu [Peace Rules]
12= Bugyeong Daebak (filly) [Forest Camp]
12= Blue Flag (filly) [Menifee]

Ecton Blade’s trainer Kim Young Kwan has an embarassment of riches that has seen 20 of his 40 runners so far in 2018 win. Even my elementary maths can calculate that’s a scarcely believable 50% strike rate and 70% of his runners have finished in the Quinella. Perhaps the richest of all the talents could be Rainha.

The exiting filly stepped up to a mile for what was her third career start and Rainha maintained her 100% record in a dismissively easy manner, cruising around on the bridle for a four-length win. Having been imported in-utero, she’s not on the Classic trail but nevertheless looks a very promising talent.

Rainha is owned by Shunsuke Yoshida and her dam is Allwise (Mr. Greeley) who had three foals in Japan before being relocated to Nokwon Farm on Jeju Island in late 2014 while in foal to Gold Allure. That resulting foal was Rainha. In the meantime, her filly by Heart’s Cry, born a year earlier and called Historia, last November won the TVK Sho at Tokyo Racecourse and now boasts a record of three wins from nine starts in the JRA.

Also in the non-eligible three-year-old ranks is Moonhak Chief. The US import by Pioneerof The Nile stepped up to class 2 and also to 1800M for the first time at Seoul on Sunday. And mightilu impressive he was too,  being ridden patiently by Lim Gi Won early on beofre stikign the front with just over a furlong to go and running on to win by a comfortable two lengths. He’s now won five of his seven outings.

In other news, Doraonpogyeongseon (Kantharos) went down by a nose in Busan’s Sunday sprint feature. Under an apprentice jockey so as he wouldn’t have to carry 60kg, the third-placegetter in the Korea Sprint couldn’t quite get up over 1200M, beaten a nose by Ever In Ever (Sharp Humor)/

Ecton Blade Claims Top Juvenile Crown

Two years ago, Power Blade won the Breeders’ Cup to become champion juvenile of his crop. Seven months later he was a Korean Triple Crown winner. On Sunday at Seoul Racecourse, the same connections sent out Ecton Blade and he too returned as the top two-year-old of his generation.

Ecton Blade, the latest product of the Kim Young Kwan training machine, was sent off as third-favourite for the 1400M Breeders’ Cup. Market leaders were World Sun and Choinma who had each won both their big prep races at Busan and Seoul respectively, Ecton Blade finishing a cool four-lengths adrift of World Sun in the Gimhae Mayor’s Cup at the end of October.

World Sun behaved badly on the way to the gate and proved a tough ride in the race itself too. He found himself in a good position coming off the turn but never managed to make it into top gear ultimately coming home in 5th. Choinma ran better though and ultimately got the closest to Ecton Blade as a fast finishing 2nd place.

Having already won over a mile, the distance was never going to be an issue for Ecton Blade and jockey Ham Wan Sik was happy to sit 3rd in the early stages as Global Line and Sinui Myeongryeong set the pace. He took over at the top f the stretch and never looked like being caught. Choinma was solid in 2nd while Sinui Myeongryeong stuck on for a very good 3rd to finish the best of the three fillies in the contest.

Breeders’ Cup (KOR G2) – Seoul Racecourse – 1400M – December 3, 2017

1. Ecton Blade (KOR) [Ecton Park – Vying Ty Grr (Regal Intention)] – Ham Wan Sik – 8.5, 2.0
2. Choinma (KOR) [Menifee – Kkummaeul (Curia Regis)] – Choi Bum Hyun – 1.4
3. Sinui Myeongryeong  (KOR) (Hansen – Strawberry Rose (Dr Fong)] – 3.9
Distances: 1.5 lengths / 1.25 lengths
Also Ran: 4. King Jjang 5. World Sun 6. Gyeongjuui Durebak 7. Divide Wind 8. Global Line 9. Wonderful Jackpot 10. Icheon Ssal 11. Sin Stealth 12. Okay Queen

Ecton Blade has now won three out of five starts. Owned by Power Blade owner Kim Hyung Ran, he’s trained by Kim Young Kwan. It’s early days but this two-year-old crop certainly looks stronger and deeper than the one a year ago so we will hopefully be set for an exciting Triple Crown season in 2018.

In other races, Tohamsan (Kwaedo Nanma) returned to winning ways in Busan’s feature. The Korea Sprint also-ran was giving his rivals plenty of weight in the 1200M handicap but cruised to an easy victory, his first since May.