Fly Top Queen

Fly Top Queen Back Among The Winners

After a disappointing second half of the year, Fly Top Queen was back in the winner’s circle under the floodlights on a cold winter’s afternoon in Seoul on Saturday.

Having endured the ignominy of finishing last in the Asia Challenge Cup in August and following it up with a lacklustre 11th of 12 behind old foes Wonder Bolt and Watts Village a month ago, Korea’s most expensive imported racehorse was sent off at just 4th in the betting for Saturday’s class 1 feature.

However, this time she put in the kind of run that we came to expect from her earlier in her career. Bounding out of gate 12 under Park Tae Jong, Fly Top Queen was taken into the lead early in the 1400M race and never looked like getting caught, winning by 4-lengths on the line with Bichui Jeongsang and Here He Comes chasing her home not terribly effectively.

It was her 6th win in 12 career starts (including one start in Japan). While not an especially quick time – on what was a day of rather slow times – but the manner of her victory suggests that she still has plenty more to offer in the likely event that connections opt to run her as a 5-year-old in 2015.

As for other imports, fellow US bred Eye Say Who Dey, who won his first two races so impressively before suffering two setbacks, was also back among the winners at Seoul yesterday. The 2-year-old Bluegrass Cat colt took the honours in a very competitive race 8 which featured a number of up-and-coming overseas-bred horses.

Racing returns to Seoul and Busan today, with class 1 events and plenty of good betting races at both tracks.

Class 1 Handicap – Seoul Racecourse – 1400M – Dec 6, 2014

1. Fly Top Queen (USA) [Henny Hughes – Cape Discovery (Johannesburg)] – Park Tae Jong – 5.5, 2.0
2. Bichui Jeongsang (USA) [Wildcat Heir – Persimmon Honey (Colonial Affair)] – Ikuyasu Kurakane – 1.7
3. Here He Comes (USA) [Divine Park – Migygian (Ogygian)] – Moon Se Young – 2.6

Distances: 4 lengths / 3 lengths – 13 ran

Weekend Preview: Winter Has Arrived

There’s just one week to go until the traditional finale of the Korean racing year, the Grand Prix Stakes and the weather in Korea has suddenly turned cold. Very cold.

We could be seeing scenes like this at the track soon

We could be seeing scenes like this at the track soon

While last Saturday, punters were basking in temperatures in the low teens (celsius), things plunged below freezing on Sunday night and haven’t warmed up since. We keep on racing though and there is a busy weekend in store.

Joe Fujii returns to the saddle after five months on the sidelines through injury. The Japanese rider has plenty of live chances among his eleven rides across the weekend.

There will also be plenty of well-known horses on show, with four class 1 races across the weekend.

At Seoul, Fly Top Queen seeks to get her stuttering career back on track again in Saturday’s feature after two very disappointing runs. She’ll have it all to do once more against some decent sprinters over 1400M. On Sunday Best Captain, second in the President’s Cup a month ago, heads the weights in the big handicap.

Busan has class 1 events on both Friday and Sunday. Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday December 5
Busan Racecourse: 11 races from 11:40 to 18:00
Jeju Racecourse: 10 races from 13:30 to 17:20

Saturday December 6
Seoul Racecourse: 12 races from 10:50 to 18:00
Jeju Racecourse: 10 races from 12:20 to 17:40

Sunday December 7
Seoul Racecourse: 11 races from 10:50 to 18:00
Busan Racecourse: 6 races from 12:45 to 17:00

Weekend Preview: Wonder Bolt, Watts Village, Fly Top Queen in Seoul Asia Challenge Cup Rematch

Three Korean-trained horses will fly to Japan on Friday to take part in the Interaction Cup at Ohi on November 11. However, the winner of last year’s race won’t be among them. Instead Watts Village will be at home in Seoul this Sunday, taking on some of the track’s best known imports in the weekend’s feature event.

Wonder Bolt is the star attraction at Seoul this weekend (Pic: Elan959)

Wonder Bolt is the star attraction at Seoul this weekend (Pic: Elan959)

Chief among eleven rivals for Watts Village is Wonder Bolt. The 4-year-old came the closest to El Padrino in the Asia Challenge Cup at the end of the August. And while the Singapore raider claimed the track record that day, Wonder Bolt was also comfortably within the previous best mark.

The race will be run over 1700M and going around two-turns for only the 2nd time will be Fly Top Queen, still the nation’s most expensive racehorse. She was an also ran in both last year’s Interaction Cup in Tokyo and in the Asia Challenge Cup as well as finding herself beaten by both Wonder Bolt and Watts Village back in July. A return to form is overdue.

Watts Village himself returned to form at the beginning of October with a crushing win over, among others, Here He Comes and Parang Juuibo, both of whom will be on the flight tomorrow. While we wish them the best of luck in the Japanese capital, there will be those lamenting that the three who run in the Korean capital on Sunday opted against taking their chance.

There’s plenty more action across the weekend, including top sprinter Oreuse going at Busan for the first time since May. Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday October 31
Busan Racecourse: 11 races from 11:40 to 18:00
Jeju Racecourse: 9 races from 13:20 to 17:20

Saturday November 1
Seoul Racecourse: 12 races from 10:50 to 18:00
Jeju Racecourse: 9 races from 12:20 to 17:10

Sunday November 2
Seoul Racecourse: 11 races from 10:50 to 18:00
Busan Racecourse: 6 races from 12:45 to 17:00

El Padrino Historic Winner Of Inaugural Asia Challenge Cup

El Padrino showed his class with a dominant victory for Singapore in the inaugural Asia Challenge Cup at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday.

El Padrino wins the Asia Challenge Cup under David Flores (Pic: Elan959)

El Padrino wins the Asia Challenge Cup under David Flores (Pic: Elan959)

Sent off as the pre-race favourite by Korean punters, El Padrino made a steady start, settling into the middle of the pack under jockey David Flores as local contenders Fly Top Queen, Watts Village and Cowboy Son made the early pace.

Flores started to make up ground as they began the long-turn for home, improving around the outside – just like he had done on one earlier mount in a previous race. Tracking him was Lee Chan Ho on Wonder Bolt, the 3rd favourite.

It would be these two who would dominate the remainder of the race, El Padrino hitting the front just after the two-furlong pole, Flores shifting inside and then letting loose. Wonder Bolt chased gallantly on the outside but never came close to catching him

Ultimately, El Padrino would win by two lengths in a track record time of 1:23.8. Wonder Bolt also finished inside the old record, a full eight lengths ahead of 3rd placed New York Blue. The Japanese pair of Toshi Gang Star and Pierre Tiger came home in 4th and 5th.

There was disappointment for the other two Singaporean raiders; Speedy Cat and Trudeau never getting into a rhythm and coming home 9th and 10th respectively. Meanwhile, those early pace-setters and frequent rivals, Fly Top Queen and Watts Village were the last two home.

El Padrino and David Flores fly the flag in the Winner's Circle

El Padrino and David Flores fly the flag in the Winner’s Circle

The race capped an important weekend for Korean horse racing. Unprecedented work had gone into securing a quarantine protocol which would allow the Singaporean runners to visit – a similar one was completed with Japan last year and involved the creating of an expanded quarantine zone at the racecourse.

At a welcome dinner the previous evening, the Chairman of Toko City Keiba, representing Japan – where there will be a return leg for three Korean horses in November, a race won by Watts Village last year – spoke as did the Chairman of the Singapore Turf Club. The race was broadcast live to Singapore where it made up part of the Sunday card at Kranji. Regular simulcast broadcasts to Singapore – 14 races were broadcast on Saturday – also began earlier this summer and is generating a steady turnover.

At the track, the usually stuffy 6th floor was livened up by the presence of some boisterous visiting connections, especially those representing Trudeau. Even the parade ring actually looked like a big race was about to take place.

A year ago, simulcasting and an international race of this standard – even after the successful running Japan/Korea Goodwill Cup, looked an incredibly long way off. But it has happened. Even some imitators of this blog have started up. After years of nothing, progress has suddenly gathered pace.

On Sunday, the pace everyone was talking about, belonged to El Padrino.

Asia Challenge Cup 2014 – Seoul Racecourse – 1400M – Aug 31, 2014

1. El Padrino (NZ) [Mr. Nancho – Crownie (Luskin Star)] – David Flores – 2.8, 1.3
2. Wonder Bolt (USA) [Desert Warrior – Little Champ (Great Gladiator)] – Lee Chan Ho – 2.0
3. New York Blue (USA) [Candy Ride – Aim For The Moon (Deputy Minister)] – Masakazu Tanaka – 4.9
Distances: 2 lengths / 8 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Toshi Gang Star (JPN) 5. Pierre Tiger (JPN) 6. Indian Blue (KOR) 7. Chocolat Verrine (JPN) 8. Cowboy Son (USA) 9. Speedy Cat (NZ) 10. Trudeau (AUS) 11. Persia Wangja (CAN) 12. Changiparang (USA) 13. Watts Village 14. Fly Top Queen

Wonder Bolt Crushes Fly Top Queen, Watts Village in Asia Challenge Cup Trial

Wonder Bolt shook up the sprint division with an emphatic win over Fly Top Queen and the returning Watts Village in a trial for August’s Asia Cup Challenge race at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday night.

While Watts Village, who memorably won the Japan/Korea Interaction Cup at Tokyo Ohi last year, was returning form a 6-month lay-off and was not expected to be at 100%, Fly Top Queen, Korea’s most expensive imported racehorse, had looked in imperious form when dominating over the same 1400M distance a month ago.

Fly Top Queen was duly sent off as the odds-on favourite but Wonder Bolt, who had sat in the middle of the pack during the early stages, surged to the front with just over a furlong to go and then produced an unanswerable sprint to win by a full 9-lengths. To compound the disappointment for Fly Top Queen backers, Watts Village got up to edge her into third place.

Wonder Bolt and Lee Chan Ho, seen here winning a previous race in May (Pic: Elan959*)

Wonder Bolt and Lee Chan Ho, seen here winning a previous race in May (Pic: Elan959*)

The Asia Challenge Cup is scheduled to be run at Seoul Racecourse on August 31 and is set to involve 3 horses from Singapore and 3 horses from Japan. An encouragingly large number of nominations from Singapore have been received, all of them for horses with ratings in excess of 100. Japan – chastened perhaps after Watts Village’s 100/1 triumph in Tokyo – has also indicated that they plan to send stronger horses than last time, when they won the Seoul leg of the race with Tosen Archer.

This means that Korea needs all its A-listers on their game if they are to compete. With Busan horses currently still not eligible to run, the focus has been on Fly Top Queen – and Yeongsan II if connections can be persuaded to take a sporting chance. Wonder Bolt may just have shot to the top of the list.

Class 1 – Seoul Racecourse – 1400M – July 20, 2014

1. Wonder Bolt (USA) [Desert Warrior – Little Champ (Great Gladiator)] – Lee Chan Ho – 4.4, 1.4
2. Watts Village (USA) [Forestry – Edey’s Village (Silver Deputy)] – Seo Seung Un – 1.7
3. Fly Top Queen (USA) [Henny Hughes – Cape Discovery (Cape Town)] – Moon Se Young – 1.0

Distances: 9 lengths/1 length – 10 ran.

*Picture from the very excellent Elan959 blog

Yeongsan II, Fly Top Queen Win Big At Seoul

Two of Seoul’s most talked about horses both scored dismissively easy victories as they tuned up for bigger things to come at Seoul Racecourse on Saturday.

Yeongsan II prowls the Seoul paddock

Yeongsan II prowls the Seoul paddock

Yeongsan II [Menifee – Foxxy Cleo (Peintre Celebre)] was sold to Malaysia as a 2-year-old but was brought back home last year. Now 4-years-old, he was making his 4th Korean start on Saturday, having won all his previous ones.

Sent off at odds of 1/9, he cruised around the track without breaking into a serious gallop, to crush a sub-par field by 10 lengths. Known as “Yeongsan II” because an Australian import in the late 1990’s was also called “Yeongsan”, he’s now just a couple of races away from class 1.

Fly Top Queen meanwhile landed her first class 1 victory with a similarly easy win in race 11. Billed as an “Asia Challenge Cup Qualifier” the race was intended as preparation for the International Sprint Invitational race at Seoul at the end of August. Fly Top Queen will most likely be among those representing in Korea in the race which will feature runners from Japan and possibly Singapore.

Korea’s most expensive ever racehorse, Fly Top Queen [Henny Hughes – Cape Discovery (Cape Town)] moves on to 6 wins from 8 domestic starts.

Fly Top Queen Strolls To Segye Success

Fly Top Queen made her way back to the winner’s circle in dominant fashion at Seoul Race Park today, crushing her opposition in the Segye Ibo Cup.

Fly Top Queen was back in the winner's circle

Fly Top Queen was back in the winner’s circle

Having suffered her first ever career defeat in Japan last November and putting in a poor performance on her season debut over 1700 metres last month, there were those who thought Korea’s most expensive ever import was a half-season wonder.

However, dropped back to 7 furlongs and with likely favourite Strong Wind a late scratching, Fly Top Queen was backed into odds-on and she didn’t mess about.

Gunned out of the widest gate, jockey Park Tae Jong took the 4-year-old to the front early and never looked back, cruising away from the field in the home straight to win by a distance of their choosing.

Behind them the Australian bred pair of Marica and Felix Joy came in 2nd and 3rd but they might as well have been running in a different race. so outclassed they were by the winner.

The victory and the manner of it – even against less than exalted opposition – puts Fly Top Queen firmly in the frame for the opening leg of the Queens’ Tour, the Ttukseom Cup at Seoul next month. There, also at 7 furlongs, Joy Lucky awaits. That should be a good one.

Segye Ilbo Cup – Seoul Race Park – 1400M – February 16, 2014

1. Fly Top Queen (USA) [Henny Hughes – Cape Discovery (Cape Town)] – Park Tae Jong
2. Marica (AUS) [Reset – Teneales Pearl (Redoute’s Choice)] – Jang Chu Youl
3. Felix Joy (AUS) [Hard Spun – Royal Amity (His Majesty)] – Yoo Seung Wan

Distances: 9 lengths / 1 length – 13 ran

Fly Top Queen’s Crown Slips Again

Fly Top Queen stumbled to her first defeat on Korean soil after a lacklustre run alowed Xicar to grab an unlikely victory at Seoul Race Park this afternoon.

Fly Top Queen is trotted up for the vet after finishing 5th

Fly Top Queen is trotted up for the vet after finishing 5th

Korea’s most expensive ever imported racehorse had, after a year of injury problems, breezed through 4 consecutive wins last summer and autumn without breaking into a gallop before being sent to Japan to compete in the Japan vs Korea challenge at Ohi in November.

Fly Top Queen (Henny Hughes) disappointed there but few expected her to have any problems upon her return to Seoul against what was a less than impressive class 2 line-up over 1700 metres. She was sent off as the odds-on favourite and looked to be fully worth that as she entered the home straight in front and pulling away.

Then, with just over a furlong to go, she stalled. Jockey Cho Kyoung Ho, standing in for the suspended Park Tae Jong, quickly realised there was nothing left in the tank and could do nothing as the chasing pack swept by.

In the end it was Xicar (Written Tycoon) took the win. The 5-year-old Australian mare looked quite a talent when she first appeared on the scene in 2011, winning 3 of her first 6 races. She then went on to lose 15 in a row until today, almost exactly 2 years since she was last victorious, she found herself back in the winner’s circle.

As for Fly Top Queen, the vet found nothing obvious wrong with her. She’s undoubtedly one of the finest bred and most naturally gifted of horses to ever run here but as we knew from the year it took her to be ready to run after arriving, she’s not the soundest. Hopefully her best isn’t behind her already.

Class 2 – Seoul Race Park – 1700M – January 11, 2014

1. Xicar (AUS) [Written Tycoon – Grand Jewel (Brocco)] – Jang Chu Youl
2. Stan The Cameraman (USA) [With Distinction – Always On The Go (Lord Carson)] – Fausto Durso
3. Socheonha (NZ) [Duelled – Interdame (Senior Pete)] – Kim Hye Sun
Distances: 0.5 lengths/1.5 lengths – 11 ran

Weekend Preview: Fly Top Queen, Gamdonguibada Headline At Seoul & Busan

The weekend’s racing got underway at Busan today but there’s still plenty to keep us occupied on Saturday and Sunday.

Fly Top Queen is back home and will be favourite to get her fifth straight win on Korean...sand

Fly Top Queen is back home and will be favourite to get her fifth straight win on Korean…sand

Fly Top Queen (Henny Hughes) is the most expensive racehorse ever imported to Korea. She won all 4 of her domestic starts last year before heading to Tokyo to take part in the 2nd-leg of the Korea vs Japan Challenge at Ohi in November.

She didn’t quite live up to expectations that night, but she’s back in Korea now and will be the heavy favourite to get back to winning ways in race 10 at Seoul on Saturday, a class 2 test over 1700 metres.

Sunday at Busan sees a quick return to action for Gamdonguibada (Werblin). The 2012 Grand Prix Stakes winner failed to successfully defend her title in Seoul last month and has a tough ask on her season-debut as a 5-year-old, carrying over 60kg in the class 1 race 6.

The ever-reliable Lion Santa and Viva Ace are among those she’ll be giving weight to in the 10-furlong feature race.

Both Gamdonguibada and Fly Top Queen will have new jockeys this weekend with Lim Sung Sil and Cho Kyoung Ho replacing the suspended pair of Joe Fujii and Park Tae Jong.

Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Saturday January 11
Seoul Race Park: 12 races from 11:00 to 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 12:30 to 17:30

Sunday January 12
Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:00 to 18:00
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:50 to 17:30

Brilliant Watts Village Makes History Winning Japan-Korea Cup In Tokyo

In what was arguably the finest ever race run by a Korean-trained racehorse, Watts Village won the Japan-Korea Interaction Cup at Ohi Racecourse in Tokyo tonight.

Watts Village Conquers Ohi (Pic: keiba.co.jp_)

Watts Village Conquers Ohi (Pic: keiba.co.jp)

After coming so close to winning the first leg of the Korea vs Japan challenge in Seoul back in September, Watts Village made no mistake this time as, under Seo Seung Un, he led from gate-to-wire to record a famous victory in the Japanese capital.

It was a perfectly timed ride from Seo. Watts Village took an early lead and maintained it as his challengers massed behind. In the final furlong they pressed and pressed. The pressure was relentless and they came so close to sweeping by but gamely, gallantly, Watts Village held on.

Miyasan Cutie and Kogyo Douglas came closest to him, finishing an oh-so-close 2nd and 3rd.

Japan-Korea Interaction Cup – Ohi Racecourse – 1200M – November 26, 2013

1. Watts Village (USA) [Forestry – Edey’s Village (Silver Deputy)] – Seo Seung Un
2. Miyasan Cutie (JPN) [Kurofune – Innocent Nymph (Hector Protector)] – Daisuke Mashima
3. Kogyo Douglas (JPN) [Sterling Rose – Amore Pegasus (Mejiro Ryan)] – Takehiro Kashiwagi

Distances: Neck/1 length – 14 ran

In a race that was always to be dictated by early speed, the other Korean challengers Fly Top Queen and Full Moon Party gave what they could but were found wanting. Watts Village nailed it.

A three-year-old colt, Watts Village (Forestry) had, by virtue of his runner-up position to Tosen Archer in Seoul in September, already achieved an official rating of 100.

This qualified him to run in Dubai this winter. Connections had not been sure whether to take the offer up but now, with him already having passed Japanese quarantine, he might just go for it.

Nobody thought it could happen but tonight Korean trained racehorses went to Japan and against all odds – literally – one of them won. Korean horse-racing took a huge step forward tonight.