Francisco Da Silva

Franco’s On Fire, Bart And Pete Are Nearly Tied

Franco Da Silva moved to within two wins of the three-hundred mark in Korea, riding four winners across the weekend; trainer Peter Wolsley sent out a treble on Friday, but a series of bad luck saw Johan Victoire stall for at least one more week in his bid to reach two-hundred Korean winners.

Franco Da Silva (Pic: KRA)

The only foreign jockey currently riding at Busan since the departures of Djordje Perovic and Ioannis Poullis, Franco Da Silva has been in imperious form of late on the south coast. Having taken out the final race of the day on Million Bank on Friday, Da Silva kicked off Sunday with a gate-to-wire score on I Will The Star before adding two more, both for trainer Bart Rice, on Spice Ecton in Race 3 and Jessieui Kkum in the concluding Race 6.

Jessieui Kkum (by Jess’s Dream) is a four-year-old American-bred gelding, who is quietly putting together an impressive body of work. On Sunday, he settled back in the pack before steadily improving and then running on strong to score by half a length over 1800M at class 2 level. Under the eye of the progressive Rice stable, he looks to have a bright future.

Aussie trainer Peter Wolsley was in red-hot form on Friday, sending out three winners. The first was something of a surprise as 80/1 filly Happy Jazz led all the way in Race 2 before the better fancied Patriot took out Race 3 and Dream Of Queen Race 5. Bart Rice and Peter Wolsley are now neck and neck in 5th and 6th in the Busan Trainer Premiership.

At Seoul, David Breux rode a winner on both Saturday and Sunday while Antonio Da Silva was on target for one on Saturday and Alan Munro for one on Sunday. It was a slightly frustrating weekend for Breux’s fellow French rider Johan Victoire though.

Victoire is just two shy of reaching the two-hundred winner milestone since starting in Korea in md-2017. He had four good chances on Sunday but endured a string of bad luck. Premiership leading trainer Luigi Riccardi’s well fancied pair of Giant Indy in Race 6 and Trotting Riley in race 9 both missed the break, while arguably Victoire’s best chance of the day, Tiz Barows, was scratched from race 10. It’s hard to keep Victoire down though, and he will surely hit the two hundred sooner rather than later.   

In the feature race of the weekend, the concluding Race 11 at Seoul on Sunday, apprentice jockey Kim Tae-hui added to her burgeoning reputation, producing the veteran Winner Gold at the perfect time to swoop home. Favourite Soul Merit struck the front in the final half furlong, but Kim brought the seven-year-old Wildcat Heir entire past to score on the line. It was the apprentice’s twenty-sixth career winner, and the twenty-one-year-old looks set to ride out her claim in double-quick time.

One milestone was reached this weekend and it was by local trainer Kwak Yong-hyo. The veteran handler sent out his five-hundredth career winner when Take Music dominated Race 1 at Seoul on Sunday. While twenty-five years may be a long time, Kwak has sent out only just over 4,800 runners in that time so has returned a win-rate in excess of 10%. His best horses have been Bicheonbong, who won the President’s Cup (KOR-G1) in 2004, and Star Wood, who won back-to-back runnings of the Ttukseom Cup (KOR-G3) in 2005 and 2006, in the days before that race became restricted to fillies and mares.

Trainer Kwak Yong-hyo with jockey Park Tae-jong following Hangang Ace’s win in the Munhwa Ilbo Trophy (Pic: KRA)

Kwak may not be done quite yet as he has in his stable Hangang Ace, who earlier this month won the Listed Munhwa Ilbo Trophy for juveniles and will probably be headed to Busan in December for the Breeders’ Cup race to decide the season’s champion two-year-old.

Next weekend sees the likely return of Korea Sprint winner Eoma Eoma. With no season-ending Group races for the sprinters, he is set to travel south to Busan where he will be hot favourite to win the Listed Kookje Shinmun Trophy over 1400M next Sunday afternoon.

Power Blade Cuts Down Triple Nine Again

Power Blade asserted his dominance, at least at short distances,  over stable-mate and long-time rival Triple Nine with a commanding win in the Kukje Sinmun Cup at Busan Racecourse on Sunday Afternoon.

Since the pair returned from the Dubai World Cup Carnival earlier this year, they have raced each other twice with Power Blade prevailing both times; first over a mile in August’s Owners’ Cup and then again in Sunday’s Kukje at 1400M. Last year, Triple Nine got the better of the then 3-year-old Power Blade at 1800M, 2000M and 2300M.

Given a better draw, Power Blade may well have won the Korea Sprint. Instead he was a fast finishing 2nd behind Japanese raider Graceful Leap. That day Triple Nine went in the Korea Cup and once more was the best Korean finisher in 4th. Today they raced together but at the distance, Triple Nine was always going to struggle to get into top gear in time to trouble his younger rival.

As it was Franco Da Silva took things up on Power Blade as they entered the home straight and he ran on strongly to win by almost three lengths on the line. Triple Nine, still getting faster, was 2nd with Seoul-trained City Star pipping Success Story for 3rd.

It was Power Blade’s tenth career win and took his earnings to well in excess of US$2 Million. Whether he takes on the President’s Cup and Grand Prix Stakes once more at unfavourable distances remains to be seen but hopefully connections can be persuaded to have another crack at Meydan in the new year. Cheongdam Dokki and Final Boss (if we forgive the unpredictable latter’s 4th in a 1200M Sprint on Sunday) are the young pretenders but Power Blade and Triple Nine remain very much the big boys of Korean racing right now.

Kukje Sinmun Cup – Busan Racecourse – 1400M – October 1, 2017

1. Power Blade (KOR) [Menifee – Cheonmachong (Lost Mountain)] – Franco Da Silva – 1.5, 1.1
2. Triple Nine (KOR) [Ecton Park – A Little Poke (Pleasant Tap)] – Lim Sung Sil – 1.0
3. City Star (KOR) [Menifee – City Styling (Carson City)] – Kim Yong Geun – 1.7
Distances: 2.5 lengths/3 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Success Story 5. Dongchonui Achim 6. Cheonji Park 7. Baedari Bobae 8. Rocket Blade

Racing takes a one week break now with the action resuming at Busan on Friday October 13th.

Cheongdam Dokki, I’m Your Father Claim 2yo Prizes

Big prizes were on offer for imported two-year-olds at both Seoul and Busan on Sunday . 23/1 outsider Cheongdam Dokki took the honours in the Munhwa Ilbo Cup at Seoul while at Busan, jockey Francisco Da Silva continued his recent run of form, guiding  well-backed I’m Your Father to victory in the Gyeongnam Do Min Ilbo.

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Francisco Da Silva interviewed post-race

I’m Your Father (Tiznow) entered having won one of three starts so far with 2nd and 3rd places in the other two – all against older horses. Accordingly he was sent off as the slight favourite for the 1200M Gyeongnam Do Min Ilbo Cup, Busan’s most valuable race for imported juveniles. I’m Your Father, a $50,000 yearling purchase from the Fasig Tipton sale last autumn raced handy throughout, hitting the front early in the home straigth and running on to win by a dominant four lengths.

It was jockey Francisco Da Silva’s 11th Korean winner and he would quickly add another as he guided Main Stay to beat stablemate and Korean Oaks winner Ottug Ottugi and highly rated sprinter Perdido Pomeroy in the class 1 feature.

Seoul too hosted its most valuable race for juvenile imports on Sunday and if Busan’s was practically a procession for the winner, in the capital it was anything but. Spirit Of Hansen (Hansen) was sent off as a vulnerable favourite in the Munhwa Ilbo Cup but it was another 23/1 chance, Cheongdam Dokki (To Honor And Serve) who closed from 9th to 1st in the final furlong to snatch it on the line under Park Eul Woon.

Cheongdam Dokki cost just $20,000 at Keeneland’s yearling sale in 2015. The munhwa Ilbo was just his second lifetime start and he’s won both of them

Next week sees one of the biggest races of the season at Seoul in the shape of the President’s Cup. It’s Korea’s most valuable race of the season that’s restricted to domestic-bred horses.

Satoshi On Fire At Busan While It’s Bravo Belli at Seoul

Yonekura Satoshi continued his solid September with no less five winners at Busan last weekend. Meanwhile up at Seoul, Sunday was a milestone day for Marcello Belli as the Italian claimed his first Korean winner.

Since winning the KNN Cup on outsider Supreme Magic in July, Satoshi has finally found himself getting plenty of opportunities and the 41-year-old Japanese rider is converting them.

Taking advantage of a number of Busan’s top riders being in Seoul for the Jeju Governor’s Cup, Satoshi won the first race last Friday on Queen’s Queen and added two more later on in the evening before coming back out on Sunday and adding two more. None of the five across the weekend started at shorter than 5/1.

It’s still early days for Marcello Belli but the Italian rider got a big boost on Sunday as he partnered his first winner in Seoul. On a day of long-shot winners, Belli made all on 43/1 chance Northern Hojae in race 8 and just had enough left to hold off the  favourite by a nose on the line

It was Belli’s first win on what was his 21st ride at Seoul. He still has some considerable way to go to match fellow Italian-licensed Seoul rider Djordje Perovic but he’s now on his way.

Seoul’s other foreign jockey Imran Chisty also rode a winner on Saturday although Paolo Aragoni and Pasquale Borelli who were also in the capital for the weekend both saw their mounts come up short in the Jeju Governor’s Cup.

Busan’s fourth foreign jockey, Francisco Da Silva got his own Korean career off to a remarkable start. Debuting on September 9th, he won on his first two rides and added a third later that same day. The 37-year-old is yet to add to that tally but has had a few near misses and was suspended last weekend.