Franco Da Silva

Jeulgeounyeojeong and Franco Da Silva Win the Luna Stakes

Jeulgeounyeojeong held off a determined late challenge from Raon Forest to win the Luna Stakes, the opening leg of the Triple Tiara (filly Triple Crown) at Busan Racecourse on Sunday.

Raon Forest finished the quicker but Jeulgeounyeojeong had already won (Pic: KRA)

Sent off as joint-favourite for the mile long first jewel, Jeulgeounyeojeong sat handy through the early stages as fellow favourite Raon Giant set the pace under Moon Se-young.

Raon Giant’s challenge would end early in the straight and it was Jeulgeounyeojeong who would take things up building a seemingly unbeatable lead in the final furlong, only for the striking  grey Raon Forest, a stablemate of Raon Giant under the care of trainer Park Jong-kon to launch a blistering late run. It went to the judges but Jeulgeounyeojeong was the winner by a nose.

19/1 chance Magic Class was five-lengths adrift in 3rd while Raon Giant came home 4th.

Winning jockey Franco Da Silva was quick to acknowledge that he was fortunate to get the call up following a minor injury to declared jockey Seo Seung-un in trackwork.

“He (Seo Seung-un) got some back issue, and I was free for the race, so I was lucky. It’s a lucky winner for me.” Da Silva told in-house broadcaster KRBC.

Despite only picking up the ride at the last minute, Da Silva had a clear game plan: “I knew that number 5 (Raon Forest) and number 10 (Raon Giant) would be the best two horses and I was worried about the number 4 (Wonderful Week), I thought that she was quite nice. But I knew that they were going to be very fast, so my plan was to jump and just track the leaders and wait.”

“And everything was perfect. She jumped quite good, and I just had to control the pace and wait and take her out and she did her best until the line. I’m happy that she was 100% today.”

Such was the strong finish of Raon Forest that jockey Lim Gi-won raised his crop in seeming celebration and even the TV Producer zoomed in on the Seoul filly after the line instead of the actual winner. Da Silva was having none of it though:

“Right after the line I told that jockey that I had won.”

Jeulgeounyeojeong is by Colors Flying and is out of Says Ms Elizabeth (by Giacomo) and was bred by owners Nasca, of Eoma Eoma fame, at their farm. She is trained by Korea’s all-time leading trainer in terms of both wins and Group races, Kim Young-kwan. She moves onto four wins from ten starts.

The second leg of the Triple Tiara is the Korean Oaks (1800M KOR-G2), also at Busan on June 4th and while Jeulgeounyeojeong will rightly be among the leading contenders, the way Raon Forest finished off the race may make her the favourite to turn the tables with an extra furlong to play with. The final leg of the Tiara is the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup (2000M KOR-G2) at Seoul on July 15th.

Next weekend it is the turn of the colts to kick off their Triple Crown with the KRA Cup Mile (1600M KOR-G2) at Busan on Sunday.

Mixed Fortunes for Korea Cup and Sprint Winners on 2023 Debuts

The winners of last year’s international Korea Sprint and Korea Cup both made their 2023 debuts on Sunday but while Eoma Eoma ran out a comfortable winner at Seoul, Winner’s Man could manage no better than 4th in the feature event of the afternoon at Busan.

Winner’s Man, who also won the season-ending Grand Prix Stakes to take his Group 1 tally to three, was sent off as the odds-on favourite for the class 1 1800M south coast feature. Always prominent, the five-year-old briefly struck the front under Seo Seung-un in the home straight but unlike in his big race wins, he failed to kick on and with half a furlong to go it was clear it wasn’t going to be his day.

Victory ultimately went to the Franco Da Silva ridden Flat Babe, runner-up in last November’s Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup, with veteran King Of Glory rolling back the years with a fast finishing 2nd and Tuhonui Banseok, 3rd in the Grand Prix edging out Winner’s Man in a photo for 4th.

A five-year-old mare by Flat Out, Flat Babe has been something of a revelation in the last few months, rapidly moving from a solid but unspectacular class 3 campaigner to class 1 winner in the space of four races since being upped to racing around two turns. She looks set to be a serious contender in this year’s Queens’ Tour for fillies and mares.

As for Winner’s Man, connections pointed afterwards to it being the first time he had carried 60kg in a race – he was giving 8kg to the winner – in addition to him racing at his heaviest ever bodyweight of 550kg – up 18kg since the Grand Prix. Winner’s Man’s anticipated next run will be in the Herald Business Trophy (2000M KOR-G3) at Seoul on April 16th. There he will renew his rivalry with Raon The Fighter, so impressive last week in his own seasonal opener.

Perhaps it was because of Winner’s Man’s performance earlier in the afternoon, as well as the disconcerting sight of regular jockey Moon Se-young’s name next to another horse, that led to Eoma Eoma being sent off at better than even money for his first outing as a six-year-old at class 1 over 1200M at Seoul.

With the race under handicap conditions, Eoma Eoma would, like Winner’s Man, have been assigned 60kg but trainer Song Moon-gil opted to use apprentice O Su-cheol and take advantage of his 2kg claim. Moon Se-young accordingly climbed aboard Jangsan Laser who was strongly backed into a close second-favourite.

Those who kept faith with Eoma Eoma were rewarded as Algorithms entire was quick out of the gate to be on the early speed with East Jet, racing very keenly and pulling hard. Apprentice O Su-cheol kept his cool though and once he let Eoma Eoma stride out in the home straight, the US-bred sped away for a three-length win with his rivals always at arm’s length.

The next five home were separated by just a length with Moon and Jangsan Laser in 2nd while the venerable Morfhis ran 3rd with a typical Morfhis late run. The victory, Eoma Eoma’s fourteenth in total, completed a treble on the day for apprentice O Su-cheol, who may not get the call once the star horse returns to Group racing, but enjoyed surely the best day of his career so far.

That next run for Eoma Eoma is likely to be the Busan Ilbo Sprint (1200M KOR-G3) on the south coast on April 2nd.  

International Jockeys & Trainers Close Out 2022 With Milestones Aplenty

The overseas contingent in Korean racing had plenty to celebrate as 2022 reached its conclusion with records being smashed over the last couple of months of the year. Johan Victoire has passed the two-hundred winner mark at Seoul while down at Busan jockey Franco Da Silva and trainer Bart Rice, both breached three-hundred winners. Back in the capital, trainer Luigi Riccardi notched his century in the penultimate week of the season.

Franco Da Silva’s milestone came first, and it was for Rice, on the trainer’s Alec King Iji on October 28th. Da Silva debuted in 2016 and just like Rice, was successful in his first ever race in the country, ultimately riding a treble on his first day. Jockey Da Silva’s figures are remarkably similar to those of trainer Rice. He has a win rate of over 13%, a quinella rate of 27% and show rate of 38%.

Da Silva won the Korean Derby in 2018 on Ecton Blade for trainer Kim Young-kwan for whom he also picked up the G3 Busan Owners’ Cup on the Triple Crown winner Power Blade in 2017. On the day he cracked 300, Da Silva added another in the final race on the card and then one more on the following Sunday before heading off for an extended overseas break with family, his 60 winners across the year putting him behind only You Hyun-myung, Seo Seung-un and Park Jae-i at the top of the Busan table.

Bart Rice’s landmark win arrived on November 11th with three-year-old gelding Fusaichi, ridden by Chae Sang-hyun in the colours of owner and breeder Isidore Farm.

“I feel good, you know. Three-hundred wins, it’s ok, I’m happy.” Rice told KRBC Busan’s social media on the day. Fusaichi, who is by Purge and out of Isidore’s mare Fusaichiswonderful (by Fusaichi Pegasus) was breaking his maiden on his fourth start.

“Well done to the owner as well as he has always supported me. But the stable has done well, the staff has done well. It’s been a long road, but all good.”

Having previously trained in South Africa, Bart Rice arrived in Korea in late 2013 as the third overseas trainer to be licensed after Peter Wolsley and Joe Murphy. He sent out his first runners in January 2014 and got a winner with his first starter, an 8/1 chance called Gyeongnam Sinhwa.

Rice’s one-hundredth winner arrived in May 2017 and his two-hundredth in July 2020, the latter, Mr. Fusion, also in the Isidore colours.  He has now sent out over 2200 runners for a win rate in excess of 13%, a quinella rate of 24% and show figures of almost 35%. Fusaichi was his 38th of 43 winners in 2022 leaving him in 6th place in the Busan Trainer Premiership.

Franco Da Silva is currently the only foreign jockey licensed at Busan following the departures during the year of Djordje Perovic and Ioannis Poullis, although new additions are expected in the first part of 2023. Before leaving, Perovic broke Ikuyasu Kurakane’s record of most winners in Korea by a foreign jockey.

In the trainer ranks, Peter Wolsley, who debuted in 2007, is still going strong on and closing in his 650th winner – only Kim Young-kwan has ever trained more at the track. Thomas Gillespie, a 2015 addition, is also going well, with 280 total wins in Korea.

At Seoul, Johan Victoire crashed through the 200-winner barrier in November, when partnering Choego Race to a two-and-a-half length victory at class 3 level. Victoire is another member of the “winner in first race in Korea” club having triumphed on his first mount at Seoul in 2017. He reached 100 in 2019 and ended 2022 with 33 winners for the year.

Among those winners were Jangsan Bada in the Listed Ilgan Sports Trophy, and even more significantly, a second SBS Sports Sprint (G3) in June. Just as he did in 2020, Victoire partnered Morfhis to victory in what is the main lead-up race for the Korea Sprint. Victoire has ridden Morfhis in ten of his eleven career wins since first being paired with him in all the way back in 2018.

Antonio Da Silva finished in 6th place in the Seoul Jockey Premiership with 44 winners. David Breux notched 34 and Alan Munro 27.

Victoire’s Ilgan Sports win on Jangsan Bada was the first feature race win in Korea for trainer Tony Castanheira, one of 18 winners he sent out over 2022. Numbers-wise it was a breakout season for Luigi Riccardi, whose 42 winners saw him tie with Seo In-seok for 2nd place in the Trainer Premiership, two behind the Raon-backed Champion Park Jong-kon. Seo had more runner-up finishes but also sent out nearly double the number of starters with 443 to Riccardi’s 227, the Italian’s 18.5% win-rate the highest among trainers at either Seoul or Busan.

The new Korean racing season gets underway at Busan on Friday January 6.

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.



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.