Full Forest

Indian Blue Closes To Sports Donga Success

Indian Blue lived up to her reputation as one of Seoul’s top horses over any distance as she walked off with the Sports Donga Cup this afternoon.

Indian Blue and Ikuyasu Kurakane return as winners of the Sports Donga

Indian Blue and Ikuyasu Kurakane return as winners of the Sports Donga

Remarkably, the 4-year-old Indian Blue (Henny Hughes) had won only 4 of her 15 starts coming into today’s race. However, a 3rd and a 2nd in consecutive Ttukseom Cups, a 2nd in the KRA Cup Classic and a 4th in the Grand Prix Stakes meant the raw statistics didn’t really tell the full story.

Add in a sprint victory over Watts Village, Korea’s “Hero of Ohi” and it was no surprise that punters sent her off the short-priced favourite in a field of 14 for the Sports Donga.

She didn’t disappoint. Under Ikuyasu Kurakane, Indian Blue was inevitably the fastest of a group of closers who took charge in the home straight. Hitting the front with a furlong to run – early by her standards, Indian Blue was pushed all the way by Wonder Bolt but never looked in serious danger.

In third place there was a welcome return to form for 2012 KRA Cup Classic winner Sing Sing Cat but the highly though of pair of Double Shining and Kentucky Galloper disappointed.

Going forward, there are plenty of options for Indian Blue. The remaining legs of the Queens’ Tour will be attractive but so will a the Busan Metropolitan in July. Further on, a second tilt at the Korea vs Japan Goodwill race in August – with its prospect of an international rating and subsequent trip to Dubai – should be on the agenda.

Down at Busan, the JRA Kokura Racecourse Trophy was the main event. And while at Seoul it was one of the up-and-comers taking the plaudits, this race went to one of the elder statesmen of the sand as 8-year-old Full Forest (Full Mandate) took victory by a length.

Debuting in 2008, Full Forest was making his 58th start and recorded his first win since Janaury 2012 – and only his 7th in all. Over the years he’s had many jockeys – including the tragic pair of Park Jin Hee and Yoshi Aoki – but today it was the turn of Kim Yong Geun, who made the race his 4th win of the afternoon.

A fine ride it was too as he guided Full Forest into contention as they entered the home straight before passing long-time leader Star Bolt inside the final furlong to win going away.

Next weekend, Stakes action returns to Seoul in the form of the Seoul Owners’ Association Trophy.

Ace Galloper Does His Job

Dangdae Bulpae Beaten / Sad sub-plot to Seoul’s Feature

Four horses came into Sunday’s feature races at Seoul and Busan with high expectations. Only one could live up to them.

Ace Galloper and Park Tae Jong return as winners

At Busan, both Dangdae Bulpae and Jeonseong Sidae found themselves on the wrong end of a blanket finish but at Seoul Ace Galloper came out with his head held high after a battling win which saw champion mare Top Point well beaten.

Dangdae Bulpae (Biwa Shinseiki) hadn’t raced since successfully defending his President’s Cup crown in November and he was sent off the slight favourite ahead of Aussie import Jeonseong Sidae (Stromberg Carlson).

As they entered the home straight it was these two who looked set to battle out the finish. However, they reckoned without a late challenge on the outside from old warrior Yeonseung Daero (Creek Cat) and, even more surprisingly, 21/1 outsider Full Forest (Full Mandate) who ultimately got the decision in a tight five-way finish.

It was a disappointing start to 2012 for Dangdae Bulpae, a horse who was undoubtedly the outstanding Korean bred competitor of last year. For Full Forest, a veteran US bred six-year-old, it was the biggest of six wins from thirty-five career starts.

Up at Seoul, KRA Cup Classic winner Ace Galloper (Chapel Royal) didn’t have things all his own way but ultimately came out on top of a very competitive handicap. Main rival Top Point (Tom Cruiser), the champion mare of 20111 disappointed but Blue Pin (Lion Heart) pushed Ace Galloper all the way to the line, the margin of victory being just a neck on the line.

Ace Galloper and Blue Pin have the kind of connection that only horse racing – for all its joys and all its heartbreaks – can give. Ace Galloper, who is now five-years old, was not an especially impressive two-year-old.

However, in his second start, on July 25, 2009, he finished second – a very distant second – to a horse called Northern Ace. They were racing over five furlongs that day and Northern Ace, a ten-length winner, broke the track record. Tragically, Northern Ace (Didyme) went on to fatally break-down during the Korean Derby in May 2010.

Northern Ace was the first Korean bred foal out of mare Telegraph Road (Royal Academy). Champion Belt, currently one of Busan’s top horses was the second. When she arrived in Korea in early 2006 though, she was in foal to Lion Heart. That foal would be called Blue Pin.

Today we salute Ace Galloper who is a truly a great champion. But we also remember Northern Ace. And all those others whose potential was cruelly taken away.