Gaon Champ

Classic Trials: Mask Beats Gaon Champ To Win Sports Seoul / Divide Wind Cruises At Busan

With the KRA Cup Mile, the first leg of the Triple Crown just a month away, there were Classic trials at both Seoul and Busan. At Seoul, Mask handed Gaon Champ his first defeat while at Busan, it was a Kim Young Kwan-trained one-two as Divide Win led home Captain Force.

Having already stepped up to – and won at – 1700M, Mask was likely headed to the Triple Crown trail anyway but he was only sent off as third-best in the betting for the Sports Seoul Cup behind the hitherto undefeated Gaon Champ and Seoul’s top juvenile of 2017, Choinma. It was Gaon Champ who showed the way early and at the top of the stretch looked poised to go on keep his 100% record intact.

Mask was too strong. Under the urging of Shin Hyung Chul, he came alongside Gaon Champ, who was all-out under Park Tae Jong, and went past in the final half furlong to win by just under a length. Choinma was a long way back in 3rd.

Mask (Testa Matta) has now won three from seven in total but crucially, both of this year’s outings. He’ll not find it easy in Busan though.

Sports Seoul Cup – Seoul Racecourse – 1400M – March 4, 2018

1. Mask (KOR) [Testa Matta – Fire And Vice (Latent Heat)] – Shin Hyung Chul – 6.0, 1.4
2. Gaon Champ (KOR) [Ecton Park – Ruby Queen (Badge Of Silver)] – Park Tae Jong – 1.1
3. Choinma (KOR) [Menifee – Kkummaeul(Curia Regis)] – Choi Bum Hyun – 1.1
Distances: 0.75 lengths / 8 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Sharp Kaylan 5. Sinui Myeongryeong 6. Seourui Byeol 7. Eclair Beauty 8. Meni Bada

Down South, the Kim Young Kwan machine grinds on relentlessly and even without Champion juvenile Ecton Blade lining up, it seemed inevitable he was going to saddle the winner of the Gyeongnam Shinmun.

Divide Wind (Menifee) was favourite and he made short-work of the field, running away in the closing stages to win by three-lengths on the line. Stablemate Captain Force (Peace Rules), a half-brother to 2016 Oaks winner Ottug Ottugi came home 2nd.

Gyeongnam Shinmun Cup – Busan Racecourse – 1400M – March 4, 2018

1. Divide Wind (KOR) [Menifee – Grand Slam (Grand Pass)] – You Hyun Myung – 2.6, 1.2
2. Captain Force (KOR) [Peace Rules – Main Objective (Lion Heart)] – Lee Hyo Sik – 1.2
3. World Sun (KOR) [Officer – Dancing Desire (Mr. Greeley)] – Lim Sung Sil – 1.2
Distance: 3 lengths / 1 length
Also Ran: 5. Captain Guy 6. Baedu Jeonggi 7. May Star 8. Bugyeong Bolt

In other news at Busan, Drop The Beat bested Haeya in the feature class 1 handicap, a sprint over 1400M.


Seoul & Busan Sunday: Race-By-Race Preview (March 4)

Choinma vs Gaon Champ at Seoul / Divide Wind vs Captain Force & Haeya vs Captain Blade at Busan

Sunday’s Sports Seoul Cup at Seoul Racecourse may have only attracted a field of eight-runners but it features two of the hottest three-year-olds at the track right now as Choinma and Gaon Champ meet over 1400M. Meanwhile at Busan, Divide Win faces stablemate Captain Force as well as Gimhae Mayor’s Cup winner Major Sun in another big three-year-old contest, the Gyeongnam Sinmun Cup


Choinma was Seoul’s best juvenile in 2017 but he didn’t have to race Gaon Champ (Pic: KRA)

Choinma was Seoul’s top juvenile of 2017 winning both the Gyeonggi Governor’s and Gwacheon Mayor’s Cups before running 2nd to Busan prospect Ecton Blade in the Breeders’ Cup in December.

Gaon Champ wasn’t involved in any of those races, however, the Ecton Park colt only debuted at the start of December and picked up two modest races before blowing away a strong field in a valuable juvenile race in December, two weeks after the Breeders’ Cup. He’s won his three starts to date by a combined margin of thirty-lengths. There have been concerns throughout about his soundness and he does race at 1400M for the first time, but he is reportedly fit and ready to go and will surely be hard to beat.

Choinma has raced once as a three-year-old already, surprisingly beaten into 2nd in his first try around two turns at 1700M in January but he is still very much in the hunt. Neither he nor Gaon Champ are front-runners so the early pace will most likely be set by Mask and Sinui Myeongryeong, both good prospects themselves, while Sharp Kaylan too looks a better horse than he was when beaten by Gaon Champ in December – since then he’s won two in a row by six and four-lengths respectively.

The Sports Seoul Cup is the highlight of an eleven-race Sunday program at Seoul while at Busan, The Gyeongnam Sinmun Cup headlines five races. Only Seoul is available on overseas simulcast so only full comments for Seoul but Busan Selections are at the bottom:

Race 1: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

This one looks to be (11) ROAN DOLPUNG’s to lose. The Victoire Pisa gelding didn’t show much in his first two starts but has since followed up with consecutive 3rd place finishes both at this distance and at 1000M and should take some beating today. Despite being drawn wide, he should get on the early speed and lead all the way. The others have plenty to find. (3) BLACK SPIRIT and (7) SPEED YEONGUNG have both hinted at some potential talent, the latter beating a couple of these on his latest outing. (8) EOMJI YEOWANG showed signs of improvement when 5th last start and could maintain that momentum here. (2) FIRST THUNDER the best of a limited rest.

Selections (11) Raon Dolpung (8) Eomji Yeowang (7) Speed Yeongung (3) Black Spirit
Next Best 2, 12
Fast Start 5, 6, 10, 11

Race 2: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(2) DAE CAIN was considered promising enough by connections to be given a run in Gwacheon Mayor’s Cup, one of Seoul’s top juvenile races, las October. He was overmatched, only beating two home. He has since bounced back and his latest two starts, both at this distance and ending in 4th and 2nd placed finishes suggest a maiden win isn’t too far away and he’s the pick to score. (10) ONLY BARAM enters off back to back 3rd places and should be competitive again, while one of those he beat a couple of starts ago, (6) MIGHTY COOL, hasn’t been too far away in his recent tries and can be close again. (7) RUN AWAY was an improved 4th last time and enters the placing frame as does (12) SKY DOLPUNG, who can be given another chance after a lacklustre effort behind Dae Cain a month ago.

Selections (2) Dae Cain (10) Only Baram (6) Mighty Cool (7) Run Away
Next Best 12, 11, 4
Fast Start 1, 7, 8, 9

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

(2) GULCHARMNAMUSUP finished strongly to record a maiden win on debut on January 20th and while she is up in class today, she showed enough to suggest she is going to be very dangerous once more. (4) GANGCHONUI BYEOL used different tactics on her own debut two weeks later, leading from the gate, but the result was the same as she made all for a very comfortable win and she too steps up in class. At least one 100% record is going to be broken and it could go either way. We’ll come down marginally on the side of Gulcharmnamusup. Should both be beaten then it’s another up in class one, (7) SEONGBUL CHAMP, who could be best placed to take advantage. She has never been worse than 5th and was a really good winner last start at this distance. (1) HI EUREKA was a decent class and distance 4th last time while (8) SIMPLE RULES is better than the 8th place he registered on his first try at this class back in December and should be better dropped back in trip today.

Selections (2) Gulcharmnamusup (4) Gangchonui Byeol (7) Seongbul Champ (8) Simple Rules
Next Best 6, 9
Fast Start 2, 4, 6, 7

Race 4: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(2) JEONGSANG DOLPUNG steps up in class today following a commanding four-length win over 1000M at the end of January. On his only previous try at this distance he led early only to fade to 5th late on but he should be better now and can stay on this time. The big danger is (7) HYEONMU. He couldn’t get on the early pace from a wide draw when well-backed last time but looks better positioned to do so today and is a proven performer at this class. (9) DICE KING must be respected entering as he does a class and distance winner a month ago. It wasn’t an especially strong race, but Dice King won (more…)