Grand Prix

2019 Grand Prix Stakes Sunday: Race-By-Race for Seoul & Busan (December 8)

The season finale Grand Prix Stakes takes place at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday. It’s no longer the richest race in the nation, nor the biggest in terms of betting, but it’s the oldest race on the Korean calendar and one that everybody wants to win. This year the race is sponsored by MBC and will be shown live on their MBC Sports+ channel. There are 11 races at Seoul from 10:45 to 18:00 while at Busan there are 6 from 12:40 to 17:10. 

KRA Grand Prix Finish 2018 Triple Nine Cheongdam Dokki Today

A year ago, Triple Nine beat Cheongdam Dokki and Today to land the Grand Prix at the fourth time of asking (Pic: Ross Holburt/KRA)

Cheongdam Dokki, 4th two years ago and runner-up last year, is set to be favourite. Here’s the long version of the video preview:

And the shorter version:

Horse by horse:

  1. SHAMROCKER – A horse with far more talent than his 6 wins from 37 starts suggests, the six-year-old has spent his career running in the best races and chasing home the best horses, first Clean Up Joy, then Cheongdam Dokki and Moonhak Chief. This is his first time in this race, but he comes in having been his usual solid self over the season. He probably can’t win this, but he will run on strong late and can run into some money. He is the only horse in the race to have won at this distance – albeit a long time ago.

 

  1. TODAY – A revelation a year ago when 3rd to Triple Nine having briefly led close to home. He was still thought of as a sprinter then having never previously run further than a mile. He backed up his staying credentials by winning over 2000M a month later but then suffered an injury which kept him out of action until September when he returned in the Korea Sprint. That was too much too soon but he was 3rd to Dolkong and Cheongdam Dokki in the Cup Classic in October and then 2nd to stablemate Baengmunbaekdap over 1400M three weeks ago. He may be peaking at the right time. He’ll aim to lead from the start.

 

  1. NEW YORK MANGCHI – Stablemate of Today and not to be overlooked. He has though been handily beaten by Great King of two of his latest three starts – although he did previously beat him – which suggests he may well be found wanting when facing the very best here. Distance shouldn’t be a problem – he was 2nd to Great King over 2200M in September. Capable of running fast sectionals late on but may have too much to do.

 

  1. SILVER WOLF – The great mare. She’s a perfect five for five in 2019 although with the rules changed this year enabling her to participate in the Queens’ Tour races, she’s only faced the boys on one occasion. That was the Seoul Owners’ Association Trophy over 1200M where an out of sorts Cheongdam Dokki was among those she beat. We learned little from her three easy Queens’ Tour wins except that she is in good form. She ran in this race two years ago and found it tough but is arguably better now. A big placing chance.

 

  1. SHARK DAEJANGGEUN – By some margin the lowest rated horse in the field although he does tend to take on stiff company. Ran a good 2nd in the JRA Trophy on international weekend in September before finishing an excellent 5th in the President’s Cup a month ago. He is a closer so the additional trip will likely suit him, but the quality of the opposition should be too much here.

 

  1. GREAT KING – Enters in very good form having won his latest two in fine fashion leading all the way over 2200M and 2000M. with the likes of New York Mangchi, Jumbo Blade and Dongbang Daero behind him. He’ll go to the front here and while leading for the entire 2300M at Seoul is no easy task, he looks a quality horse who should go close.

 

  1. MOONHAK CHIEF – Sixth last year, he made his breakthrough at the elite level when winning the YTN Cup by a full twelve-lengths back in May before pushing Dolkong very close in the Busan Mayor’s Cup the following month. He then beat Cheongdam Dokki to comfortably win the international Korea Cup over 1800M in September. A lackluster performance in the KRA Cup Classic in October is of some concern but if he’s at his best, he will be a big danger. Antonio Da Silva, who rode him in Busan this summer, replaces the injured Moon Se Young aboard. He’ll be challenging for the lead at the start.

 

  1. JUMBO BLADE – A decent competitor but he has been beaten by several of these in his recent outings and form of 6th, 5th and 5th doesn’t inspire a huge amount of confidence. Likely to settle in the middle of the pack, he should see out the trip without any problems, but the competition looks too stiff.

 

  1. CHEONGDAM DOKKI – Could it finally be his year? He has a 4th and a 2nd to his name in the race and he enters the likely favourite. He had a difficult start to the year but his performances in his latest two outings when 2nd in both the Korea Cup and the KRA Cup Classic suggest that he is – if not back to his absolute best – at least somewhere approaching it. Whereas in the past two runnings he has set the early pace, this time he’ll most likely be content to let others do the early work. He is the one to beat.

 

  1. DONGBANG DAERO – Ran a huge 2nd to Power Blade in this race two years ago, finishing superbly and only denied a head at odds in excess of 150/1. His form since has only been patchy though and he comes in having been well beaten in his latest two. We know he likes the track and the distance suits, but it would be a big surprise were he to repeat his former heroics

And race by race for Seoul:

Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

The first on the card will see twelve Korean-bred gallopers go over the short course. Hansen filly (3) ONE AND ONLY gets a good opportunity to notch a win at her second start. She was good on debut when finishing fourth running a fast time when compared to her opposition in this assignment. She has drawn well and should take improvement from her first run. (6) LADY KELLY trialed well when qualifying for her first start. She was strong through the line and should be ready for a forward showing at her first start. (5) BAEKSAN THUNDER sat on speed at her first start before feeling the pinch late. She still clocked a good time given the track rating, expect improvement as from the Thunder Moccasin filly. (9) GRAND FLY looks the best of the rest handing in a fair trial performance.

Selections (3) One And Only (6) Lady Kelly (5) Baeksan Thunder (9) Grand Fly

Next Best 4, 1

Fast Start 3, 5

 

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

A field of twelve Korean bred maidens will go over the 1300m in the second event. (11) P.K. DOLPUNG was much-improved last time out when finishing second behind Jangsu Nabom. Lee Hyeok put him into the race early last start and it is assumed that he will employ those tactics once again. He has drawn wide but look for him to come across shortly after they jump. (7) SISEONJIPJUNG ran on strong from well last time out over the 1300m. Well performed rider Lim Gi-Won will ride the Volponi colt for the first time. He struggles to muster speed early so expect another strong sectional from him. (3) SUN FIGHTING is a place chance if she continues to improve. She is lightly weighted and has drawn well. (9) ACE SHINE has placed at his past two starts. He drops back significantly in distance to 1300m and will have to lump the top weight from a wide draw. Johan Victoire, who comes off a riding treble last weekend will be looking to settle the Colors Flying colt in the first half of the field.

Selections (11) P.K. Dolpung (7) Siseonjipjung (3) Sun Fighting (9) Ace Shine

Next Best 8, 11

Fast Start 8, 9, 11

 

Race 3: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

The third on the card is wide open with several chanced engaged. Two-year-old filly (10) GEOSEN JILJU saluted over this distance last start when breaking maiden status is Class 6 company. She posted an impressive time for this class when leading throughout, expect Park Eul-Woon to work forward from the wide draw and try and take up the running once again. (6) YEONGGWANGUI BEAT cannot be discounted as a winning chance. The Clear Attempt gelding ran on last start from near last to finish second behind Dynamic Punch. Yoo Seung-Wan will be legged aboard him for his assignment, it appears he has options as the horse has previously been settled both on speed or worse than midfield. (4) KINGLY is still looking for his first victory but ran a handy race last time out in this (more…)

Power Blade’s Grand Prix The Best Yet

On Sunday, we probably saw the best Grand Prix Stakes we ever have. The 2015 edition, won by Bold Kings, was outstanding, while for those of us who go in for that sort of thing, Tough Win’s 2011 victory over fellow “troika” members, Mister Park and Smarty Moonhak will always be special, even if the race itself wasn’t that exciting.  Power Blade’s victory this year, on the other hand, was in a race that involved a win by a genuine star in a contest that wasn’t settled until the final stride.

Power Blade Grand Prix Fnish1

Power Blade wins the Grand Prix (Pic: KRA)

Cheongdam Dokki, the three-year-old favourite, set a pace that was quite brutal by Korean standards. In a Grand Prix Stakes, only Ugildongja in 2009 and Beolmaui Kkum in 2014 had set anything close to his early sectionals – and both finished well back in their respective fields. Cheongdam Dokki didn’t. The final time of Power Blade broke the 2300M track record by over a second and was precisely three seconds quicker than the fastest previous Grand Prix – the aforementioned 2009 edition, which was won by Dongbanui Gangja.

The horses who went with Cheongdam Dokki – or at least tried to – simply had nothing left for the closing stages; Diferent Dimension, Dynamic Dash and last to succumb, Silver Wolf, fading through the pack. The only one who kept pace early and had something to offer was the outstanding Triple Nine. Lim Sung Sil, possibly fearing that Cheongdam Dokki was simply too good, began to get after Triple Nine as they began the long turn for home, a full four-furlongs out, in order to keep up with the leader. At the same time Oh Kyung Hwan on Power Blade and Park Jae I on Dongbang Daero opted to save energy and allowed their mounts a more leisurely trip, ultimately paying huge dividends in the closing stages.

It is therefore perhaps testament to the sheer ability of Triple Nine and the huge potential of Cheongdam Dokki that they still managed to finish 3rd and 4th respectively after such stiff early efforts. Less than three lengths separated the winner and 5th placed Buhwarui Banseok.

Power Blade Grand Prix Winners Circle

Power Blade in the Grand Prix winner’s circle (Pic: KRA)

Dongbang Daero had finished 3rd behind Saengil Gippeum in what was a trial for the Grand Prix over 2200M at Busan at the beginning of November. Saengil Gippeum blew them away that day but Dongbang Daero had finished the quickest, running on very nicely to become involved in a finish in which there was just half a length separating 2nd and 6th. Buhwarui Banseok was also involved in that finish and he too ran on very well on Sunday.

Last year’s winner Clean Up Joy didn’t look the part before the race and never really featured, ending up in 7th place.

It became clear around two furlongs out that Cheongdam Dokki wasn’t going to be able to keep things up the whole way around. Triple Nine got first crack at him but Power Blade and Dongbang Daero simply had too much in reserve and Power Blade’s class saw him home by a Head on the line.

It is a shame that neither Triple Nine nor Power Blade will be returning to the Dubai World Cup Carnival as both look eminently capable of winning a race this time around. Connections have other plans, however, and hopefully they’ll get a nice long rest through the worst of the winter – although in all honesty, it would be no surprise to see one or other lining up in a nondescript Class 1 handicap come February. The pair of them have been such good ambassadors for Korean racing over the past three seasons, that they went overseas even once is something we can be grateful for. That trip, plus their showings in the Korea Cup and Sprint demonstrated that the pair of them could hold their own to a good (not elite, but good) standard anywhere.

Trainer Kim Young Kwan can divide opinions, but there can be no denying that when a horse of his comes out to run in a big race, his team will have it in peak condition and Triple Nine and Power Blade are the epitome of this – Triple Nine’s Godolphin Mile aside (and he was in desperate need of a spell then), they never seem to have an off-day.

Both now have claims to be the top Korean-bred horse ever. Power Blade’s Triple Crown and Grand Prix matching up with Triple Nine’s President’s Cup hat-trick. Their prize money earnings are almost identical with both breaking the 3 Billion Won barrier at the Grand Prix.  They’ve raced each other seven times now with Triple Nine leading the head-to-head by 4 to 3  – although Power Blade has now won three of their last four meetings.

We head into 2018 with plenty to be excited about on track. Cheongdam Dokki’s development along with the pair who ultimately didn’t run in the Grand Prix, Dolkong and New Citadel. Then there is the emergence of a new domestic three-year-old crop which looks stronger than this year’s. Still on top for now though are Power Blade and Triple Nine and next year they will still only be five and six-years-old.

 

 

Magnificent Power Blade Wins the Grand Prix Stakes 2017

Power Blade, the 2016 Korean Triple Crown winner on Sunday topped even that, racing to victory in Korea’s most prestigious race, the Grand Prix Stakes.

Power Blade Grabd Prix

Power Blade in the Grand Prix winner’s circle (Pic. J. Kim)

3-year-old phenom Cheongdam Dokki was sent off as favourite for the 2300M season-finale with Triple Nine 2nd best in punter’s eyes ahead of Power Blade who started in excess of 12/1. Cheongdam Dokki did indeed set the pace in the early part of the race but once he got into unfamiliar territory in the home straight, he bag to tire. Triple Nine got first crack at him but ultimately it was Power Blade and – to the surprise of most – 150/1 Dongbang Daero who came through to dispute the finish, Power Blade triumphing by a Head on the line. Triple Nine was a game as ever 3rd with Cheongdam Dokki 4th and Bart Rice’s Buhwarui Banseok a very good 5th.

Grand Prix Stakes (KOR G1) – Seoul Racecourse – 2300M – December 10, 2017

1. Power Blade (KOR) [Menifee – Cheonachong (Lost Mountain)] – Oh Kyung Hwan – 13.1, 2.1
2. Dongbang Daero (USA) [Curlin – Willa Joe (El Gran Senor)] – Park Jae I – 17.0
3. Triple Nine (KOR) [Ecton Park – A Little Poke (Pleasant Tap)] – Lim Sung Sil – 1.0
Distances: Head / 1.25 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Cheongdam Dokki (USA) 5. Buhwarui Banseok (USA) 6. Champ Line (KOR) 7. Clean Up Joy (USA 8. Silver Wolf (AUS) 9. Dynamic Dash (USA) 10. Saengil Gippeum (USA) 11. Cheonjeok (USA) 12. Diferent Dimension (USA)

More to follow.

Sunday Seoul & Busan: Grand Prix Stakes Day Race-By-Race Preview (December 10)

Sunday is Grand Prix Stakes Day! Full preview of the big race is here. There are 11 races at Seoul from 10:45 to 18:00 while down at Busan there are 6 races from 12:40 to 17:05. Here’s the full race-by-race preview of the other races on the card:

Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 22 Million

(10) M.J. CAPTAIN beat (11) ARES THUNDER as the pair ran 4th and 5th over the distance on November 11th. The former also has a 2nd place to his name and could make the breakthrough here. For Ares Thunder that was an improvement and he can go well as well. The Yoshida-owned (3) CONKER has shown steady improvement over five races so far and comes into consideration with a likely fast start while (6) RUBY BEOLKIN hasn’t been too far away in recent efforts and can make a bid for the places.

Selections (10) M.J. Captain (3) Conker (11) Ares Thunder (6) Ruby Beolkin
Next Best 12, 5
Fast Start 1, 3, 5, 10

Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

Five first-timers go here but it’s the ones with experience that are likely to be favoured. (5) CHEONJI BOBAE is the pick. She’s been prominent in both starts so far and managed 2nd over this distance on November 11th. (1) TAMNA YEOSIN was an improved 4th in a decent contest at this distance a on what was her second outing. She led for much of that race and can come on more here. (6) LOVELY NUTE and (7) THUNDER WARRIOR should have learned from their debuts and can improve while of the first-time starters, (2) GOLDEN SKY and (10) GARA GARA GA look the pick.

Selections (5) Cheonji Bobae (1) Tamna Yeosin (7) Thunder Warrior  (10) Gara Gara Ga
Next Best 6, 2, 11
Fast Start 1, 5, 10, 11

Seoul Race 3: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

Fillies only here and plenty in the hunt. (9) ROYAL BOKSUNI is the only one among them to have even a 2nd place finish to her name, which she achieved two starts ago in a very similar race at this distance. She’s drawn in the same gate today and can get on the early speed and go all the way. That day, (10) CHOWON YEOJEONSA was 7th but she showed improvement at 1000M three weeks ago and can be given another chance here. (3) WIND (more…)

Grand Prix Stakes 2017: Full Preview

It’s the big one. The Grand Prix Stakes 2017 is here and 3yo potential phenom Cheongdam Dokki will clash with Triple Nine, Power Blade, Clean Up Joy and a host of the biggest names in Korean racing in the season-ending showpiece at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon (see the rundown on those four horses in the video below if you can get past my ridiculous bow-tie):

While the no-show of New Citadel and Dolkong is disappointing, this Grand Prix still has the potential to be special. Is Cheongdam Dokki as good as some think he is? Can Triple Nine finally win a Grand Prix at the third attempt? Can Clean Up Joy recover from his defeat at the hands of Cheongdam Dokki to retain the crown? Or perhaps something else can win. Favourites rarely win the Grand Prix with the unfamiliar distance and the time of year contributing to lots of uncertainty at each edition.

Cheongdam Dokki and Triple Nine look set to dispute favouritism with Power Blade and Clean Up Joy likely to be next best in the market. But there are plenty of wildcards. Queens’ Tour winner Silver Wolf takes her chance while the likes of Saengil Gippeum and Diferent Dimension should relish the opportunity to have a go at this distance. Buhwarui Banseok and Champ Line are not without their merits either. Dongbang Daero, Dynamic Dash and Cheonjeok round out a high class field. The race starts at 4.40pm Korea time and is available for betting on the PMU in Europe, TAB in Australia, and most ADW’s in the United States as well as at the turf clubs in Singapore and Malysia.

1 TRIPLE NINE (KOR) Having finished 4th in the Korea Cup in September and then suffering his second reverse to Power Blade, he came back into form to win his third straight President’s Cup last month, defeating his stablemate in the process. He can take a long time to hit top-gear but we know this distance can suit. 4th in 2015 and 2nd last year, it’s not impossible he could finish on top this time. Interesting – and perhaps not ideal – draw.
2 DYNAMIC DASH (USA) 7th behind Saengil Gippeum last month having led early on and 3rd behind Diferent Dimension the time before that. It’s been a long time since the most recent of his nine career wins and he’ll be one of the outsiders here.
3 SAENGIL GIPPEUM (USA) An excellent seven-length winner of Busan’s trial for this race over 2200M on November 5th brings him into contention. He was beaten by Diferent Dimension the time before but the manner of his win last time does warrant consideration for a surprise here. Unlikely to lead early but will probably be not too far from the pace.
4 DIFERENT DIMENSION (USA) Managed a 3rd place on turf at this year’s Dubai World Cup Carnival and returned to the winner’s circle in Busan over 2000M on October 22nd, making all over 2000M and beating Saengil Gippeum. Missed out on an intended run in this race last year, the distance should suit and a placing finish is possible. Generally leads or races very close to the early lead.
5 CHAMP LINE (KOR) Trained by Thomas Gillespie. Won five consecutive races up to April but has just gone gold a little since. Still 4th place last time behind Saengil Gippeum gives cause for optimism that form is on the up.
6 DONGBANG DAERO (USA) 8th in this race last yeat, he’s only won once since then but is rarey too far away. 3rd behind Saengil Gippeum at 2200M last month and an outside chance of cneaking into the money here. Recently, his running style has been to close.
7 SILVER WOLF (AUS) She won all three legs of the Queens’ Tour to become champion filly/mare this year, easily winning the finale over 2000M. She showed her versatility too with 5th place in the Korea Sprint. Obviously, today’s test is a stiff one but she’s well drawn to get close to the early lead and looks to be the wildcard. Stablemate of Clean Up Joy.
8 CHEONGDAM DOKKI (USA) The one to beat. Seven from eleven in total and winner of his last four including a comprehensive demolition of Clean Up Joy in the KRA Cup Classic. He hasn’t always been the most straightforward of colts but has behaved better in his last two. He’s won those latest four gate to wire and despite the increased distance it would be a surprise were he not to try to dominate this too. It’s not easy to do that in December in Seoul but he looks good enough.
9 BUHWARUI BANSEOK (USA) A slightly disappointing 6th behind Saengil Gippeum over 2200M last month but this is a very solid class 1 colt. First time at the distance and first time at Seoul. Tactically versatile, he’s trained by South African Bart Rice and should give a good account of himself.
10 CHEONJEOK (USA) 13th in last year’s race and the lowest rated this year and likely to be the outsider. 5 wins from 51, the most recent of those being in March. Last of 8 behind Cheongdam Dokki in the KRA Cup Classic in October. Top jockey booking though.
11 POWER BLADE (KOR) The 2016 Korean Triple Crown winner and Group 2 placed in Dubai. 2nd in the Korea Sprint to a Japanese horse, he beat Triple Nine at both 1400M and 1600M at Busan before coming up short in the President’s Cup here at Seoul over 2000M last month. 3rd in this race last year. Jockey change today – he is a tough ride – and while the distance may not be ideal, he can never be ruled out.
12 CLEAN UP JOY (USA) Last year’s winner. He began this year with three consecutive victories but then struggled in Busan in the Mayor’s Cup in July. He was a well-beaten 3rd behind Cheongdam Dokki in October’s KRA Cup Classic but by no means ran badly. He remains a strong horse and certainly can’t be ruled out but it could be that a couple of others have just got a bit better in the meantime. He will come out of the widest gate by request of his trainer.

Selections: (8) Cheongdam Dokki (1) Triple Nine (11) Power Blade (12) Clean Up Joy

Next Best: 7, 3, 4

Fast Start: 3, 4, 8

Clean Up Joy Wins The 2016 Grand Prix Stakes

Clean Up Joy downed Triple Nine and Power Blade to win the 2016 Korea Grand Prix Stakes at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon.

clean-up-joy

Clean Up Joy & Ham Wan Sik win the 35th Grand Prix Stakes (Pic: KRA)

Two-time President’s Cup winner Triple Nine was sent off as the odds-on favourite with Clean Up Joy splitting him and his stablemate, Triple Crown winner Power Blade, in the betting market.

And while Beolmaui Kkum set the early pace he was surprisingly joined at the front right away by Clean Up Joy – generally a bad starter but here away very keenly from the outside gate. This was bad news for the field with the most proven stayer in the race already at the front.

Clean Up Joy looked strong all the way around. Just as in the Korea Cup, Beolmaui Kkum’s race was over early and it was left to Triple Nine and Power Blade to give chase in the home straight. However, Clean Up Joy was away. His five-length advantage at the top of the stretch was down to under two on the line but jockey Ham Wan Sik had time to ease up and pose for the cameras as they passed the line.

Triple Nine was 2nd, besting Power Blade for the third time in a row before they both head to Dubai later this week. Goliath Marine ran a huge race in 4th while the ever honest Heba came home an excellent 5th.

Clean Up Joy (Purge) is a 5-year-old gelding. He was  $14,000 purchase from the OBS June 2013 Two-Year-Old sales. The Grand Prix was his 11th win on his 21st career start and took him to career earnings of over US$1.25Million. It was a career highlught win for both trainer Song Moon Gil and jockey Ham Wan Sik.

It also saw the Grand Prix being won by a horse trained at Seoul for the first time since Tough Win’s triumph in 2011 and means that whatever happens, the traditional season-ending finale will be run in the capital once more next year.

Grand Prix (KOR G1) – Seoul Racecourse – 2300M – Dec 18, 2016

1. Clean Up Joy (USA) [Purge – Greta’s Joy (Joyeaux Danseur)] – Ham Wan Sik – 5.5. 1.7
2. Triple Nine (KOR) [Ecton Park – A Little Poke (Pleasant Tap)] – Seo Seung Un – 1.0
3. Power Blade (KOR) [Menifee – Cheonmacheong (Lost Mountain)] – Kim Yong Geun – 2.1
Distances: 1.25 lengths / 5 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Goliath Marine (KOR) 5. Heba (USA) 6. CLean Up Cheonha (USA) 7. Success Story (KOR) 8. Dongbang Daero (USA) 9. Unbeatable (USA) 10. Speace Port (USA) 11. Gumpo Sky (KOR) 12. Halla Chukje (USA) 13. Cheonjeok (USA) 14. Winner Red (USA) 15. Muhudaeje (USA) 16. Beolmaui Kkum (USA)

Grand Prix Sunday Seoul & Busan: Race-By-Race Preview (December 18)

It’s The Grand Prix Stakes 2016. Full runner by runner guide to the big race is here. There are plenty of other races going on as well. English race cards are here. Notes on every overseas simulcast race are below:

Seoul Race 1: Class 6 / 1200M / Allowance / KRW 40 Million / 10:40

(10) GOLDEN STEP was a much improved 2nd on his second start and can make the breakthrough here under Djordje Perovic. Gate 10 isn’t idea though so many punters may look to (1) DEO MIREO BUCHEO, another one who has shown improvement across three prior starts. Among the others with experience, (8) GEOCHIN OREUM and (9) RAON ROCKY both have 3rd places to their name while of the two debut-makers, (5) HUNTER HAWK looks the best.

Selections: (10) Golden Step (1) Deo Mireo Bucheo (9) Raon Rocky (8) Geochin Oreum
Next Best: 5, 3
Rating: –
Fast Starters: 9, 10, 1, 8, 6
Start-200M: 9, 10, 1, 8, 6
200M-Finish: 2, 12, 10, 9, 8

Seoul Race 2: Class 6 / 1000M / Allowance / KRW 20 Million / 11:05

(10) DANBI comes in having been 4th in both her last two starts and despite the outside gate, really should be getting a career best finish here. She can win against underwhelming opposition. Main danger could come from the other side of the gate as (1) ENDLESS LOVE also finds herself in against weaker opposition than she’s used to and she too should be getting her best finish to date. (2) FIRE BALL has been one-paced but reliable so far and can find the money while other factors may be (5) UNAK HABIO and (9) LITTLE WING.

Selections: (10) Danbi (1) Endless Love (2) Fire Ball (5) Unak Habio
Next Best: 9, 6
Rating: –
Fast Starters: 2, 3, 5, 10
Start-200M: 10, 2, 3, 5, 8
200M-Finish: 4, 10, 2, 1, 5 (more…)

Voting Underway For Grand Prix Stakes 2016

Voting is underway for invitations to the 2016 Grand Prix Stakes which is set for Seoul Racecourse on Sunday December 18. Fifteen horses from Seoul and seventeen from Busan are on the ballot for the 2300M contest which will have a maximum field size of sixteen and could well be bereft of any previous winners of the traditional season-ending finale.

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Bold Kings beat Gumpo Sky and Clean Up Joy in a terrific Grand Prix last year. The winner is retired but the 2nd and 3rd are expected to line-up again (Pic: KRA)

The race is based on Japan’s season-ending Arima Kinen in which entry is also decided by a punters’ vote although admittedly, on a much smaller scale. Voting is open for registered users of the KRA’s homepage (www.kra.co.kr) and runs through until Monday November 28.

Horses expected to score highly in the vote from Seoul include KRA Cup Classic winner Clean Up Joy and Ttukseom Cup winner and Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup runner-up Bichui Jeongsang. From Busan, President’s Cup winner Triple Nine and Triple Crown winner Power Blade will of course score highly enough to receive invitations but there will be plenty of votes too for the likes of Beolmaui Kkum, Heba, Gumpo Sky, Diferent Dimension, Dongbang Daero and now, possibly after her Sunday win, Ms. Margaux. Here is the full list of horses on the ballot paper (2016 Stakes winners listed first):

Seoul

Miso Wangja (YTN Cup)
Bichui Jeongsang (Ttukseom Cup)
Clean Up Joy (KRA Cup Classic)
Touch Flying (Ilgan Sports Cup)
Winner Red
Space Port
Halla Chukje
Meni Music
Mighty Gem
Unbeatable
Theme Deunggeuk
Clean Up Cheonha
Cheonjeok
Muhudaeje
Heart Roy

Busan

Power Blade (KRA Cup Mile, Korean Derby, Minister’s Cup)
Gamdonguibada (Busan Ilbo Cup)
Triple Nine (Owners’ Cup, President’s Cup)
Beolmaui Kkum (Busan Mayor’s Cup)
Santa Gloria
Dynamic Dash
Mainstay
Success Story
Tohamsan
Miracle Line
Dongbang Daero
Diferent Dimension
Ms. Margaux
Heba
Gumpo Sky
Beolmaui Sin
Goliath Marine

If Gamdonguibada doesn’t make it in – and unless a lot of invitations are declined, there’s a strong chance she won’t – this will be the first Grand Prix in recent years not to feature a previous winner. Gamdonguibada won the race as a three-year-old all the way back in 2012 and is the only past champion still in training. 2013 winner Indie Band, 2014’s Gyeongbudaero and last year’s champion Bold Kings have all been retired.

In fact, the last time there were no previous winners in the starting line-up was 2003, when the race was won by Tempest West (Silent Tempest). Defending champion Bohamian Butler (Patton) was entered but was a late scratching on the day – he never ran again.

Grand Prix Stakes Day – Final Preview

So 79% of the Korean racing media – and there is a lot of Korean racing media – have Triple Nine down as their top choice to become the third horse in as many years to complete the President’s Cup and Grand Prix Stakes double.

Gyeongbudaero won the President's Cup and Grand Prix last year. Triple Nine aims to do the same this (Pic: KRA)

Gyeongbudaero won the President’s Cup and Grand Prix last year. Triple Nine aims to do the same this (Pic: KRA)

With that in mind, it seems likely that the Kim Young Kwan trained three-year-old will start a strong favourite to follow Indie Band and Gyeongbudaero in winning the season-ending showpiece at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon.

Favourites don’t always win though and you have to go back to 2009, when Dongbanui Gangja beat a weak field of nine rivals to win the race for the second time, to find the last market leader who triumphed in the Grand Prix.

Dongbanui Gangja was the third horse to win two Grands Prix but Gamdonguibada, winner in 2012 and a stablemate of Triple Nine, could be the one to take advantage if the favourite falters as she bids to become the fourth. Also likely to get plenty of support is the unbeaten Bold Kings. The three-year-old, trained by Peter Wolsley, has won all six of his starts to date including Busan’s trial for this race. He is far less experienced than his rivals here but has done nothing wrong so far.

Next year’s race will be held at the home track of this year’s winner. As Seoul horses generally perform dismally when the two tracks meet, there is a real fear in the capital that if the race disappears down South next year, it could be a very long time before it comes back. Clean Up Joy, Chief Red Can and Cinderella Man are the best hopes for keeping the race at Gwacheon.

As for the race itself, Gumpo Sky and Nobody Catch Me are expected to provide the early pace, Bold Kings, Cinderella Man, Triple Nine and Gamdonguibada should all be reasonably handy but plenty of the others, including Clean Up Joy, will be in no hurry at all – the last time the winner of this race led from gate to wire was 1998 and it was over 2000M then rather than today’s 2300M.

In terms of going, on Saturday at Seoul the track contained 12% moisture for an official going of “Wet” following rain earlier in the week. No rain is forecast before the race though and it should be a reasonably mild day. With the race starting at 5pm, the floodlights will be on.

The race is being simulcasted for betting in France by the PMU alongside their Hong Kong International Races coverage and in addition to the Grand Prix, European punters will also be able to bet on race 10 from Seoul – a bog-standard class 2 handicap.

It’s not every day that such thoroughbred greats as Socheonha (2 wins from 59) and Nuri Narae (1 from 26) find themselves being screened on another continent.

Nevertheless this motley set of plodders could have themselves quite a good race with almost all of them having claims in the 1200M contest. The favourites should be the pair of Raons, Raon Smart and Raon Rusa. While neither have yet scored at this level, they both look to have scope for further development. Both will probably try to lead from the gate.

The aforementioned pair of Nuri Narae and Socheonha can also compete while Taeyangbeol, making his first start since being transferred from Busan, won a barrier trial a couple of weeks ago and can go well under Lee Chan Ho. Dream Ft. and Namsan Chukje also should be considered.

The Grand Prix Stakes is race 9 at Seoul and will come under orders at 5pm. Click here for the full runner-by-runner preview. In total there are 10 races at Seoul from 10:50am to 6pm. There is also a card at Busan with 6 races from 12:45pm to 5:30pm with the feature race involving last month’s Jeju Governor’s Cup winner Queen’s Blade. She will be ridden by Masa Tanaka on what could be the Japanese jockey’s last ride in Korea.

The Grand Prix Stakes 2015: Full Preview

The most prestigious race of the Korean season is upon us and a full field of sixteen will line up at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon for the 34th running of the Grand Prix Stakes.

Fujii Gamdonguibada

Gamdonguibada won the Grand Prix Stakes in 2012. She is back this year but will have tough competition

And with the home track of the winning horse set to host the race next year, it could be the last time for a while that the Grand Prix is in the capital. The last three winners have all come from Busan (one of them, Gamdonguibada returns for another crack this time) and there is every chance that could be repeated here.

For the past two years, the winner of the President’s Cup has gone on to win the Grand Prix and in Triple Nine, that record could be set to continue. Busan also brings up the undefeated Bold Kings, Queens’ Tour winner Heba and the dangerous Nobody Catch Me among a nine-strong challenge.

For the home team, Cinderella Man (formerly a Busan horse himself and now with his own facebook page) leads the charge but it is a field this year that offers genuine depth and should make for a very interesting race which, for the second year running, will be available to European bettors through the PMU. Here is a full run down of the field.

Grand Prix Stakes (KOR G1) – Seoul Racecourse – 2300M – Dec. 13, 2015

Name [Pedigree] Sex Age (Starts/1st/2nd/3rd) Trainer (Home track) Jockey

1. Cinderella Man (KOR) [Southern Image – Tiza Fast Kat (Tiznow)] G 4 (17/10/4/0) Lee Shin Young (Seoul) – Moon Se Young
Nine of his ten wins came at Busan before he was permanently transferred to Seoul this summer. In his first race in the capital, the KRA Cup Classic, he was ridden too quickly too early and faded badly in the straight but has since put in a couple of impressive performances and last month won the Grand Prix trial over this distance. Champion jockey Moon Se Young rides. This is a very strong contender.

2. Gamdonguibada (USA) [Werblin – Radyla (Country Pine)] M 6 (29/14/4/6) Kim Young Kwan (Busan) – Pasquale Borelli
The only previous winner of the race set to line up here, Gamdonguibada was victorious as a three-year-old in 2012. She was unable to follow up in 2013 but has gone on to become very successful in big Stakes races, winning the Queens’ Tour in 2014. This year she won the Busan Mayor’s Cup in July over a mile before taking a trip to Singapore where she was an also-ran at one of her lesser-favoured distances. She hasn’t run since then but remains one of the highest-rated horses in Korea and must be respected. Italian jockey Pasquale Borelli is in good form.

3. Nobody Catch Me (USA) [With Distinction – Nana’s Babe (Allen’s Prospect)] G 5 (22/6/5/2) Min Jang Gi (Busan)¬ – Kim Yong Geun
Just six career wins but one of those was in the Busan Mayor’s Cup last year. He ran in the Grand Prix a year ago, crossing the line in 10th but was disqualified for interference. This July he went to Kranji in Singapore and scored a creditable 6th place in a 1200M sprint. Since returning to Korea, he has raced twice, with a 2nd over 2000M but then a disappointing performance in the trial for this race behind Bold Kings last month. He went too fast too early and faded badly in the straight. He is still the 2nd highest rated horse in Korea though and makes his first start here for a new trainer. With a slightly more conservative ride, he should do better.

4. Unbeatable (USA) [Eddington – Baxter Hall (Rahy)] H 5 (36/6/6/9) Lim Bong Chun (Seoul) – Djordje Perovic
Despite the name, he is anything but unbeatable although he is a regular money winner at class 1. He hasn’t actually won since March and he was 3rd behind Chief Red Can and Clean Up Cheonha in the KRA Cup Classic in August. He participated in the trial for this race last month and finished in 5th place behind Cinderella Man and as a result, he will be one of the outsiders here. Serbian jockey Djordje Perovic is a top booking.

5. Goji Jeongbeol (USA) [Congrats – I Love Cindy (Adonis)] G 4 (21/5/4/5) Baik Kwang Yeol (Busan) – You Hyun Myung
Another who is coming into the best form of his career at the end of his four-year-old season, he landed back-to-back wins over 2000M in September and October, the latter at class 1 and then ran Bold Kings very close in the 2200M trial race on November 8th, just being beaten a neck on the line. A few months ago he would not even have been considered for this but the distance should be ideal and while he won’t be among the top line of favourites, one of Busan’s top jockeys comes to ride him and he could be very interesting.

6. Bold Kings (USA) [Afleet Express – Bold Arrival (Gilded Time)] C 3 (6/6/0/0) Peter Wolsley (Busan)¬¬ – Jo Sung Gon
Currently the most exciting prospect in Korean racing, Bold Kings is unbeaten in six starts to date, the two most recent being at Class 1 level. He won Busan’s trial for this race, a 2200M handicap in early November by a head, really working hard and beating a couple of the others nominated here. Every time he has raced he has got better and while the Grand Prix is a tough ask of such an inexperienced horse, he can win and will be one of the favourites.

7. Damyang Chukje (USA) [Good Reward – Strategy (A.P. Indy) H 6 (30/5/3/4) Bae Hou Jun (Seoul) – Lim Gi Won
He has only raced four times in 2015, beginning with a win over 2000M in March. He hasn’t been able to follow up though and most recently beat just two home in the trial over 2300M on November 8th. That doesn’t lend itself to him receiving a huge amount of support here and he will be one of the outsiders.

8. Clean Up Cheonha (USA) [El Corredor – Loh Callado (More Than Ready)] C 4 (16/7/6/2) Kim Hyo Seob (Seoul) – Lee Chan Ho
A stablemate of Clean Up Joy, he is actually rated two points higher currently and put together a four-race winning streak, all of them at Class 1, earlier this year. He was 2nd to Chief Red Can in the KRA Cup Classic in August before being dropped in distance to 1400M last month when he finished to quickest but was just beaten a neck on the line. A winner over 2000M in the past, the distance shouldn’t be a problem and he is in with a chance.

9. Gandai (KOR) [Don’t Get Mad – Gamble To Victory (Prospector’s Gamble)] H 5 (39/8/2/5) Kim Nam Jung (Busan) – Song Keong Yun
It is always dangerous to overlook this one. A very reliable and honest campaigner, he may just find himself a little overmatched racing at the very top level. He was though a class 1 winner over 2000M in September, beating Nobody Catch Me and Cheonjae Bogo very handily and was then 3rd behind Bold Kings and Goji Jeongbeol over 2200M at the start of November. He won’t be one of the favourites but he will have some backers to find at least the minor money.

10. Triple Nine (KOR) [Ecton Park – A Little Poke (Pleasant Tap)] C 3 (11/7/4/0) Kim Young Kwan (Busan) – Choi Si Dae
For the past two years, the winner of the President’s Cup has gone on to win the Grand Prix; Indie Band in 2013 and Gyeongbudaero in 2014. This year, Triple Nine, 2nd in the Korean Derby, won the President’s Cup by a comfortable three lengths and he looks to still have scope to get better. The extra distance should suit him perfectly and he has every chance. He likes to come from just off the pace, settling in 4th or 5th before unleashing a strong finish and he is hard to oppose.

11. Gumpo Sky (KOR) [Vicar – Perfect Storm (Didyme)] C 4 (25/9/7/3) Sung-J. Kwon (Busan) – Ikuyasu Kurakane
A very solid campaigner over the past couple of years, he finally made his Stakes breakthrough in the Busan Ilbo Cup in August, defeating a small field. He finished 6th in the Busan Mayor’s Cup in July and 5th in the President’s Cup last month and matching that finish would be a reasonable aim today. He will almost certainly set the early pace and should stay on. Ikuyasu Kurakane has ridden more winners in Korea than any other foreign jockey.

12. Sotong Sidae (KOR) [Gold Money – Myeonggauihuye (Black Minnaloushe)] G 4 (27/7/4/6) Ha Jae Heung (Seoul) – Park Byeong Yun
After being solid but unspectacular in the early part of his career, Sotong Sidae has really emerged as a force to be reckoned with in his four-year-old season. He won the Sports Chosun Cup over 2000M in August and then went on to score a very good 4th place behind Triple Nine in the President’s Cup last month having briefly led in the home straight. He generally settles towards the rear of the field and closes strongly, he won’t be many people’s first choice but he will be looking to find the money.

13. Heba (USA) [Peace Rules – Sue’s Temper (Temperence Hill)] M 5 (35/9/5/2) Sung-J. Kwon (Busan) – Makoto Okabe
Champion Filly & Mare of 2015 having won two legs of the Queens’ Tour, she was also third in the Busan Mayor’s Cup in the summer. In the best form of her career at the end of her five-year-old season, this is of course a tougher test and may be just one race to far but she will cope with the distance and a prize money finish can’t be ruled out. Japanese jockey Makoto Okabe rides at Seoul for the first time.

14. Cheonjae Bogo (NZ) [Royal Gem – Fuelled (Tanker Port)] G 7 (62/6/4/11) An Woo Sung (Busan) – Nozomu Tomizawa
A very solid campaigner although in the three years since he reached class 1, he has only managed the one victory at the top level. That came this June and was slightly fortunate in that the pre-race favourite was a late-scratching and another rival was pulled up. He was 4th in Busan’s Grand Prix trial and the distance will be fine for him but it is hard to see him being very competitive in this company.

15. Chief Red Can (USA) [Fantasticat – Deputy Lady (French Deputy)] G 5 (16/6/3/1) Park Chun Seo (Seoul) – Park Eul Woon
Always very sparingly campaigned, he has run no more than five times in any of his seasons to date. So far in 2015, he has had four outings and was been 2nd twice before following up with back to back wins. The most recent of those was the KRA Cup Classic at the end of August when he beat Clean Up Cheonha, Unbeatable and Cinderella Man over 2000M. He settled towards the rear that day, improving around the home turn and running on to win by three lengths. He should fit well in this company and while not a favourite, can acquit himself well.

16. Clean Up Joy (USA) [Purge – Greta’s Joy (Joyeux Danseur)] G 4 (13/6/5/0) Kim Hyo Seob (Seoul) – Ham Wan Sik
He was 4th in this race last year but has only run four times since in 2015, coming 2nd once and winning the other three. He beat Cinderella Man whilst carrying 59kg in October to land his second successive class 1 victory over 2000M and he can be very competitive here. In last year’s race he finished strongly having gone back early and may look to do similar again this time He is certainly one of Seoul’s strongest contenders and while the outside gate may not be ideal, he will be backed.