Gukje Sinmun Cup

Power Blade Pushed But Prevails On Busan Homecoming

Down in Australia on Saturday, only two showed up to face the phenom that is Winx. Korean Triple Crown winner Power Blade didn’t quite command that amount of respect on his return to his home track of Busan on Sunday but he came close with only four rivals venturing out against him – one of them a stablemate – in the Kookje Sinmun Cup.

In fairness, this has never been hugely supported race, despite its hefty prize money – boosted even further this year – but the whole day was very much billed as the Power Blade celebration day. This would be the first time the Busan-trained colt had races at his home track since winning the first jewel of the Triple Crown, the KRA Cup Mile, all the way back in April.

Since then, Power Blade has gone on to romp both the Derby and the Minister’s Cup, becoming the first horse to sweep the K-Triple Crown in its current format and then, despite looking as flat as a pancake in the build-up, registered a hugely creditable 4th place in the Korea Cup at Seoul last month.

A jaunt around seven furlongs at Busan was never going to be too taxing but Power Blade’s neighbour from a few boxes down in Kim Young Kwan’s barn is an interesting talent himself. As a juvenile, Seoul Bullet was part of the KRA’s “maybe the horse isn’t the problem” program, which involved sending Korean-bred horses overseas for early training and racing. He went to Florida where he actually managed to get claimed out of a race at Gulfstream Park (the KRA claimed him back the next time he was entered) and recorded one 3rd from 4 outings.

On his return from Korea Seoul Bullet joined some of the other returnees in proving that no, the Korean-bred horse isn’t the problem, winning 6 out 6 starts, including the 2015 Gold Circle Trophy ahead of a young Macheon Bolt, before injury intervened. He would be off for more than a year and finally returned in inauspicious fashion in August.

Today was expected to be better for Seoul Bullet. It was. Under Seo Seung Un, he hot the front three furlongs out to get first run in the straight. Kim Yong Geun quickly brought Power Blade alongside and for a moment the battle was joined. Power Blade quickly got the best of it and Kim’s whip use was sparing, the Triple Crown winner always in command but only winning by half a length on the line.

So Seoul Bullet is back as a force in the Busan ranks but Power Blade retains his star status.  A good day all round. A journey back to Seoul for the President’s Cup next month is possible but his stable has an embarrassment of riches for that race including Triple Nine, who bested Power Blade to finish 3rd in the Korea Cup. By virtue of their in-the-money finishes in the Cup, both Power Blade and Triple Nine can receive international ratings enabling them to be considered for the Dubai World Cup Carnival and there is no denying it would be wonderful to see a fit Korean Triple Crown winner lining up at Meydan in the New Year.

For now though, Power Blade is back home.

Power Blade Faces Four In Kookje Sinmun

Triple Crown winner Power Blade will be the prohibitive favourite when he makes his return to his home track of Busan for the first time since winning the first jewel in the Crown all the way back in April. He has scared off all but four other entrants in the Kookje Sinmun Cup which will be run over 1400M on Sunday afternoon.

Power Blade Banjiui

Power Blade, seen here becoming Champion Juvenile on the last occasion he raced at 1400M, faces four in the Kookje Sinmun Cup on Sunday (Pic: KRA)

While still lightly campaigned – Power Blade has only raced a total of ten times in his career, there were fears among some that a trip to Seoul for the Korea Cup last month would be a race too far. He defied those to some extent by finishing 4th in the Cup, albeit a full twenty lengths behind winner Chrysolite and four lengths behind Stablemate Triple Nine in 3rd.

It’s another stablemate that could provide the main danger in Sunday’s kookje Sinmun. Seoul Bullet, who was six for six before injury struck in Spring of 2015 and perhaps returned a little too soon when racing last when finally reappearing in August. Significantly better is expected of him today.

Kookje Sinmun Cup (Listed-Weight for Age) – Busan Racecourse – 1400M – Sunday October 9 (16:15)

1. Power Blade (KOR) [Menifee] 3 C (10/7/2/0) – Kim Yong Geun
The Triple Crown winner drops back to seven furlongs for the first time since he was a juvenile – a race in which he recorded a faster time than any of his oppponents here have managed at this distance. Tactically versatile, fully fit or not, he should have far too much for these.

2. Hangangui Gijeok (KOR) [Didyme] 5 G (15/10/1/0) – Choi Si Dae
Two years ago he was one of the best horses on the peninsula. Ruled out with tendinitis for seventeen months from March of 2015 until August of this year, his return was an inauspocious one, only beating one home over 1200M. Two months down the line we’re expecting improvement. We’re not expecting him to beat Power Blade. Likely to lead.

3. Yuseong Fighting (KOR) [Didyme] 4 C (21/6/3/0) – Oh Kyoung Hoan
Decent sprinter whose connections are never afraid to send him out in tough company. Beat Seoul Bullet on the latter’s return from injury. He’ll join Hangangui Gijeok in looking for the early lead and he he should stay on to be competitive.

4. Seoul Bullet (KOR) [Peace Rules] 5 G (7/6/0/0) – Seo Seung Un
Sent to Florida as a juvenile he raced there four times for one third before returning to Korea towards the end of his three-year-old season. Stronger, fitter and more muscular than his contemporaries, he promptly went six for six before injury intervened. He lost his unbeaten record on his return after fifteen months out in August, behind Yuseong Fighting. He’ll settle handy probably close to Power Blade.

5. Royal Impact (KOR) [Cielo Gold] 5 H (33/5/6/0) – Song Keong Yun
Drops back to 1400M for the first time in some considerable time, he has struggled to make an impact in class 1 but scored a creditable 5th behind Triple Nine in the Owners’ Cup at a mile in August. He’ll settle at the back and try to be the closer here.

The Kookje Sinmun Cup is the feature among a 6-race card at Busan from 12:50 to 17:05. There are also 11 races at Seoul from 10:40 to 18:00. The Seoul meeting will be broadcast live on Sky Racing in Australia and a full race-by-race preview will follow.

Joy Lucky and Oreuse Claim Stakes Wins as Indie Band Returns Off-Key

Joy Lucky bounced back from her Ttukseom Cup disappointment to win the Owners’ Association Trophy at Seoul on Sunday but there was neither joy nor luck at Busan for Grand Prix winner Indie Band as he slumped to 3rd while Oreuse took the honours in the Gukje Sinmun Cup.

Seo Seung Un looks around to see if he and Joy Lucky have won the Owners' Trophy (KRA)

Seo Seung Un looks around to see if he and Joy Lucky have won the Owners’ Trophy (KRA)

Despite her Ttukseom trouncing Joy Lucky was sent off the odds-on favourite for the Owners’ Trophy, a race which had been re-arranged from its original schedule two weeks ago.

Featuring prominently throughout, Seo Seung Un had the 4-year-old filly track the pace-setting Brig before hitting the front with a furlong to run in the 1400 metre race.

Despite looking vulnerable on the run-in, shew as able to hold off the fast finishing Cheonnyeon Dongan and Gwanggyo Bisang, who dueled in the rails, to record her 9th victory in 13 starts.

Owners’ Cup – Seoul Race Park – 1400M – May 4, 2014

1. Joy Lucky (KOR) [Vicar – Proper Gun (Prosper Fager)] – Seo Seung Un – 1.5, 1.1
2. Cheonnyeon Dongan (KOR) [Ecton Park – Honeycakes (Hennessy)] – Ikyuasu Kurakane – 1.5
3. Gwanggyo Bisang (KOR) [Menifee – Touch Upon (Touch Gold)] – 1.4
Distances: Head/0.5 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Brig 5. Seoul Jeongsang 6. K Tap 7. Full Step 8. Reigns Cat 9. Jjak Kkung DQ: New And Best

Down at Busan, Indie Band ws making his first start since completing the President’s Cup/Grand Prix Stakes double at Seoul last year.

Indie Band was sent off as a narrow favourite ahead of Peter Wolsley’s Cheonji Bulpae but it was the unheralded Oreuse who bounded into an early lead and never looked back, the 5-year-old US import scoring a wire-to-wire victory.

Indie Band closed strongly in the home-straight but could only manage third place, a nose behind Dynamic Jilju and a full three lengths adrift of the winner.

Oreuse has been consistent rather than spectacular in winning 12 of his 26 starts to date. Thought of as being able to excel up to a mile, this was only his 2nd attempt at going an extra furlong. No doubt if he tries again, he’ll not be sent off at 11/1

Gukje Sinmun Cup – Busan Race Park – 1800M – May 4, 2014

1. Oreuse (USA) [Smoke Glacken – Heavenly Splendor (Point Given)] – Kim Dong Young – 11.3, 3.0
2. Dynamic Jilju (USA) [Forestry – Beat Your Feet (Dixieland Band)] – Choi Si Dae – 5.2
3. Indie Band (KOR) [Ecton Park – Plie (Dixieland Band)] – You Hyun Myung – 1.4
Distances: 3 lengths/Nose
Also ran: 4. Star Bolt (USA) 5. Ghost Whisper (KOR) 6. Cheonji Bulpae (AUS) 7. Strictly Two Step (USA) 8. Sand Hi (USA) 9. Magic Dancer (KOR) 10. Yereobunuiyeowang (JPN)