Haengbok Wangja

Raon The Fighter Heads Strong KRA Cup Classic Line-Up This Sunday

One of the longest standing races on the modern Korean racing calendar returns to Seoul on Sunday when thirteen line up for the 37th edition of the KRA Cup Classic (2000M KOR-G2).

Korea Cup runner-up Raon The Fighter will be favoured to add his name to a list of winners that include Dae Kyeun, Saegangja, Tough Win, Cheongdam Dokki and Dolkong, in a race which serves not only as a big prize in itself, but also a key step towards December’s season finale Grand Prix Stakes.

A total of six emerge from the Korea Cup with Raon The Fighter, King Of The Match and Haengbok Wangja all having finished in the top-five. They are joined by up and comers Good Pilseung, Tuhonui Banseok and Daeam Janggun, while the in-form Lil’ Patron, an also-ran in the race last year, comes in looking much more dangerous this time.

The old guard is there too. Moonhak Chief, Shamrocker and Dolkong may have their best days behind them but can’t be completely ruled outr of still being able to put in strong runs:

1. CRAZY CONTI finished 7th in the Korea Cup after settling midfield. He is a recent class 1 winner over 1800M but this is much harder.

2. GEUMA MYSTIC is yet to win in Class 1 but did manage a 3rd place in the YTN Cup albeit over eight-lengths back behind the winner. That was in similar company to this and he could be thereabouts.

3. KING OF THE MATCH is an improving type who made a good impression in the Korea Cup when settling midfield and while he was well beaten, he ran on resolutely. He previously ran a bottler when dead–heating with President’s Cup winner Simjangui Godong for 2nd place behind Raon The Fighter in the Busan Owner’s Cup. Well drawn and plenty of upside.

4. HAENGBOK WANGJA ran a fair 5th in the Korea Cup after settling midfield. He was the winner of the 2021 Grand Prix Stakes over 2300M and has demonstrated solid form since. He goes better when able to settle forward and back up to 2000M, and having drawn well, he is right in this.

5. MOONHAK CHIEF is a top liner who has won the Korea Cup among many other Group races but who has been a little disappointing in recent starts. At his top, he is right in this but has to be taken on trust at the moment.

6. TUHONUI BANSEOK won his latest start by four lengths on what was his class 1 debut over 2000M with some smart ones behind him. He is very much up in class here and it is on level weights but he is a winner of five from ten and can be considered for more improvement.

7. SHAMROCKER is a grand old campaigner who always gives his best. At his last start he was a distant 4th in the YTN Cup when settled back in the field. This is equally hard but he will be running on late as ever.

8. DAEAM JANGGUN is another who won last time out on what was his class 1 debut. That was over 1800M and he raced forward, stopping the clock in a good time. This is much harder and it is at level weights.

9. LIL’ PATRON has recent form that reads extremely well with three successive wins at class 1 over 1800M. Each time he has settled midfield and run on strongly. He hasn’t had to run elite level times to win those races but he is fit, in top form and could sneak into the calculations in what is a much sterner test.

10. DOLKONG resumed in the Korea Cup after a long layoff and was well back the way. He will have derived benefit from that outing but may still need to lift at this stage. Won this race in 2019.

11. GOOD PILSEUNG ran 2nd in the JRA Trophy over 1800M on international weekend when racing forward. A truer indication of his ability was at the start before though when a close 4th in the Herald Business Cup against this type of opposition. He raced forward on that occasion and can’t be left out.

12. DORAON POPEYE ran a nice 3rd in the JRA Trophy on international weekend when midfield and running on. He is yet to win in class 1 and this is much harder. Watching brief.

13. RAON THE FIGHTER is an outstanding racehorse at seemingly any distance although this will be his first test over 2000 metres. He has huge natural speed and is able to set a pace few can match. He dueled with Japanese raider Sekifu throughout the majority of the Korea Cup at 1800M in September, ultimately seeing him off, only to be caught by local rival Winner’s Man in the very closing stages. He has drawn very wide again and the additional furlong does pose a question, but Raon The Fighter will be a justifiable favourite here.

The Group 2 KRA Cup Classic is race 8 on an 11-race card at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon with a local post time of 16:20.

Selections: (13) Raon The Fighter (3) King Of The Match (4) Haengbok Wangja (9) Lil’ Patron

Donga Ilbo Trophy Sunday: Seoul & Busan Race-by-Race Preview (March 27)

Sunday is Donga Ilbo Trophy day at Seoul where there are 11 races from 10:45 to 18:00. Busan also runs a card with 6 races from 12:00 to 16:40. The Donga Ilbo is for fillies and mares and it could be something of a family affair with Raon First set to be hot favourite with her younger “full” sister Raon Pink one of her leading rivals. Also at Seoul Haengbok Wangja makes his first appearance since winning the Grand Prix Stakes in December, while at Busan there is a very tasty feature in prospect as the up and coming Barbarian takes on KRA Cup Classic winner Mr. Afleet, as well as Yeongung Louis and Doctor Carson in a cracking class 1 sprint over 1400M. All betting locations across Korea are open, however, attendance must be pre-booked through the MyCard app. Here are the previews:

Raon First is in action at Seoul on Sunday (Pic: KRA)

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

Three-year-old maidens open the card with four of the twelve racing for the very first time. We’re set for a hot favourite in the shape of (5) QUEENUI JILJU. Having finished 3rd on debut over 1000M on Boxing Day, she stepped up to this trip on February 12th and ran 2nd having been handy throughout. The time was only fair although faster than anything else here has achieved so far and a similar run here will see her hard to beat. (3) MARUMA ran 5th from a wide gate on debut over 1000M before only managing 8th second-up at this trip. He should have come on for those experiences and in this company can be given another chance. (2) OKCHEON CHOEGANG debuts following two positive trials, crossing the line 2nd and 3rd in fair times. That’s enough to see him firmly in the hunt first up. (8) BURUI JILJU and (1) NAOL SESANG perhaps have the potential to improve.

Selections(5) Queenui Jilju (3) Maruma (2) Okcheon Choegang (8) Burui Jilju
Next Best1, 11
Fast Start3, 5, 9, 11

Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

Maiden fillies here and it’s competitive. We’ll go with (5) BARO QUEEN who seems to be figuring things out with five starts underneath her best. She comes in following back-to-back 3rd places at this distance, last time away slowly from a wide draw and then working home well. The draw is in her favour this time and she may well lead. If she does, she has every chance of staying there. (10) GOLDEN SCOOP will probably be the favourite. She beat Baro Queen when 2nd on January 22nd and followed it up with a 3rd place, again at this distance, a month ago.  She’s trialed well since then and looks to have big chance. (9) NAMSAN KKOT has raced just the once, when 3rd at this distance last October in a good time. She didn’t offer too many clues when trialing earlier this month, but she should be kept safe. (6) HWIPARAM and (3) WONDERFUL HAWAII among others in the placing frame.

Selections(5) Baro Queen (10) Golden Scoop (9) Namsan Kkot (6) Hwiparam
Next Best3, 12
Fast Start5, 6, 8, 10

Seoul Race 3: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

It’s hard to look too far past (11) FLY STAR here. Having run 5th on debut at 1400M, he dopped back to 1300M for his second start on February 27th and led almost the entire way around, ultimately ending in 2nd, beaten by a very good winner. He comes back in trip again and while the gate is not the best, he is very much the one to beat. (5) MIDAS CAMP had a hard time from a wide draw on his latest outing over 1300M on February 20th. Disregard that and instead go on is 3rd place in a good time in January. He can sit on speed or handy here and should be a different prospect today. (4) NAOL ACE improved at start number two on January 22nd when handy throughout and finishing 4th. He comes up in trip for the first time today and there is no reason why it can’t suit. (1) MUNHAK FOREST and (12) MABAWI are among others who can enter the calculations.

Selections(11) Fly Star (5) Midas Camp (4) Naol Ace (1) Munhak Forest
Next Best12, 7
Fast Start1, 4, 5, 11

Busan Race 1: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

Three-year-old maidens in the opener on the South-Coast. There is plenty of winning potential among them but (9) JOSEPHINE QUEEN should have a little too much. She was a good 2nd in a super time over this distance on February 13th when she sat handy then briefly led before being beaten by a good winner. She can sit handy again and a similar run will see her home on top here. (7) FLOWING RIVER has run 3rd in both starts so far at 1000M and 1200M. The little extra trip may well suit and he should have some more to offer. Park Jae-I rode Flowing River in both his races so far but today he stays aboard (3) GREAT CAPTAIN. He comes in having beaten three of these on his way to 3rd place at class and distance on February 27th. He draws a similarly good gate, carries the same weight, and can be a danger again. (5) DOCTOR PERSIA came home 5th in the same race on what was his first start, and he can build on that here. (8) INDY CHOICE another in the hunt.

Selections(9) Josephine Queen (7) Flowing River (3) Great Captain (5) Doctor Persia
Next Best8, 1
Fast Start1, 7, 8, 9

Seoul Race 4: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

Tricky race. (3) KING MOUNTAIN weakened late on having led for much of the way around over 1700M on February 27th, ultimately finishing 6th of twelve. Two starts back, he ran a very good 2nd over 1300M behind Titan Socks, who has since won again at a higher level. He can be on pace again today and the drop back in trip should suit. (4) K N PARK showed significant improvement at his latest outing over this distance on February 20th, when going back and improving late on. The same apprentice jockey keeps the weight nice and light today and he should be working home well again here. (5) HONEY PUNCH too showed improvement at her most recent appearance on February 26th. She has gone back in all her races so far, but this time made up really good ground late on and a similar run will put her right in this. (7) TIFFANY BLUE and (2) FLYING BARBIE are others who can enter the calculations.

Selections(3) King Mountain (4) K N Park (5) Honey Punch (7) Tiffany Blue
Next Best2, 5
Fast Start1, 3, 8, 10

Busan Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

(1) RADAR has been a beaten favourite on both starts to date, most recently at odds-on when 3rd having been a close 2nd on debut. She had the excuse of gate fourteen that day but should get a much easier run to the lead from the inside this time around and it really should be third-time lucky. (2) HWARANG ACE showed some ability as he gradually got closer across three starts last autumn, with a best of 4th at this distance in November. He hasn’t raced since but looks to have held his form if his trial two weeks ago is anything to go by when he led, crossing the line 2nd in a fast time. Expect him on speed and in this a long way. (3) EUNBIT JILJU wet right back on debut but made-up good ground for 5th. She should have come on for that run and can get closer today. (8) BOOMY STAR and (5) BABEL PHOENIX are others capable of putting in good runs.

Selections(1) Radar (2) Hwarang Ace (3) Eunbit Jilju (8) Boomy Star
Next Best5, 7
Fast Start1, 2, 3, 4
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