Horse Racing Ireland

Mustang Queen Runs Wild In Irish Trophy

On a wild weather day in Seoul, Mustang Queen held off all challengers to win the Horse Racing Ireland Trophy.

Ham Wan Sik celebrates on Mustang Queen

Sent off as the 8/1 fourth favourite in the field of fourteen for the seven furlong Stakes race, Mustang Queen (Concept Win) was quickly towards the front. Taking the lead rounding the home turn, she never looked like giving it up as she ran on for victory by just over a length from favourites Imperial Star and Seungniuihamseong.

A four-year old filly, Mustang Queen was sixth in last year’s Korean Oaks at Busan, the only race in her career so far in which she finished out of the money. A class 2 win last month sent her into today’s race in good form and she duly recorded her fifth win from fourteen starts.

Ham Wan Sik on Mustang Queen in the HRI Trophy Winner's Circle

For jockey Ham Wan Sik, it’s a fourth career Stakes victory and comes just a week after he rode his 400th career winner.

The Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) Trophy has been a fixture on the Korean racing calendar for sixteen years now and is one of the longest running exchange races. The Irish authority also sends a jockey each year to participate in the International Jockey Challenge which this year will be held in August.

As ever – and unlike some other authorities who have exchange races here – officials from Horse Racing Ireland were on hand for the prize-giving ceremony. Indeed, HRI’s Mark O’Hanlon took to twitter later on to comment on the day.

The Horse Racing Ireland Trophy is one of several trophy exchange races held throughout the year

The KRA reciprocates by sponsoring a race in Ireland each year and it was in the Korea Racing Authority EBF Maiden at Leopardstown in August 2008 where a certain colt by the name of Sea The Stars recorded his first ever race win. It wouldn’t be his last.

In Korea there is a saying: “Kkot-Saem Chu-ui”, which roughly translates as the “The cold is jealous of the flowers”. It’s used when the dying winter season returns for one last hurrah, taking out the spring flowers in the process. Dawn broke in the capital this morning with brilliant sunshine. However, the wind quickly picked up and was up to gale-force at times.

Then a sudden blizzard arrived, with race 6 being run under floodlights in driving snow. Thirty minutes later, it was as if it had never happened with the sun out once again, the floodlights off and the snow melted.

The wind kept up though and all in all, it was one of the most unpleasant days at the track this winter. The cold certainly had its revenge on the spring flowers that the KRA has already planted around the track.

A quick blizzard covered the neighbouring mountains in snow

Sunday is another very big day, with the first Group race of the year in the shape of the Ttukseom Cup at Seoul. Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Sunday March 25

Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:00 to 17:45 including the Ttukseom Cup at 16:15
Busan Race Park: 7 races from 12:15 to 16:45 (Mister Park vs Dangdae Bulpae is race 7)

Weekend Preview: The Ttukseom Cup

Ttukseom Cup, Sports Donga, HRI Trophy & Mister Park vs Dangdae Bulpae on Big Weekend

After weeks of low-key affairs, finally things start to get serious with the first weekend of really big racing of 2012. While Mister Park squares off against Dangdae Bulpae at Busan, up at Seoul we have the Horse Racing Ireland Trophy on Saturday and then the first Group race of the year in the shape of the Ttukseom Cup on Sunday. Once all that is done, there’s still time for the Sports Donga Cup.

Can Kkakjaengi get back in the Seoul Stakes Winner's Circle?

The HRI Trophy is for Class 2 Korean bred fillies and mares while the Sports Donga is a standard Class 1 handicap and features former champion fillies Cheonun and Dongbang Rose.

At Busan, record win streak holder, Mister Park and double President’s Cup winner Dangdae Bulpae will race with six others over 2000 metres in a Class 1 handicap.

We’ll focus on the big Stakes race though and this year, the Ttukseom Cup is the first leg of the “Queens’ Tour”, which aims to pit the best fillies and mares from both Seoul and Busan against one another in a series of big Stakes races.

Six from Busan join eight rivals in the capital for the seven-furlong sprint on Sunday afternoon. Here is a full run-down of the runners and riders:

Ttukseom Cup (KOR G3) – Seoul Race Park – 1400M – March 25, 16:15

1. Imperial Girl (USA) [Imperialism-Wallena (Wallenda)] – 4 (18/3/1/4) – Oh Kyoung Hoan (Seoul)
Was well beaten by Geumbi last time out and, while she will probably appreciate dropping back in distance, will need to improve if she is to reverse that form.
2. Triple Hunter (USA) [Sweetsouthernsaint-Glory Mountain (Montbrook)] – 3 (6/2/1/2) – Park Geum Man (Busan)
Improving with each race although she is perhaps not quite in the same class as some of the better established runners, she has a placing chance.
3. Royale Embrace (USA) [Chapel Royal-Embracing Krissy (Kissin Kris)] – 4 (14/5/3/1) – Yoo Hyun Myung (Busan)
At one time she looked set to e a star. Has form at a higher level than most of her rivals and can’t be ruled out if at her best.
4. Chowonuibyeol (USA) [Rockport Harbor-Arctic’s Angel (Artax)] – 3 (6/2/2/1) – Choi Bum Hyun (Seoul)
Good win over the distance last month and has to be in with a chance of placing.
5. Gamdonguibada (USA) [Werblin-Radyla (Country Pine)] – 3 (4/3/1/0) – Kim Young Geun (Busan)
Unexposed so far, her only defeat came at the hands of the promising colt Pure Future. She ran just two weeks ago and was impressive over a mile. Will have backers.
6. Geumbi (USA) [Ecton Park-Lady Justine (Lit De Justice)] – 5 (15/5/5/2) – Moon Se Young (Seoul)
Second in the Owners’ Cup last year and scored her first victory at Class 1 level last month – along with Kkakjaengi she’s the only runner to have a win at that level and on current form should be favourite.
7. Kkochyeoul (USA) [Essence Of Dubai-A Star Has Risen (Rock Band)] – 4 (16/1/7/3) – Kim Hae Sun (Seoul)
Has graduated up to class 1 despite only having one win to her name. She should be around at the business end of the race but it is difficult to see her getting her second win.
8. Queen Of Rain (USA) [Lion Heart-Prosperous Move (Arch)] – 4 (15/4/2/3) – Song Keong Yun (Busan)
Returns to Seoul for the first time since being an also-ran in the Grand Prix Stakes in December. The field here is nothing like as strong as it was that day but, while she cannot be discounted, others are favoured.
9. Malibu Sky (USA) [Malibu Moon-Music Box Dancer (Woodman)] – 4 (13/3/2/1) – Kim Do Hyun (Busan
Solid performer but difficult to see her winning this one.
10. Xicar (AUS) [Written Tycoon-Grand Jewel (Brocco)] – 3 (7/3/2/0) – Park Tae Jong (Seoul)
The only non-US bred in the race, a month ago Xicar would have been favourite here. However, she then flopped last time out in the Segy Ilbo Cup. If January’s Xicar shows up, she’ll win.
11. Gippeumnuri (USA) [Eurosilver-Regatta Queen (Danzig Connection)] – 5 (23/4/2/1) – Kim Cheol Ho (Seoul)
Anther with Class 1 experience but it is a long time since she has tasted victory and was well beaten by Geumbi last time.
12. Dehere Queen (USA) [Dehere-Cinnamon Girl (Meadowlake)] – 4 (14/3/4/1) – Jo Sung Gon (Busan)
While an encouraging second to Former last time out, on paper a place seems her best chance. However, when Jo Sung Gon gives up rides at Busan to come to Seoul, his mount’s chances have to be taken seriously.
13. Mighty Mammy (USA) [After Market-Red Lifesaver (Victory Gallop)] – 3 (6/2/3/1) – Cho Kyoung Ho (Seoul)
Second in the Segye Ilbo Cup and a real talent. This may come too early for her a the right price, may be worth a punt.
14. Kkakjaengi (USA) [Put It Back-Wild Dixie Gal (Wild Event)] – 4 (13/6/3/2) – Shin Hyoung Chul (Seoul)
The highest rated entrant in the race, she’s a double-Stakes winner. Ran second to Jumong in January and fourth to Dongbanui Gangja last month. On her day, she should have too much for this field.

It’s set to be quite a weekend and the sun should be shining for most if it! Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday March 23

Busan Race Park: 10 races from 12:00 to 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 13:30 to 17:30

Saturday March 24

Seoul Race Park: 12 races from 11:00 to 17:20 including the HRI Trophy at 16:20
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 12:20 to 17:20

Sunday March 25

Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:00 to 17:45 including the Ttukseom Cup at 16:15
Busan Race Park: 7 races from 12:15 to 16:45 (Mister Park vs Dangdae Bulpae is race 7)