Joe Murphy

Yeonseung Daero Closes Out 2012 At Busan

Murphy Bows Out / Kim Yong Geun Stood-Down

If every horse in Korea was campaigned in the same way that Yeonseung Daero has been, the standard of the nation’s thoroughbred may just be a little bit higher.

Yeonseung Daero - (Pic: KRA)

Yeonseung Daero – (Pic: KRA)

The six-year old has won over US$ 1.5Million in prize money but it would surely have been higher were he not to almost always be put in against imported horses. You don’t have to be very good to win a race restricted to Korean bred entrants, however, the prize money is higher so there is little point going up against the (rather average but better trained) imports.

Of course, Yeonseung Daero’s owner can afford the luxury of being a sportsman – he has owned a string of top Korean horses including this year’s KRA Cup Mile winner Gyeongbudaero – and he doesn’t do it with all of them. Nevertheless, Yeonseung Daero’s career has been a joy to watch. Since completing his three-year old season, Yeonseung Daero has very rarely run in domestic company and he has more than held his own.

He had been without a win – without evene finishing in the money – since triumphing in the Listed Busan Ilbo Cup way back in February. However, today, Yeonseung Daero (Creek Cat) was right back in form, swooping late to deny three-year old US colt Grand Distinction (With Distinction) in the final few strides of the first of Busan’s co-feature race with Haengbok Dream (Lammtarra) also in close-attendance in third.

Yeonseung Daero has now won 17 of his 46 career starts. No doubt he’ll continue to compete in 2013.

Closing day for 2012 at Busan saw what was for the track, an unrecedented 14 race card. It was also the last day training in Korea for American Joe Murphy. His horse Atanarjuat was scratched out of the finale, so his last runner was filly Uddukseon, who finished 7th of 14 in race 10.

A 50/1 outsider finishing in the middle of the field perhaps describes Murphy’s time at Busan perfectly although to be fair to the trainer, he has had very little ammunition in his barn during his two years here nor has he had the original amount of time he understood he would have – and felt was required – to turn things around.

There was also more depressing news off the track as it emerged that Busan’s newly crowned Champion Jockey Kim Young Geun has been stood down pending investigation into possible breaches of racing’s integrity rules. More on this, and on Murphy’s last day, later this week.

A mixed ending to the year then. We don’t have to wait long to get going again though. Racing returns next weekend, with the feature being the New Year’s Commemorative Stakes at Seoul.

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Weekend Preview: Busan & Jeju Only

There’s no racing in Seoul as Busan takes centre stage on the last weekend of 2012. Just like last week, the only racing in Korea on Friday is the ponies on Jeju Island as Busan runs a short 6 race card on Saturday and then a bumper 14 race program on Sunday.

Busan Racecourse can be a lonely place, but it's the only place to be for thoroughbred racing in Korea this weekend

Busan Racecourse can be a lonely place, but it’s the only place to be for thoroughbred racing in Korea this weekend

A few of Busan’s bigger names will be on show across the weekend. 2008 Korean Derby winner Ebony Storm, still going strong as a seven-year old, goes on Saturday, while multiple Stakes winner Yeonseung Daero makes an appearance in one of Sunday’s co-features. A host of up and coming tw-year olds, both Korean-bred and imported, will also be on show both days.

This weekend also sees American trainer Joe Murphy bow out of Korea after a challenging two years. Murphy will saddle his last runner when six-year old Atanarjuat goes in Sunday’s last race.

Friday December 28

Jeju Race Park: 12 races from 12:00 to 18:00

Saturday December 29

Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:30 to 17:30
Jeju Race Park: 8 races from 11:00 to 17:00

Sunday December 30

Busan Race Park: 14 races from 11:00 to 17:50

Queen Beats Ace As Favourites Fold

Ruby Queen Bests Ace Galloper At Seoul / Joe Murphy Trains Outsider Atanarjuat To Stun Useung Touch At Busan

It was a day of upsets in the feature races at Seoul and Busan today. On the south coast, what was billed as a match-race between Useung Touch and Geumdda was crashed by a 42/1 outsider, while in the capital Ace Galloper couldn’t overcome a severe weight disadvantage as he went down to Ruby Queen.

Ace Galloper is nowhere to be seen as Ruby Queen and Boo Min Ho sprint to victory at Seoul

Despite carrying 61kg, Ace Galloper (Chapel Royal) was still strongly fancied to snap a streak of two consecutive second places in Seoul’s feature handicap. However, Ruby Queen (Badge Of Silver) took an early lead and proceeded to make all under jockey Boo Min Ho. Ace Galloper looked poised to challenge as they entered the home straight, but he although he left the rest of the field behind, he never looked like making an impact on Ruby Queen’s lead and the filly held on for a comfortable two-length win.

Ace Galloper, winner of last year’s KRA Cup Classic and Seoul’s top-ranked domestic bred horse, now has three second place finishes in a row. On the plus side, Ruby Queen won’ be getting nine kilos off him again any time soon.

Down at Busan there was an ever bigger surprise. The clash between 2011 Korean Oaks winner Useung Touch (Menifee) and the three-year old filly Geumdda (Officer), who had only been beaten once in seven starts, was one that punters had been looking forward to all year. In the end, it was something of a disappointment.

Although it was clear from early on that Geumdda was having an off-day, Useung Touch at least looked to be doing the business authoritatively as she led the field in the home straight. However, that reckoned without little-known Joe Murphy trainee Atarnarjuat (Graeme Hall), who flew home down the rail to take a shock two-length win at odds of 42/1.

Six-years old, Atarnarjuat was scoring just his fourth win from thirty-one starts and his first since May 2010. For American trainer Joe Murphy it was a second class 1 win of 2012. For jockey Park Geum Man, it was the perfect preparation for his trip to Seoul next weekend where he will ride the favourite, Gyeongbudaero, in the Korean Derby.

* In other news, jockey Kim Cheol Ho has received a six month ban for his ride on filly Indian Hopper in race 8 at Seoul on Saturday. The filly was slow leaving the gate and lost touch with the field. She recovered a little but she finished ten lengths adrift of the next to last horse home. Although there was no evidence that he deliberately slowed the filly, Stewards did not accept his explanation that he was concerned as to her welfare in the early stages (the vet check came back fine). He’ll get his license back on November 13.

Here’s the video, judge for yourself. He breaks – slowly – from gate 2:

Weekend Preview: Busan Ilbo Cup

Champion Belt, Yeonseung Daero, Dongseo Jeongbeol In First Busan Stakes Of 2012 / Dongbanui Gangja Headlines Seoul

Busan Race Park sees its first Stakes race action of the year on Sunday as thirteen of the track’s best Korean bred older horses line-up for the Busan Ilbo Cup.

Yeonseung Daero - Tough Test in Busan Ilbo Cup

Last year’s Minister’s Cup winner Dongseo Jeonbeol, Busan Metropolitan winner Yeonseung Daero and the current top-rated (without Mister Park) Korean horse at Busan, Champion Belt will all line up for the Mile-Long rrace.

There is foreign interest too as both Peter Wolsley and Joe Murphy have runners. Wolsley saddles Khaosan, who won the Owners’ Cup last year, while Murphy sends out Udeumji, who is without a win since last May but as such, finds himself bottom of the handicap. Meanwhile, Japanese jockey Akane Yamamoto will ride another outsider, Choego Yeongung.

Up at Seoul, Saturday sees former stakes-winners High Point and Triple Seven among the runners in the feature race while on Sunday former double-Grand Prix victor Dongbanui Gangja headlines the main event.

The former champion was handed a comprehensive drubbing by Smarty Moonhak last month and will have to carry top weight of 62Kg in the 2000M handicap. Top filly Kkakjaengi also goes in a full field of fourteen as do a pair of relative newcomers to class 1 level Celebrate Tonight and Mass Media’s Tea.

On the classic trail, we’ll be mostly looking out for colt Nobel Pokpung in race 11 at Busan on Friday and filly Dolpung Jilju in race 9 at Seoul on Saturday.

Here’s what’s happening where and when on what looks set to be another chilly weekend:

Friday February 24

Busan Race Park: 11 races from 11:30 to 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 13:30 to 17:30

Saturday Febrary 25

Seoul Race Park: 12 races from 11:00 to 17:20
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 12:20 to 17:20

Sunday February 26

Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:00 to 17:50
Busan Race Park: 8 races from 11:50 to 16:50 including the Busan Ilbo Cup at 15:55.

Viva Cat Among The Classic Hopefuls

Viva Cat Impressive at Seoul / Eiki Bows Out with a Winner / Murphy Scores

We’re less than two months away from the KRA Cup Classic, the first leg of the Korean Triple Crown, and while the weather remains cold, things are starting to heat up in the three-year old ranks.

Viva Cat saunters to victory at Seoul this afternoon

While Busan’s Gyeongbudaero (Menifee) remains most people’s early pick for Classic glory, each week others are staking their claim. At Busan on Friday, Good Time (Yehudi) won by a visually impressive nine lengths over a mile but today at Seoul, it was the turn of Viva Cat (Creek Cat) to show why he should be taking the trip down south in early April.

Sent off as favourite against a field containing only older horses, Viva Cat was a comfortable length-and-a-half winner in a fast time over 1700 metres. The colt has now won five of his six starts while Gyeongbudaero has been beaten on both of his attempts at further than seven furlongs, albeit in slightly better company.

With the likes of Jigeum I Sungan (Ingrandire) and Cheoneun (Forest Camp) recording important wins last week, the signs so far are good for this year’s three-year old crop being more competitive than the disappointng one last year.

Down at Busan, hot favourite Tamna Ace (Thunder Gulch) scored a routine victory in the feature handicap to take his record to en wins from fourteen starts. Joe Murphy’s top rated horse Deep Desire (Jump Start) was a disappointing last in that race but there was success earlier for the American trainer as his filly De Bora (Dehere) broke her maiden in race 1.

It was Murphy’s second win of what, given that he only had seven successes in the prvious eighteen months, is looking an ever more promising 2012. Murphy himself ascribes the new positive feeling in his barn to having had an Australian trackwork rider join him in January which has made communication in training much easier. Whatever the reason, his runners are ones to follow over the next few months.

Finally at Busan it was a day of farewells for Japanese rider Eiki Nishimura. The 36-year-old completed his second stint at the track today and bowed out with a winner, partnering 3/1 shot Camilla (Menifee) to victory in race 2. Popular with just about everybody, Eiki scored a total of 13 winners from 109 rides in his four months here.

He previously rode 38 winners during 2009, including winning that year’s KRA Cup Classic on Sangseung Ilro. He will be missed.

* Next weekend, we have Stakes action at Seoul in the shape of the Segye Ilbo Cup for foreign bred fillies and mares. As ever, we’ll have all the build up here on Thursday.

Weekend Preview: Weighty Task For Mister Park

Magnifique, Geumbi, Jumong In Action At Seoul / Mai Beppu Returns

Last season, Mister Park (Ecton Park) broke the record for most consecutive wins in Korean racing history. It was a sensational streak of seventeen straight triumphs which only came to an end by the narrowest of margins at the hands of Tough Win in the season-ending Grand Prix Stakes at Seoul in December.

Heavy Task: Mister Park

On Sunday, the now five-year old Mister Park makes his season debut at Busan in Sunday’s feature race. However, if he’s going to get back to winning ways, he’s going to have to carry jockey Akane Yamamoto, as well as a lot of dead-weight, faster than eleven rivals over 1800M.

This year, the maximum weight for allowance races (which include most Stakes races in Korea) has been upped to 62Kg and Mister Park will carry exactly that amount on Sunday. He should still win, but it’s by no means an easy start to his season.

Akane also rides top sprinter Night Moves (Proud Accolade) in Friday’s Busan sprint feature, a race where Peter Wolsley’s Khaosan(Sunday Well) and Pnata Rhei (Stormy Atlantic) as well as Joe Murphy’s Udeumji(Yehudi) will be among a full field looking to beat her.

The pick of the action at Seoul is on Saturday, where the feature sees Jumong (Johar) go up against double-stakes runner-up Geumbi (Ecton Park). Old favourite and former Grand Prix winner Bally Brae (Yarrow Brae), now ten, joins them.

Sunday sees the late developing Magnifique (Menifee) look for his fourth straight win the feature, Singgeureounachim (Exploit) and Andy’s Runner (The Groom Is Red) also helping make up a competitive field of twelve.

In jockey news, Japanese rider Mai Beppu makes her return to action for the first time in 2012, with twelve mounts across the weekend.

After near record low-temperatures in Korea this week, the weekend is looking a looking a little better but it’s still set to be pretty cold. Start and finish times have been adjusted earlier at all three tracks this weekend and there is an extra race at Busan on both Friday and Sunday. Click here for full cards but here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday February 3

Busan Race Park: 11 races from 12:00 to 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 13:30 to 17:30

Saturday February 4

Seoul Race Park: 12 races from 11:00 to 17:20
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 12:20 to 16:40

Sunday February 5

Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:00 to 17:40
Busan Race Park: 8 races from 11:50 to 16:40

60/1 Deep Desire Gives Joe Murphy Unlikely First Winner Of 2012

A fortnight ago, it took a 50/1 winner to get Aussie Peter Wolsley off the mark for 2012. Today it was the turn of the only other foreign trainer in Korea, American Joe Murphy, to get his first of the year with an even longer priced victor as Deep Desire swooped late to land the feature race at Busan.

Sent off at odds of 64/1 and under jockey Lee Hee Cheon, Deep Desire hit the front deep inside the final furlong to take a half-length win from fellow outsider Money Tree while early leader Tough Tiger battled on for third.

Deep Desire (Jump Start) is a five-year old gelding who, at one stage during his three-year-old season, looked to heading for the very top. Instead he has become a solid handicapper and today recorded his eighth win in twenty-eight lifetime starts. His last victory came in September last year – a success that was until today, his trainer’s most recent too.

The win is just Murphy’s eighth in his eighteen months in Korea and while it was, in terms of prize-money, the trainer’s biggest in Korea, it may be that the morale boost to his barn at getting off to a great start for the year ends up being worth far more than the money.

As an interesting footnote to the win, Deep Desire’s owner, Yoo Su Tae, has three horses stabled with Murphy as well as others elsewhere. Remarkably one of those others is second-placed Money Tree. One wonders if, in addition to the prize-money, the owner had a few won on the exacta which paid out at 2544/1.