Johan Victoire

Round-Up: Cup & Sprint International Runners / Juvenile Winners / Victoire Injury / Seoul Mile Races

It was an eventful weekend of racing in Korea both on and off the track. First up, the selected International Runners for September 8th’s Keeneland Korea Cup & Sprint were announced:

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The ongoing trade dispute between Korea and Japan which has escalated into a full-blown diplomatic crisis over the past few weeks meant that Japan-trained horses were unable to be invited. This is somewhat of a blow to the event as Japanese horses bring high ratings to a race (organizers had spent some months pursuing one Japanese sprinter in particular who would have brought plenty of star power with him) which would have expected to have been IG3 this year but will now most likely have to wait at least another year before achieving that status.

On the other hand it leaves both races wide open and the USA is bringing a strong challenge for both races with Lone Sailor among those entered in the Cup and the mare Holy Legal in the Sprint. Hong Kong also have a horse in each race in the shape of Glorious Artist and Ugly Warrior.

Accepted Korean entries will be announced later this week with Dolkong expected to be among them in the Cup. However, he is set to be without new regular jockey Johan Victoire. Victoire, who was also expected to partner French raider Bakoel Koffie in the Sprint, suffered a heavy fall in Sunday’s race 7 at Seoul.

Johan Victoire

Johan Victoire

Victoire was riding Dolkong’s stablemate Jjang Kong when favourite Cheungdam Genie crossed in front of him on the corner leaving Jjang Kong with nowhere to go and Victoire unseated. He was taken to hospital for observation with a suspected broken shoulder and will undergo further tests on Monday.

It’s a big blow for the 32-year-old who has ridden 112 winners in just over two years riding in Korea. He gained his first local Group win on Dolkong in the Busan Mayor’s Cup. Cheungdam Genie, who finished 2nd in the race was disqualified and jockey Lee Hyeon Jong banned for three meetings for careless riding.

That incident overshadowed what was the first of two races over the new Mile distance at Seoul on Sunday. That race was won by last year’s Korean Oaks winner Special Stone while the second of them, another class 2 handicap, went to the returning Thunder Blade.

Feature races of the day at both Seoul and Busan were valuable juvenile events over 1200M. At Busan, Save The World (Menifee-Royal Scene) ran out a six-length winner while up in Seoul, Choegang Team (Old Fashioned-Sellsey) was similarly impressive. Both are unbeaten after two starts apiece with their next big tests likely to come in October.

 

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Johan Victoire Joins The 100-Club

Johan Victoire has become the latest foreign jockey to ride 100 winners in Korea.

Johan VictoireThe French rider reached the milestone when guiding 3/1 chance Fast Fashion to victory in race 4 on Korean Derby day at Seoul Racecourse last Sunday.

Victoire debuted in Seoul in July of 2017 scoring success with his very first mount and has maintained a steady stream of winners ever since.

The 100 came up just after he passed 920 rides in the country making for a win rate of almost 11%.

Victoire now lies in 8th place on the all-time foreign jockey list in Korea which is led by Ikuyasu Kurakane, way out in front in 347, followed by Djordje Perovic on 238.

Of the foreign jockeys currently riding in Korea, Franco Da Silva leads with 156 followed by Masa Tanaka on 133 and Antonio Da Silva on 129.

Victoire is one of three French jockeys licensed at Seoul right now with he and David Breux joined this month by Ryan Curatolo, who is beginning an intial four-month license.

 

 

Sky Bay Lands Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup / Victoire Bags Seven / Gaon Champ Steps up

Sky Bay ran out the emphatic winner of the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup, the final leg of the 2018 Queens’ Tour at Busan last Sunday. The three-year-old US-bred filly ran away from the field in the home straight to win by five-lengths and secure a first Group race victory for trainer Lee Shin Young.

Sky Bay - KRA

Sky Bay was sent off as favourite for the 2000M test and was prominent throughout. While other early pace-setters Blue Flag and Catch Nine gave way, the Adios Charlie filly was too strong and fast-finishers Seouri Byeol and Damyang Hwanho never looked like getting close. With Sky Bay not having competed in either of the first two legs of the Queens’ Tour, 4th place-getter Cheongsu Yeogeol, winner of the Ttukseom Cup and 2nd in the KNN Cup, was crowned the overall Series winner

Sky Bay [Adios Charlie – KK’s Kitty (Yes It’s True)] was a $95,000 purchase from the OBS 2017 Spring Sale of two-year-olds and has now won five of her nine races. It is the biggest win of trainer Lee Shin Young’s career as she becomes the first Korean female trainer to saddle a Group winner.

For jockey Lee Chan Ho, one of the most naturally gifted riders Korea has produced but who has seen his career weighed down somewhat by suspensions for off-track issues, it was a second Group winner following Choegang Schiller’s triumph in the 2015 Asia Challenge Cup.

Speaking of jockeys, up at Seoul it was a sensational weekend for Johan Victoire. The French rider rode three winners on Saturday and then managed to top that feat on Sunday, partnering four more for a total of seven across the weekend.

Victoire, who is seventeen months into his Korean sojourn, has now ridden 73 winners from 729 rides in the country.

While Sky Bay’s win was impressive, the performance of the weekend, however, may have been up in Seoul. In the very last race on Sunday, Gaon Champ stepped up to class 1 for the first time and completely dominated, running in the second fastest time of the year over 1400M for an untroubled length-and-a-half victory.

Gaon Champ (Ecton Park) is a three-year-old colt whose only defeats so far have come at the hands of Mask, in the Seoul Classic trial back in March, and then in the KRA Cup Mile at Busan when he played up in the gates beforehand. He moves on to six wins from eight total starts and will hopefully be one to look out for in the bg sprints next year. He’ll probably not get the opportunity to carry just 51kg again though.

Victoire Pulls Off Spectacular Juvenile Win On Icheon Ssal As Records Tumble At Soaking Wet Seoul

Have a look at this – Johan Victoire bringing Icheon Ssal from last to first in the final furlong to win a valuable Juvenile race at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday.

Icheon Ssal (Capital Spending) provided Victoire with his first Korean winner on his first ever ride at Seoul just under a month ago. It was Incheon Ssal’s debut that day too and he reappeared on Sunday in a race exclusively for 2-year-olds who graduated from this Spring’s Jeju Breeze-Up Sales.

It was the ride that got the attention though, as French jockey Victoire brought Icheon Ssal from last to first in the closing stages to grab victory on the line.  Victoire’s performance was one of a number of impressive returns from foreign jockeys across the weekend with Antonio Da Silva at Seoul and both Franco Da Silva and JP Guillambert at Busan also being in top form.

Speaking of top form, Cheongdam Dokki has beenturning heads recently. An American import, 3-year-old Cheongdam Dokki (To Honor And Serve) ran out a 17-length winner over 1800M at class 2 last month, despite playing up in the parade ring and bolting on his way to the gate. The antics were limited this Sunday for what was his first try at both class 1 and 2000M. It went rather well:

Late nominations for the Korea Cup for locally trained runners open briefly on August 25…

Cheongdam Dokki would have broken the track record for 2000M had Kim Yong Geun not almost slowed him to a walk by the time they crossed the line but two record did fall on Sunday on a track that was racing exceptionally fast after 15 hours of continuous downpours. Those were at 1700M where Dangdae Geoljak (Peace Rules-So Original) set a new mark of 1:46.6 in race 8 and then at the Korea Sprint distance of 1200M which now has a new record of 1:10.6 following the efforts of Cheonjiga (Trappe Shot-What A Girl Needs) in the closing race 11.

At Busan, the feature race was won by Triple Nine’s little sister, the Thomas Gillespie trained Black Sapphire (Ecton Park-A Little Poke) while the 2yo Breeze-Up-grads race was won by Kim Young Kwan’s Classic Match (Hansen-Intouchable).

Johan Victoire Makes Winning Start / Choegangja, Zentenary Labour At Kranji

Plenty went on over the weekend including business being as usual for the Korean runners in the annual KRA Trophy at Kranji in Singapore, Silver Wolf essentially wrapping up the Queens’ Tour after just two legs and French jockey Johan Victoire making quite the impression on his first weekend in the saddle at Seoul 

It was a good weekend for a foreign jockey to arrive in Seoul what with a number of the track’s leading riders such as Kim Yong Geun and Choi Bum Hyun being at Busan to ride in the KNN Cup, Djordje Perovic still being indisposed and an ongoing inter-union dispute leading some jockeys not to ride for certain stables.

It took Johan Victoire precisely one race to show what he was capable of, guiding debut-maker Icheon Ssal (Capital Spending) to victory in Saturday’s opening maiden. While the 30-year-old couldn’t add another winner from his seven further rides across the weekend, he did get a 2nd and a 3rd as well as plenty of admiration from onlookers. It looks like Victoire will be busy over the forthcoming weeks. Check out the report and pictures on the official site.

While Silver Wolf (Orotorio) put in quite a run at Busan to cruise to the KNN Cup in a time just 0.3 seconds outside the track record for a mile, the Korean pair in Singapore for the annual KRA Trophy at Kranji on Sunday fared less well. In fairness, to Zentenary, that he beat any horses at all is to his credit but Choegangja was undoubtedly disappointing, breaking adequately enough but quickly weakening and finishing a tailed-off last in the race which was won by Distinctive Darci.

Choegangja had gone into the race looking in peak condition, according to trainer Brian Dean, but came back reportedly fine but having suffered a heat-stroke. Perhaps there is something in that given that in his only two races in warm weather last year he came 3rd of 10 and last of 9, both at class 3 before re-appearing in the cool of November and going on to win five in a row, then missing the break and coming last when things warmed up this June. Anyway, the search goes on for a Korean horse to go to Kranji in June and make an impression. Maybe next year.

This weekend Busan takes its one-week summer vacation so only Jeju runs n Friday. Seoul and Jeju will run on Saturday and just Seoul on Sunday.

Seoul Saturday: Race-By-Race Preview (July 22)

French jockey Johan Victoire will make his Korean debut in the saddle at Seoul on Saturday and it’s a good weekend for him to do so. A number of jockeys are absent from Seoul in order to ride in the KNN Cup at Busan on Sunday and Victoire is among those who could take advantage in the 11 race Saturday card which runs from 14:00 to 21:00. English cards are here. Notes on races for overseas simulcast are below:

Race 1: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million 
1. WONDERFUL LUCKY – 4th in trial behind Jungdong Jijon
2. MENI TURBO – 2nd on debut on June 24th and strong favourite here.
3. BABY STAR – 5th in trial behind Special Light. Wasn’t quick.
4. CUPID STORM – Well back behind Jungdong Jijon and Wonderful Lucky in trial.
5. MASK – 2nd in trials and looks set to go well.
6. CAPTAIN POWER – Trialled a couple of times and worked ok but probably best to watch first up.
7. FIORE – Looks competent enough and can go well.
8. HESEDEU – 3rd on debut at the end of May but considerably slower than Meni Turbo. Should lead here.
9. OPI WINTER – Trialled up behind Icheon Seal – looks to have plenty to make up on that one. (more…)