King Of The Match

Haengbok Wangja & King Of The Match set for Dubai Debuts on Friday

Two Korea-trained horses are set to make their Dubai World Cup Carnival debuts this week with both Haengbok Wangja and King Of The Match among eleven declared for the inaugural Thunder Snow Challenge over 2000M on the dirt at Meydan on Friday.

Now six-years-old, HAENGBOK WANGJA (USA) [Daredevil – First Installment (Broken Vow)] is a winner of eight of twenty-two career starts and won the Grand Prix Stakes (2300M KOR-G1) in 2021. With the emergence of Winner’s Man and Raon The Fighter, he didn’t go on to have the dominant 2022 that some predicted, instead going winless in six starts but managed 5th in the Korea Cup (1800M I-G3) and 4th in the KRA Cup Classic (2000M KOR-G2).

Purchased by the Seoul Racehorse Owners’ Association for $30,000 at the 2019 Ocala Spring Sale of Two-Year-Olds, Haengbok Wangja is a half-brother to US-based Group 3 placed Bourbon Cowboy (by Cowboy Cal). He is owned by Lee Bang-hoon, who has been an owner since 2006 and has had 38 winners in that time. Haengbok Wangja’s Grand Prix was his first Group winner.

Haengbok Wangja is trained by Park Youn-gu. Training since 2004 he has sent out 337 winners from 4,280 starters. He won his first Group race with Joy Lucky in the 2013 G3 Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup with the same filly following up in the G3 SROA Chairman’s Trophy a year later. He won the G3 Jeju Governor’s Cup with Lead Money in 2018 before Haengbok Wangja became his first G1 winner.

KING OF THE MATCH (USA) [Cairo Prince – Fought The Fight (War Front)] is a five-year-old who has win five of fifteen races at distances up to 1800M. Although he is yet to win over 2000M, he did run 2nd to Raon The Fighter in the KRA Cup Classic (2000M KOR-G2) in October and also managed 4th in the Korea Cup, both times finishing ahead of Haengbok Wangja.

Owners D R M City have 24 winners from 97 starters. Their first group winner arrived last month when juvenile Speed Young won the Breeders’ Cup (1400M KOR-G2) at Busan.

King Of The Match’s trainer Kim Young-kwan is no stranger to the Dubai Carnival, having brought several to Meydan in the past, including Main Stay, a winner in 2017. Licensed since 2004 Kim has more winners than any other trainer in Korean history with 1406 from 6331 starters. He is a twelve-time Champion Trainer at Busan and hassaddled more Group winners than any other trainer in Korea.

Both Haengbok Wangja and King Of The Match will need to be forgiven their respective latest outings in the Grand Prix Stakes on December 11th when both were well down the field. For King Of The Match the distance was perhaps too far while Haengbok Wangja was out of sorts. Reports on the ground suggest that both have acclimatized to Meydan well. Dane O’Neill will ride Haengbok Wangja while Tadgh O’Shea, the ten-time UAE Champion jockey, is aboard King Of The Match.

The race is race 6 on the 7-race Friday night Carnival program at Meydan with a post time in Korea of 1:55am Saturday morning.

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