Korea Cup

Korea Cup: Final Preview

It’s time. The Keeneland Korea Cup and Sprint are upon us. I went into detail about the Korea Sprint at the Hong Kong Jockey Club website so we’ll focus on the Cup here.


A quick word on the Sprint though, I’m going to stick with Super Jockey although Super Winner will almost certainly begin as favourite and deservedly so on recent form. Wild Dude looks very dangerous. As hoped for, it’s a really open race which any number could win. As indeed is the Cup. Let’s get into it.

First off, the draw. At first glance, (16) POWER BLADE and (15) INFANTRY were the big losers. Jockey Kim Yong Geun’s theatrics at the barrier draw certainly suggested that, however, while nobody would have chosen gate 16, Power Blade began the Cup Mile from gate 10 and the Derby from gate 12. There are other reasons why it may be tough for Power Blade, which we will return to. As for Infantry, he can overcome it and having adapted to the sand reasonably well, is one of the main contenders.

The Japanese pair of (3) CHRYSOLITE and and (7) KURINO STAR O do look very dangerous. The track should hold no concerns for them and the draw has been very kind. With Joe Fujii on board, it is possible that Korean punters may make Chrysolite the favourite. He should settle reasonably handy and has a great chance.

(1) ORDER OF THE SUN is a capable sort but he was well-beaten by Infantry over a mile in July and that, combined with concerns on the sand, will make him less fancied that his fellow Singapore raider. Representing the UAE is (6) NEED TO KNOW. It’s not the racing season there right now so he hasn’t raced since April. Even with Tadhg O’Shea on board, this is a tough ask.

Europe is represented by Jane Chapple-Hyam’s (8) SOLAR DEITY. He’s an all-weather specialist who can’t be judged on his recent turf form (he’s been racing in very strong company) and while he won’t be among the favourites, a strong performance is possible under Darryll Holland, who rode this track when based in Korea at Busan. Moroccan bred (2) FAMOUS MARK represents France. He is another who hasn’t found it easy on the turf but was 3rd in a Listed race on dirt in Sweden in May and is another with a good draw today.

As for the Korean horses, Power Blade does have to catch the eye as we don’t really know how good he is yet. He won the Triple Crown without being seriously tested but this is a challenge of a whole different order and while he has only raced four times this year, can he be in peak condition once again? One hopes so but while a sizable minority in the Korean racing media have him to win, a top five finish would be creditable. That’s true too for stablemate (13) TRIPLE NINE, winner of last month’s Owner’s Cup over a mile.

Perhaps the most likely of the Korea-trained contingent is (5) BEOLMAUI KKUM. He made all to beat Triple Nine by five lengths in the Busan Mayor’s Cup in July, finally taking out a big race. Some observers argue that he is one of the most gifted horses to ever run in Korea but suffered from overwork in his early career. At 6, he now looks to be at his best and if he runs at it on Sunday, he could even win. He will almost certainly look to lead from gate-to wire.

Joining Beolmaui Kkum on the early speed will be (12) SAENGIL GIPPEUM and possibly (9) GUMPO SKY. Both are more than capable at this distance but staying on in this company will be tough. (11) DYNAMIC DASH has just been found a little wanting in good domestic company in his last couple of starts while Seoul-based (14) DYNAMIC JILJU hasn’t really faced much in the way of quality opposition. (4) MIRAE YEONGUNG and (10) WONDER BOLT are likely to be slower away. Both have strong finishes and are capable of picking off a few in the closing stages.

Fingers crossed for a good and safe race.

Selections: (3) Chrysolite (15) Infantry (5) Beolmaui Kkum (7) Kurino Star O (16) Power Blade

Korea Cup & Sprint Countdown: Numbers Drawn

The barrier draws for Sunday’s Keeneland Korea Cup and Sprint took place at a downtown Seoul hotel this morning. Each race features seven overseas-trained horses up against nine Korean-trained. We’ll have a full final preview of both races up on Saturday. For now, here are the fields (all pictures by Ross Holburt for KRA):



The Sprint will be simulcast live by the Hong Kong Jockey Club during Sunday afternoon’s Sha Tin meeting and Super Jockey, one of the favourites for the race, drew gate number 2.


Owner Tony Lau draws Super Jockey’s number (Pic: Ross Holburt for KRA)


Kim Yong Geun is less than amused at pulling gate 16 out for Power Blade in the Cup


Sprint connections


Cup connections


Team GB! (& Australia)

All Systems Go For Korea Cup & Sprint

All fourteen overseas-trained horses who will participate in Sunday’s historic inaugural running of the Keeneland Korea Cup and Keeneland Korea Sprint have arrived at Seoul Racecourse.


Hong Kong’s Super Jockey worked at Seoul Racecourse on Tuesday morning under assistant trainer Beverly Millard (Pic: Ross Holburt for KRA)

Following the withdrawals of Hong Kong pair Gun Pit and Rich Tapestry from the Cup and the Sprint respectively, there are a total of seven overseas-trained horses set to go in each race (Full list of entries here). The arrivals began last Friday with horses from Japan and Singapore and concluded on Sunday evening when France-trained Famous Mark was the last to take up residence in the newly expanded international stables at Seoul Racecourse.


Chrysolite & jockey Joe Fujii (Pic: Ross Holburt for KRA)

The horses have been working since arrival; very early in the mornings because of quarantine regulations – although on Tuesday they received a bit of a lie-in due to Korean horses at the track not working (Tuesday is traditionally a day-off in Korean racing and old habits die-hard – even with those due to be racing in the big ones this weekend), so the visitors had the track and parade-ring, which the Japanese horses schooled in, to themselves.


Both Cup and Sprint look fascinating affairs with the Sprint, despite its lower prize-money, seeming especially competitive. The “Supers”, Hong Kong’s Super Jockey and Singapore’s Super Winner, as well as the newly Irish-trained Wild Dude join UAE pair of Art Wave and Beachy Head and Japanese duo Million Volts and Grape Brandy will face the hugely promising Busan-trained Perdido Pomeroy. While proven quality is on the side of the visitors, the sand-track can be a great leveler as was shown when Choegang Schiller, who will also run, won last year’s Asia Challenge Cup. Due to Super Jockey’s presence, the Sprint will be simulcast live to the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

The Japanese raiders look like they mean business and the pair of Chrysolite and Kurino Star O seem especially formidable in the Cup where they will line-up with Famous Mark as well as Singapore’s Infantry and Order Of The Sun, UAE’s Need To Know and Great Britain’s Solar Deity in taking on Korean Triple Crown winner Power Blade.

The barrier draw which, with 16 runners set to run in each race, could be crucial, will take place on Thursday lunchtime.

Gun Pit, Rich Tapestry, Wild Dude, Franklin D, Super Winner Among All-Star International Nominations for Korea Cup & Sprint

Horses in training in Hong Kong, Japan, the UK, France, UAE and Singapore have been nominated to run in the inaugural Keeneland Korea Cup and Keeneland Sprint at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday September 11, the Korea Racing Authority announced on Saturday.


Seoul Racecourse will host the Keeneland Korea Cup & Sprint on September 11

Preliminary nominations closed last Friday and eight international horses have been accepted into each race. They will be joined by up to eight Korea-trained runners. For the first time, Hong Kong, France, the UK, Ireland and the UAE are set to send runners to Korea.

Among the best known names are Hong Kong’s Gun Pit, who goes for the Cup against Japan’s Chrysolite and Great Britain’s Franklin D, a winner at Glorious Goodwood only last month. To add to the international theme, one of the French horses in the big race is the Moroccan bred star Famous Mark.

The Sprint, while less valuable, has also attracted well-known names. Hong Kong’s globe-trotting Rich Tapestry is entered alongside another Santa Anita Sprint champion, Wild Dude, who has recently been moved to Ireland.

Keeneland Korea Cup (1800M) Total Purse: 1 Billion Korean Won


Famous Mark (MOR) [Mr. Sidney – Empreinte Celebre (Peintre Celbre)] 4 year-old colt
A Moroccan bred who won all six of his races at Rabat and Casablanca before joining up with Pascal Bary in France. He has since finished 3rd in a Listed race on dirt in Sweden.

Hong Kong

Gun Pit (AUS) [Dubawi – Magic Tori (Ali-Royal)] 6-year-old Gelding
The dirt superstar of Sha Tin dirt, he’s practically unbeatable on his favourite surface. He managed a 2nd at Meydan in March before struggling on World Cup night. A previous trip to Chukyo at this distance didn’t work out but if he takes to the sand the way he does the dirt, he’s the one to beat.


Chrysolite (JPN) [Gold Allure – Chrysoprase (El Condor Pasa)] 6-year-old Gelding
A five-time Stakes winner, most recently claiming his second Diolite Kinen at Funabashi in March and was 3rd in the Group 3 Heian Stakes at Kyoto in May.


Infantry (NZ) [Tavistock – The Nightingale (Stravinsky)] 4-year-old Gelding
He’s won four of eleven career starts and has a win and a 2nd in his last two both over a mile. He will tackle 1800M for the first time.

Order Of The Sun (AUS) [Encosta De Lago – Sequin (Lure)] 6-year-old Gelding
4th behind Quechua in the Chairman’s Trophy, his most recent win came at this distance in February. He is a front runner.

United Arab Emirates

Gold City (IRE) [Pivotal – Storm Lily (Storm Cat)] 7-year-old Gelding
A winner of two from ten in the UK before relocating to the UAE in 2013. Finished 2nd behind Frosted at 1800M on the dirt at Meydan in February

Need To Know (SAF) [Western Winter – Promisefrommyheart (Elliodor)] 8-year-old Gelding
Winner of four in the UAE, he scored back to back 2nd places on the Meydan turf this January.

United Kingdom

Franklin D (USA) [Medaglia d’Oro – Kissed By A Star (Kingmambo)] 4-year-old Colt
Winner of the Betfred Mile at Glorious Goodwood in July. That was his second consecutive win having landed a Newmarket handicap two weeks previously.

Keeneland Korea Sprint (1200M) Total Purse: 700 Million Korean Won


Love Spirit (GB) [Elusive City – Indian Maiden (Indian Ridge)] 6-year-old Gelding
An also ran in the Group 1 Prix Maurice De Gheest at Deauville in August, he does have seven wins to his name. Trainer Louis Baudron has recently returned from a stint in Australia so is well acquainted with international racing

Ross Castle (IRE) [Bushranger – Bulrushes (Byron)] 3-year-old Colt
Young sprinter who has wins this year at Chantilly and Maisons Lafitte to his name.

Hong Kong

Rich Tapestry (IRE) [Holy Roman Emperor – Genuine Charm (Sadler’s Wells)] 8-year-old Gelding
A seasoned globe-trotter, he’s won at Santa Anita in the USA and twice at Meydan in Dubai, most recently in February this year.

Super Jockey (NZ) [Sandtrap – Pennies In Heaven (Pompeii Court)] 8-year-old Gelding
Beat Rich Tapestry when 2nd in the 2015 Golden Shaheen at Meydan; he was 5th in this year’s race Good – if limited – record on dirt.


Wild Dude (USA) [Wildcat Heir – Courtly Choice (Doneraile Court)] 6-year-old Horse
The Florida bred has spent his career in the United States. He won the Group 2 Kona Gold Stakes over six and a half furlongs on the dirt at Santa Anita in May, his 8th win in 22 career starts. He was 6th in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Moved this summer to training in Ireland.


Grape Brandy (JPN) [Manhattan Café – Wine And Rose (Judge Angelucci)] 8-year-old  Horse
A three-time Stakes winner earlier in his career, he was 3rd in the Negishi Stakes at Tokyo in January and 2nd in the Tokyo Sprint at Ohi in April.


Super Winner (AUS) [Kaphero – Millie Rose (Testa Rossa)] 5-year-old Horse
He beat three Korea-trained horses when winning the KRA Trophy at Kranji last year. Has four wins in seven starts in 2016. Usually settles just behind the early speed.

United Arab Emirates

Art Wave (IRE) [Art Connoisseur – Musical Review (Jade Robbery)] 5-year-old Horse
Winner of an all-weather race in the UK before moving to the UAE in 2014. Landed three consecutive wins at Jebel Ali around the turn of this year.

Triple Crown Winner Power Blade Set To Lead Home Challenge in Korea Cup

Preliminary nominations closed on Friday for the inaugural runnings of the Keeneland Korea Cup and Keeneland Korea Sprint, which take place at Seoul Racecourse on Friday September 11. Overseas-trained nominations will be published over the weekend but Korea-trained nominations came out Friday afternoon and it’s a who’s who of the top horses on the peninsula with Triple Crown winner Power Blade set to lead the domestic challenge in the Billion-Won Cup.


Triple Crown winner Power Blade is nominated for the Keeneland Korea Cup (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Triple Nine and Beolmaui Kkum as well as Success Story join Power Blade in being nominated for the Cup while Oaks winning filly Ottug Ottugi and Perdido Pomeroy are among nineteen who hope to take their chance in the Sprint.

Here’s the full list of nominations for both races. It’s expected that eight Korea-trained horses will run in each race against eight overseas-trained horses:

Keeneland Korea Cup (1800M-KOR G1)

Beolmaui Kkum (USA) [Put It Back – Wild Dixie Gal (Wild Event)] 6-year-old Horse
Triple Nine (KOR) [Ecton Park – A Little Poke( Pleasant Tap)] 4-year-old Colt
Power Blade (KOR) [Menifee – Cheonmachong (Lost Mountain)] 3-year-old Colt
Gumpo Sky (KOR) [Vicar – Perfect Storm (Didyme)] 5-year-old Horse
Success Story (KOR) [Peace Rules – Power Pack (Lil’s Lad)] 5-year-old Horse
Dynamic Dash (USA) [Pleasantly Perfect – See Rock City (Tapit)] 4-year-old Colt
Saengil Gippeum (USA) [Parading — Minny’s Niece (Quiet American)] 3-year-old Colt
Dongbang Daero (USA) [Curlin – Willa Joe (El Gran Senor)] 4-year-old Colt
Diferent Dimension (USA) [Into Mischief – Pardon My Sarong (Souvenir Copy)] 4-year-old Colt
Buhwarui Banseok (USA) [Tizway – Aim For The Moon (Deputy Minister)] 3-year-old Colt
Choegangiji (USA) [Mineshaft – Woodland Shadow (Woodman)] 4-year-old Colt
Mighty Gem (USA) [Macho Uno – Shimmer (Pulpit)] 4-year-old Filly
Wonder Bolt (USA) [Desert Warrior – Little Champ (Great Gladiator)] 6-year-old Gelding
Mirae Yeongung (KOR) [Aragorn –Willing Miss (More Than Ready)] 5-year-old Horse
Bichui Jeongsang (USA) [Wildcat Heir – Persimmon Honey (Colonial Affair)] 5-year-old Mare
Dynamic Jilju (USA) [Forestry – Beat Your Feet (Dixieland Band)] 5-year-old Horse
Damyang Chukje (USA) [Good Reward – Strategy (Foot Stone)] 7-year-old Horse

Keeneland Korea Sprint (1200M-KOR G1):

Ubaki (KOR) [Menifee – Cadillac Caper (An Eldorado)] 6-year-old Gelding
Bit Blade (KOR) [Rockport Harbor – Natalie Beach (Tempranero)] 4-year-old gelding
Ottug Ottugi (KOR) [Forest Camp – Main Objective (Lion Heart)] 3-year-old filly
Gamdonguibada (USA) [Werblin –Radyla (Country Pine)] 7-year-old Mare
Oreuse (USA) [Smoke Glacken – Heavenly Splendor (Point Given)] 7-year-old Horse
Perdido Pomeroy (USA) [Pomeroy – Boldest Of All (Bold Executive)] 3-year-old Colt
Miracle Line (USA) [Latent Heat – Great Thought (Empire Maker)] 4-year-old Colt
Macheon Bolt (USA) [Old Fashioned – Beech Bag (Devil’s Bag)] 4-year-old Gelding
First Magical (USA) [First Dude – Magical Promise (Montbrook)] 3-year-old Colt
Supreme Magic (USA) [Lookin At Lucky – Thru N’ Thru (Stormy Atlantic)] 4-year-old Filly
Tapipoint (USA) [Concord Point – Peace pledge (Our Emblem)] 4-year-old Gelding
Triple Five (USA) [Girolamo – High Falutin Gal (Silver Deputy)] 3-year-old Gelding
Gabo Myeongun (USA) [Sharp Humor – Tingwithasting (Wild Rush)] 4-year-old Colt
Cheongu (USA) [Old Fashioned – So Much Fun (Speightstown)] 4-year-old Colt
Parang Juuibo (USA) [With Distinction – Spicy Souffle (French Deputy)] 6-year-old Horse
Goreous Dream (KOR) [Sharp Humor – Hey Gorgeous (Cherokee Run)] 3-year-old Colt
Choegang Schiller (USA) [Artie Schiller – Changeable (Miswaki)] 5-year-old Gelding
Zentenary (USA) [First Defence – Celestic (Sky Classic)] 5-year-old Gelding
Haemaru (KOR) [Vicar – Forest Flower (Timber Country)] 5-year-old Gelding

Korea Cup & Sprint Nominations Well Underway / Keeneland Sponsor Both Races

There are just a week to go until preliminary nominations close for the inaugural Korea Cup and Korea Sprint. The two international races, which will be sponsored by Keeneland, will be run at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday September 11th.


Choegang Schiller and Lee Chan Ho won last year’s Asia Challenge Cup which this year is the Korea Sprint (Pic: Ross Holburt)

The Keeneland Korea Cup has a total purse of 1 Billion Won ($830,000) – making it the most valuable race ever to be run in Korea – and the Keeneland Korea Sprint 700 Million Won ($600,000) and there has been keen interest in both races with close to 50 nominations from overseas so far. The bulk of those are from Japan and Singapore, however, horses from Hong Kong, UAE, France and Ireland are also set to take their chance.

Reports in Hong Kong confirm that well known runners Gun Pit and Circuit Land have been nominated for the Cup and Rich Tapestry and Super Jockey for the Sprint:

Early Cup and Sprint nominations from Japan and Singapore are strong too for the two races, which will be run on Seoul’s sand track at 1800M and 1200M respectively. While fewer in number, those from Europe and the UAE are also extremely competent. The full list of nominations, including local ones from Korea, will be released during next Friday’s card at Busan Racecourse. There will be a maximum field size of 16 for each race.

Keeneland, whose three annual sales are popular with Korean buyers, previously sponsored a race at Seoul on Derby Day in 2015 and were quick to acquire naming rights for the two races. “For many years, Keeneland has enjoyed a successful partnership with Korea and its horsemen through our premier horse sales. We now look forward to supporting the KRA as they prepare to welcome the world to Seoul” said Bill Thomason, Keeneland President and CEO in a joint press-release last month

In that same release the KRA’s Executive Director of Racing, Yangtae Park said of the event “Following our recent promotion to PART II and our successful hosting of international races with Japan and Singapore over the past three years, we are delighted to present the inaugural Keeneland Korea Cup, the most valuable race ever to be run in Korea. Over the coming years, we plan to build this event into one of the top weekends of international racing in Asia.”

As the latest incarnation of the already established Asia Challenge Cup, the Sprint is included in Part II this year, while the Cup, despite being of greater value is not (and the current exchange rate has unfortunately meant it won’t be quite worth US$1M).  However, both races look set to be very competitive and could be the start of something very exciting.

The same weekend also sees the running of exchange races at Seoul with the Hong Kong Jockey Club, Singapore Turf Club and Horse Racing Ireland as well as the official  unveiling of the new 120 metre long “multi-vision” screen and the opening of the infield “horse experience” theme park.

Key Dates in the build up to the race are as follows:

Friday August 12: Preliminary Nominations close
Friday August 26: 1st/Entry/Nomination
Wednesday August 31: Overseas horses expected to begin arriving in Korea
Friday September 2: Late Entry/Nomination
Thursday September 8: Declarations/Barrier Draw
Sunday September 11: Race Day

Round-up: Yoo Mira Goes Down Under, Doraon Hyeonpyo, Clean Up Cheonha, Perovic, Success Story, ARC

Plenty happening on and off the track over the past week. Doraon Hyeonpyo and Clean Up Cheonha were both impressive winners last Sunday, there has been plenty of follow-up to Success Story’s decent 3rd place in Dubai last week and Korea has been well-represented at the ongoing Asian Racing Conference in Mumbai.


Yoo Mira was 2nd in the Arabian race at Caulfield on Tuesday (Pic: Ross Holburt)

We’ll start though in Australia and rather unusually in the HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship race at Caulfield on Tuesday. We don’t mention You Mi Ra very often on these pages but the jockey (riding as “Mina You”) managed to finish 2nd in the race, which as won by Dutch jockey Cindy Klinkenberg. Thanks to Ross Holburt for the heads-up and the picture.

On the track in Korea last weekend, stand-out performances came from Doraon Hyeonpyo and Clean Up Cheonha, who won class 1 events at Seoul and Busan respectively. Doraon Hyeonpyo (Colors Flying) had won at class 1 for the first time at the end of December but despite carrying significantly more weight this time, was once more a dismissively comfortable winner in the Sunday’s Busan feature. It wasn’t a strong race but the manner of his victory suggests there is plenty more to come.

Clean Up Cheonha (El Corredor)at age 5, also seems to be on the up. The US import was 2nd in the KRA Cup Classic last August and 5th in the Grand Prix Stakes in December. On Sunday, carrying 60kg over 2000M, he beat his Cup Classic conqueror Chief Red Can and eight others by two lengths to record his eighth career victory.

It was a bitterly cold weekend across the peninsula with conditions at Seoul especially being extreme as temperatures dipped to -14C on Sunday morning. Jockeys have a tough job at the best of times but their fortitude on Sunday was impressive to say the least.

Speaking of jockeys, Djordje Perovic reached another landmark in his impressive sojourn in Korea. The Serbian rider guided home his 50th Seoul winner on Sunday, taking the very last race of the weekend on City Hunter for trainer Lee Shin Young. The victory moved Perovic into the top ten all-time foreign jockey list here.

Success Story’s solid 3rd place at Meydan last Thursday has finally reached the Korean mainstream media. While the racing press (and the popular tabloids) covered it at the weekend, the national broadcaster KBS put it on their national news bulletin on Monday. Video here. Success Story is likely to race again in Dubai in the second week of February although things are a little less certain for Cheongu, the other Korean horse at the carnival.

Finally, Korea is being widely represented at the Asian Racing Conference in Mumbai this week. The KRA’s Seungho Ryu (who seems to get just about everywhere these days) delivered a talk on quarantine protocols while Chief Marketing Officer Ben Heo spoke about addressing racing’s not inconsiderable image problem in Korea. Racing Director Yangtae Park probably generated the most interest though, using his presentation to formally announce the $1M Korea Cup which will be run at Seoul Racecourse in September and according to Andrew Hawkins at the South China Morning Post, is already attracting interest.

Racing returns to Korea this weekend with the first big race of the season, the Segye Ilbo Cup, at Seoul on Sunday.