KRA Cup Classic

Raon The Fighter Dominates KRA Cup Classic

Raon The Fighter delivered a consummate display of excellence at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon, effortlessly crossing to the front and proceeding to run the rest out of the race to win the KRA Cup Classic (2000M KOR-G2) in front of a raucous 27,000 strong crowd.

Having duelled with Japan’s Sekifu throughout the majority of last month’s international Korea Cup (1800M-IG3) but ultimately tire late on as Winner’s Man came through to take a spectacular victory, Raon The Fighter was sent off as the odds-on favourite to return to winning ways in the principal lead up to the season finale Grand Prix Stakes. The only questions were whether he could get a good position from the widest gate and whether he could see out the extended trip of 2000M, a distance he was tackling for the first time. Those who posed those questions, quickly regretted doing so.

Other than in the Korea Cup, Raon The Fighter’s only defeats had come in sprint races when stumbling at the start and then working too hard to get on terms. This Sunday, he broke beautifully from gate thirteen and jockey Moon Se Young was able to steer him across to the front immediately.

Had anything even wanted to take him on for early speed, it is doubtful whether they could have done such was Raon The Fighter’s authority, although King Of The Match and Tuhonui Banseok would gamely sit within striking distance exchanging 2nd and 3rd positions throughout. Two little accelerations from Raon The Fighter, first at the top of the home straight to put him firmly in the clear, and then again a furlong out when into unchartered territory distance-wise at the furlong pole, and Moon Se Young was left looking behind him to see if there were any dangers.

There were no dangers. Raon The Fighter was eased home for a five-length win with King Of The Match getting closest in 2nd and then a seven-length gap back to Tuhonui Banseok in 3rd. Behind them, 2021 Grand Prix Stakes winner Haengbok Wangja was 4th while Geuma Mystic and Moonhak Chief came home in 5th and 6th.

Raon The Fighter debuted in November 2020, just after racing resumed behind closed doors and for severely restricted prize money. He would have five wins on the board before prizes were restored to meaningful levels the following July and didn’t get to run in a Group race until November 2021 when he destroyed Eoma Eoma in the SROA Chairmans Trophy (1200M KOR-G3).

The KRA Cup Classic is Raon The Fighter’s third Group win having also won the Busan Owners’ Cup (1600M KOR-G3) this July. The four-year-old entire, who is by Bayern and out of Empire Maker mare Clarinda, is owned by Son Chun-soo of the ever-growing Raon racing empire which stands the stallion Musket Man. He is trained by Park Jong-kon, who now almost exclusively trains Raon horses. For trainer Park, it was a fourth KRA Cup Classic after Mari Daemul in 2013 and Cheongdam Dokki in 2017 and 2018. For jockey Moon Se-young, it was a third win in the race, having partnered Pocketful Of Money in 2007 and Cheongdam Dokki in 2017.

The logical next step for Raon The Fighter would be the Grand Prix Stakes in December and a possible rematch with Winner’s Man, who will most likely be contesting the President’s Cup next month. There are two big stars in Korean racing right now, and they will collide again soon enough.

KRA Cup Classic Sunday: Seoul & Busan: Race-By-Race Preview (October 16)

Sunday is KRA Cup Classic day at Seoul with Raon The Fighter heading a field of thirteen, six of whom come out of September’s international Korea Cup. See here for a runner-by-runner preview of the big race. There are 11 races in total at Seoul from 10:45 to 18:00 and 6 at Busan from 12:15 to 16:45. Here is the race-by-race:

Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

Juvenile maiden fillies in the opener with all but three of the twelve racing for the very first time. (7) SHINE ON ME came through two trials, posting decent times in both. She should be nice and fit for her debut outing here and with Moon Se-young aboard, is sure to have plenty of backers. (4) SEONGSILGONGJUPINK is a Hansen filly who won her trial at the end of September coming from off the pace. She draws well here and also looks set for a bold showing. (3) DASI TAEEONADO was on pace in her trial, ultimately crossing the line 2nd. She draws well to get forward again and can be considered first up. As for the experienced ones, (12) JEONGSANG LUCKY posted the fastest time while (6) GLORY AND HONOR didn’t do too much wrong and both can hope for improvement here.

Selections(7) Shine On Me (4) Seongsilgongjupink (3) Dasi Taeeonado (12) Jeongsang Lucky
Next Best6, 5
Fast Start3, 5, 7, 12

Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

Juvenile maidens. (7) META BLADE came from off the pace to run 2nd on debut over 1000M on August 20th. He should have come on for the experience, and the additional furlong can suit. It certainly suited (4) WONDERFUL INDY, who is the only one in the field to have tackled the distance. Having run 9th on debut at 1000M, he came back out on September 4th and ran a strong 2nd, settling midfield and running on. From a good gate and with that experience, he will surely be a big danger here. (2) SECRET PLAY is another who has been coming from off the pace in his two previous outings, both over 1000M. He should be doing his best work late on here and is another to consider. (3) G MOTION, a likely front-runner, and (5) SUPEREME STAR others in the hunt.

Selections(7) Meta Blade (4) Wonderful Indy (2) Secret Play (3) G Motion
Next Best5, 12
Fast Start3, 5, 7, 8

Seoul Race 3: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

Competitive maiden. It’s not often we take a chance on the only first-time starter in this kind of race, but we’re prepared to do precisely that here with (3) BLACK CHOCOLATE. He trialed up twice, running 2nd in the first of them before winning the second in September when handy throughout and running on well. The 1200M should suit first-up and he draws well. If you prefer experience, then (2) MAGIC MOCCASIN could be the one. She led for part of the way around over this distance on September 25th, her second runner-up finish. She draws well to lead again and can be in this a long way. (9) GOLD KAISER has the fastest time among those who have tackled the distance before. She returned from eight months off to run a solid 4th at this distance on September 18th and should have come on for it. She is another who likes to be on pace. (8) TOP POSITION and (6) YEONHUI SARANG are among other placing chances.

Selections(3) Black Chocolate (2) Magic Moccasin (9) Gold Kaiser (8) Top Position
Next Best6, 5
Fast Start2, 3, 6, 9

Busan Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

Juvenile maidens open at Busan with three of the eight racing for the first time. Here we will side with experience and (2) BARAMBARAM, who came from the back of a similarly small field on debut on September 23rd over this distance. He should have derived benefit from that and can go one better today. (4) ONE MIND similarly showed ability on her debut in late August when from a handy position, she ran on well for 3rd place, also at 1000M. She looks set to be on pace here and has solid claims. (7) HOTFLEX has run fairly in both starts so far, only beating a couple home each time but with the margins in front not too big. He can improve here. (5) DALLILLAEYO won a trial in September, running on pace throughout and looks to have the best chance among the first-time starters of making an impression. (3) ROAD TO DREAM too put in a fair time in his trial and can go well first up.

Selections(2) Barambaram (4) One Mind (7) Hotflex (5) Dallillaeyo
Next Best3, 8
Fast Start3, 4, 5, 7

Seoul Race 4: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

(2) GOMANARU has improved across three starts so far, culminating in a runner- up finish over 1300M on September 18th when settling back in midfield and running on. He stretches out to 1400M for the first time, and it could be what he needs to land himself in the winner’s circle. After an indifferent debut, (1) PERFECT GUN MAN has hinted at ability with back-to-back 4th place finishes in fair times at 1000M and 1200M. He too has been running on in his races and may appreciate the step up in trip today. (8) SARANG DAMOA is one of four racing here who does have experience of the distance already and among those, she has the fastest time. She is yet to win in eleven, but her recent form reads well, and despite being drawn widest, she can settle close to the pace here and she will run on. (7) PAX NURI and (3) TWO ACE the others in the placing frame.

Selections(2) Gomanaru (1) Perfect Gun Man (8) Sarang Damoa (7) Pax Nuri
Next Best3, 4
Fast Start1, 2, 3, 8

Busan Race 2: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

(9) ETERNAL ACE has made steady progress across nine starts so far and registered a 3rd place over this distance on September 18th having led throughout and posting a time almost a second faster than anything else here has managed over the distance and he should be hard to hold out here. (5) COME ON FIRST races for the first time since running 2nd at start number two back in May. He looked well when coming through a fast trial at the start of September and has every chance of a bold showing first up here. (1) POLE TO WIN also returns from a spell out having not raced since July. He ran fairly in September trial and can get on pace from the inside gate and be in this a long way. (4) ECTON POWER and (2) FLEX SHINHWA both need their latest starts (in the same race) forgiven, but both can go better here.

Selections(9) Eternal Ace (5) Come On First (1) Pole To Win (4) Ecton Power
Next Best2, 8
Fast Start1, 3, 5, 9

Seoul Race 5: Class 6 (1400M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

(7) ALL FOR YOUR DREAM returned from nine months out to run 3rd at this distance on September 17th when handy throughout. He should have derived plenty of benefit from that run, strip a bit fitter here, and he can get his maiden win. (1) EUREKA had four 4th placed finishes from seven starts so far. He suffered a reverse behind a couple of these last time out on September 3rd but draws nicely here and can be aiming for improvement. (8) LUXSEN was one of those who finished ahead of Eureka on September 3rd. He subsequently ran 6th over 1200M three weeks ago but this can suit a little more and he can go close again. (3) ROCK IMPACT comes up to this trip for the first time and it may well suit, while (4) P N S KING has mixed his form across twelve starts so far but can enter the calculations in this company.


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


Eoma Eoma finally got the Graded race win his talent has always promised in the SBS Sports Sprint while Australian trainer Peter Wolsley saddled his fifth Korean Graded winner as Mr. Afleet took out the KRA Cup Classic on a big Sunday afternoon of action at Seoul Racecourse.

The SBS Sports Sprint (1200M-KOR G3) was one of the few Graded races that managed to get run in 2020 and on Sunday, Morfhis returned to defend his title while East Jet and Blue Chipper took their place in a star-studded lineup. Eoma Eoma was only 3rd in last year’s race but had progressed to such an extent in the meantime, including smashing the 1400M Seoul track record, that he was sent off as hot favourite, despite drawing the widest gate.

In the event, that draw meant that Eoma Eoma would be wide all the way around and would be tested every step of the way by East Jet as Alan Munro kept his Strike Again gelding, winner of last year’s SROA Trophy on the rail and in the lead throughout. Moon Se Young meanwhile on Eoma Eoma simply couldn’t find his way inside with not only East Jet but also Blue Chipper and Yeongung Louis keeping him outside.

Class told, as in the home straight and still wide, Eoma Eoma was relentless and despite a very game run by East Jet, Eoma Eoma eventually swept by just meters from the finishing line to win by half a length. It was a tenth career win on his twelfth start for the American bred four-year-old colt, who is by Algorithms and out of the Run Away And Hide mare Lignite.

East Jet was a strong 2nd while there was a potential breakout performance by lightly-raced three-year-old Yeongung Louis [Violence – Don’t Stop To Shop (Unbridled’s Song)] in 3rd. It proved a hard day at the office though for defending champion Morfhis, who ran 5th, and even harder for Blue Chipper, who faded to 9th. It’s a first Graded win for Eoma Eoma, but few would back it being the last.

An hour later, once more the widest gate prevailed as Mr. Afleet won the 36th running of the KRA Cup Classic (2000M-KOR G2).

The 2019 Korea Cup winner Moonhak Chief led from the gate, but Mr. Afleet [Afleet Alex – In Escrow (Vindication)] took command in the home straight and saw off the attentions of the up and comer Haengbok Wangja to claim victory by a nose in a photo-finish.

Moonhak Chief would fade to 7th while Cheongdam Dokki, seeking a third win in the race after victories in 2017 and 2018 briefly showed just behind the leaders but ultimately weakened to last (an initial post-race check showed no obvious issues). With Tiz Plan also misfiring, there was a sense of a possible changing of the guard although the six-year-old Jjang Kong running 3rd and the evergreen eight-year-old Shamrocker, a remarkable 4th quickly belied that idea.

Speaking after the race, winning jockey Seo Seung-un told in-house broadcaster KRBC that everything went to plan “The draw wasn’t good, but I was surprised how easy it was to get to the position that I wanted to be in. I followed Moonhak Chief across and from then on it was simple.” When quizzed on whether he thought he and Mr. Afleet would be back in the winner’s circle at Seoul in December’s Grand Prix Stakes, Seo had something else in mind. “Of course, the Grand Prix is the target but he is eligible for the (Busan) Owners’ Cup (1600M on November 21st) so they might go there, but I just hope for the Grand Prix” before adding: “it isn’t up to me, anyway.”

Seo Seung-un will be traveling back to Busan minus a substantial percentage of his winnings after stewards penalized him to the tune of $1,000 for unacceptable whip use in the home straight. Haengbok Wangja’s jockey Kim Yong-geun was also found guilty and punished for the same offence. In their ungainly windmilling, both were lucky they didn’t unbalance their mounts to the extent of taking them out of contention and both thoroughly deserve their (lenient) punishment.

It was another training triumph for Peter Wolsley, who back in 2007 became the first foreign trainer to be granted a license in Korea. It took him several years of sheer hard graft to establish himself, but in January last year Mr. Afleet chalked up Wolsley’s 500th Korean winner. On Sunday, the same horse gave him his fifth Korean Graded Stakes winner and his first since Bold Kings came to Seoul and won the Grand Prix Stakes in 2015. This coming Boxing Day, Mr. Afleet may just make the unassuming man from Bendigo a two-time Grand Prix winner.

Blue Chipper, Eoma Eoma, Morfhis, East Jet, Cheongdam Dokki, Tiz Plan, Moonhak Chief & More: SUPER SUNDAY SBS Sports Sprint & KRA Cup Classic Race-By-Race Preview (October 24)

There is double Group race action at Seoul on Sunday afternoon (sadly behind-closed-doors) with the SBS Sports Sprint at the KRA Cup Classic. There are 9 races at Seoul from 10:45 to 18:00 and 6 at Busan from 12:10 to 17:30.

Cheongdam Dokki on his way to his second Cup Classic 3 years ago (Pic:KRA)

Blue Chipper returns to Seoul Racecourse on Sunday for the first time since winning the Korea Sprint in 2019, a victory which punched his ticket to Santa Anita where he went on to run 3rd in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. He’s back at the Sprint distance of 1200M but runs slap bang into a host of Korea’s top sprint stars, including new star Eoma Eoma in the SBS Sports Sprint (KOR-G3).

Algorithms four-year-old Eoma Eoma took part in this race last year and ran a strong 3rd but has only got better in the intervening time, breaking the track record at 1400M and putting in a string of fine runs. He has drawn the outside gate but there is every reason to believe that won’t matter.

Blue Chipper draws well and after a frustrating campaign of giving away vast amounts of weight in handicaps during the Covid-relief racing period, finally gets to run at level weights. But even if he manages to see off Eoma Eoma, there is still plenty of other talent to deal with.

Morfhis won this race last year, powering home late under Johan Victoire. The draw doesn’t matter for him and in a race with lots of early speed, he may well take advantage. East Jet, from the inside gate is also a huge danger. He won the SROA Trophy last year at this distance and has posted formidable times.

Morfhis won the 2020 SBS Sports with Eoma Eoma in 3rd

An hour later, Cheongdam Dokki will bid for an unprecedented third victory in the KRA Cup Mile (KOR G2) over 2000M at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday as the popular chestnut heads the field for the 36th running of the race.

Winner in 2017 and 2018 before running 2nd to Dolkong in 2019 (there was no race in 2020 due to the pandemic), the now seven-year-old Cheongdam Dokki made his first start for trainer Tony Castenheira three weeks ago when successfully holding off the fast-finishing Jjang Kong to return to the winner’s circle over 1800M. He faces a star-studded set of rivals on Sunday. 

Korea Cup 2019 winner Moonhak Chief returns to action for the first time since May as does Tiz Plan, who knows a thing or two about lowering Cheongdam Dokki’s colours, having defeated him in last year’s Busan Mayor’s Cup. All three horses will very much appreciate being back running under weight for age conditions after a year of giving away significant weight in handicaps.

The up-and-coming Haengbok Wangja enters off a seven-race winning streak, made even more remarkable by the fact that he failed to win any of his first seven starts. The Daerdevil colt dips his toe into elite waters for the first time, but such has been the manner of his recent rise that he may even start the race as betting favourite.

Five horses have travelled up from Busan and the two best south-coast hopes are both trained by Peter Wolsley. Mr. Afleet is a winner of nine from fourteen and while he will have to overcome having drawn the widest gate, he enters in form and will have plenty of backers. So too will his stablemate Hunch, the biggest winner from the barrier draw, and a big winner at this distance in Busan in the summer.

Here is the race-by-race for both meetings:

Seoul Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

Juvenile maidens to kick things off with nine of the twelve racing for the first time. We will side with experience for the top two picks though. (5) LUCKY INDY ran 5th on debut on September 19th, sitting handy and briefly leading before being passed. It was promising enough, and she draws well to get forward today and has fair claims. So too does probable favourite (10) RAON THE WEEKEND. Having won a trial in August, she led for much of the way around on debut on September 18th, ultimately weakening and finishing 5th. The draw is not ideal for her here but if she can get to the front here, she may be difficult to pass. Among the first timers, (4) YONGHOJIMA is the pick. He went through a couple of trials and significantly improved in the second of them, running 3rd in a decent time on a dry track He draws nicely here and surely goes well. (6) TEUKBYEOL trialed up behind the likes of Moonhak Chief and Tiz Plan. She didn’t get involved with those and went around at the back, completing the course competently and in a fair time. The jockey booking will cause plenty to take note. (1) GRAND POWER went through two trials, going well in both.

Selections(5) Lucky Indy (10) Raon The Weekend (4) Yonghojima (6) Teukbyeol
Next Best1, 7
Fast Start4, 5, 7, 10

Seoul Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

Quite a good standard maiden this with plenty looking capable of winning. We will go with (9) STELLA ROAD, who has been knocking on the door across her four starts so far, finishing between 2nd and 4th in each of them. She has the fastest time among these at the distance and in a race devoid of much early speed, she can get on pace or handy and is just about the one to beat. (5) GEOSEN GISANG has finished in 5th place in both starts so far, both at this distance and in fair times, beating a couple of today’s rivals last time. She has a fast start comparable to most here and from a good draw can be on pace and improve. (6) SWEET CAMP was an improved 2nd at start number two on September 19th when she led for much of the way around. She’ll be on pace again and can go close again. (1) YES I CAN came from well back to run on well for 2nd in good time on September 4th and he too has claims to match or even better that from the same gate. (4) FAST TRACK comes up in trip for the first time and may benefit.

Selections(9) Stella Road (5) Geosen Gisang (6) Sweet Camp (1) Yes I Can
Next Best4, 8
Fast Start1, 5, 6, 9

Seoul Race 3: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(9) BYEOLBIT MARU broke through at start number three with a comprehensive score over 1000M on September 19th when she settled just behind the leaders before taking things up at the top of the straight and running away from the field. She comes up in both class and in distance today, but the manner of that win suggests there is more to come. (6) DAEJIUI YEOGEOL was a class and distance winner on September 18th, settling back in the field and making good ground in the straight. She has mixed her form but has run consistent times and can be a threat here. (12) GWANGYANG EUTTEUM got his maiden win at this distance at class 6 level and then ran a good class and distance 3rd place having led for much of the way on October 2nd. The draw is not ideal here, but she has run good times already and has a winning chance again.  (11) POWER BOX has shown plenty of speed in a 4th place and a win at class 6 level. He led during that win, so the draw isn’t ideal, and he is up in both class and distance but looks to have potential for more development. (4) GREAT THUNDER is consistent and another sure to be involved at the business end of the race.

Selections(9) Byeolbit Maru (6) Daejiui Yeogeol (12) Gwangyang Eutteum (11) Power Box
Next Best4, 10
Fast Start1, 8, 11, 12

Busan Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

Juvenile filly maidens here with nine of the twelve racing for the very first time. It’s from those first timers that we find our favourite and top pick, (3) ILBEONJI. The Cowboy Cal filly looked very assured when leading all the way in her trial, cantering home with minimal urging in a good time. Drawing well here, she can lead all the way. On the same day, (4) SEOGWI PLUS also trialed up. She was ridden a little harder in her heat but once she had shaken off the rest was allowed to cruise to the line, stopping the clock in the exact same time as Ilbeonji would thirty minutes later. Ilbeonji goes on top here due to having done the same time in less effort, but it would be no surprise if Seogwi Plus put up a stiff challenge. (8) GREEN PAPAGO trialed up nicely behind an experienced trial winner, running on pleasingly enough. With an apprentice claim she has a feather weight on her back and can run well first-up. Among the experience (12) QUEEN’S DAERO ran a good 4th on debut over 1000M in a fair time three weeks ago. She drew wide that day too and should be aiming to match or better here. (11) WISH LUCK took a while to get going on debut but should have come on for the experience and can improve on her 8th place.

Selections(3) Ilbeonji (4) Seogwi Plus (8) Green Papago (12) Queen’s Daero
Next Best11, 6
Fast Start3, 4, 5, 12

Seoul Race 4: Class 5 (1400M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

Fillies only here and a very competitive race with all but one having finished no worse than 6th in their latest outing and with four up in class last start winners. Really a case can be made for any of them, but we have to decide so we will go for the least experienced, (3) MENIFEE MUSIC to continue to improve. She is one of the up in class ones following a maiden win at start number two over 1200M on September 11th. She worked her way from gate nine to get on the speed that day and ran on well and can be competitive here. (11) DIECO is super consistent with eleven top-five finishes from sixteen starts. She comes in off a good 2nd place over 1300M last start and her solitary win to date came from this gate three starts back. (7) BAEDARI CANDY didn’t run badly when tried at 1700M last time out but should be better today. She won at class and distance in a fast time on August 15th and while she carries more weight this time, should be firmly in the hunt. (12) MAGIC TIDE remains a maiden after six attempts but ran on very strongly from the back for 3rd over 1200M at this class on her latest start and may appreciate the step up in distance here. (1) LAPEIO BAN, another up in class, is one of several others with equal claims.

Selections(3) Menifee Music (11) Dieco (7) Baedari Candy (12) Magic Tide
Next Best1, 4
Fast Start3, 7, 10, 11

Busan Race 2: Class 6 (1600M) Allowance / KRW 25 Million

Maidens, and stepping up to a mile for the first time, (11) CATCH THE SUN is the favourite. She has finished in the top five on all five of her starts so far and looks to be working towards a win following a good runner-up finish over 1400M on October 3rd, when she settled handy and ran on well behind a good winner. Her times have been consistent, the draw doesn’t look a problem and she may take some beating. (5) MAJOR FORCE came home in 3rd place behind Catch The Sun in that 1400M race three weeks ago, when she came from well back in the field. That was her best finish in eleven starts and she may well be ready for another attempt on a mile here. (3) NORTHERN LIGHTS has been consistent in recent outings and beat a couple of these on her way to 5th place over 1400M on September 19th. From a good draw, she should be aiming for better here. (4) ANY LINE and (8) OMEGA GIRL are others in the placing frame.

Selections(11) Catch The Sun (5) Major Force (3) Northern Lights (4) Any Line
Next Best8, 1
Fast Start4, 6, 8, 11

KRA Cup Classic Sunday – Seoul & Busan Race-By-Race Preview (October 6)

September’s Keeneland Korea Cup and Sprint resulted in home wins for the very first time. While Sprint winner Blue Chipper seems set to make his next start in the USA, this Sunday at Seoul Racecourse, Cup winner Moonhak Chief headlines what is in effect, a re-match of the big race against domestic rivals Cheongdam Dokki and Dolkong, over 2000M in the KRA Cup Classic (KOR G2). There are 11 races at Seoul on Sunday from 10:45 to 18:00 and 6 at Busan from 12:40 to 17:10. Race-by-race is below with horse by horse for the Cup Classic. Busan selections at the bottom:

Moonhak Chief Moon Se Young Korea Cup

Moonhak Chief & Moon Se Young winning the Korea Cup last month (Pic: Ross Holburt/KRA)

Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

Juvenile filly maiden to kick things off with precisely half the field having raced before. Three of those did rather well. Both (6) DOKBO CHEONHA and (10) GEOSEN JILJU ran 2nd on their respective debuts last month, both in good times with the latter only beaten a nose. Both are likely to be on the early speed here and have serious claims. (3) QUIET ADELE ran 3rd on her debut back in August, coming from just behind the pace and running through the line well. She should have come on for the eight weeks off and should go close. Among the first-time starters, (8) STUNNING HANSEN was a trial winner at the end of August while (5) SHINY QUEEN also caught the eye in her heat. As ever with the newcomers, watch the market for additional clues.

Selections (10) Geoseon Jilju (3) Quiet Adele (6) Dokbo Cheonha (8) Stunning Hansen
Next Best 5, 2
Fast Start 6, 10

Race 2: Class 4 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 75 Million

More juvenile maidens here, this time with five of the twelve having raced before. Both (10) DYNAMIC COMING and (12) BRAVE QUEEN ran 2nd on their respective debuts, the former over 1300M and the latter over today’s distance. Despite their wide draws, both will be expected to head to the front here and both should be in the mix. (7) HWANGGEUM LUCKY was anything but lucky on his debut back in August. He had previously trialled well though so gets a chance today. It’s one of the debut-makers that they’ll need to beat tough. (2) UNCLE BELL looked extremely competent when winning a trial in a fast time – ahead of a couple of the other first-timers here – two weeks ago. He came from just behind the early pace and if he brings that kind of form to the races, he’ll be tough to beat. (4) MUNHAK TAP too won his trial and should go well first up.

Selections (2) Uncle Bell (10) Dynamic Coming (12) Brave Queen (4) Munhak Tap
Next Best 7, 8
Fast Start 10, 12

Race 3: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

More maidens and (10) MEOTJIN GEUMSEONG looks set to be hot favourite. He’s run 4th in both his starts so far, both times being defeated by very useful looking types, most recently at this distance. He hasn’t led in his races yet but expect him to be ridden forward here and he should win. (5) THE BEAST also enters with two 4ths from two starts. He steps up in trip for the first time here and is the main danger to the favourite. (8) CHOGANGGUK didn’t nothing much wrong when 5th on debut at this distance at the end of August and can build on it here. Similarly (9) J M FIGHTER has hinted ability across his two efforts so far. The more experienced (3) BAEKDU GEOPO looks best of the rest.

Selections (10) Meotjin Geumseong (5) The Beast (8) Chogangguk (9) J M Fighter
Next Best 3, 11
Fast Start 1, 6, 10

Race 4: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million

Fillies (and one mare) only. (2) CHEONDUNG YEOUL led gate to wire for a five-length win over 1000M on debut on September 1st. She steps up in both class and distance today but the manner of that score suggests there is more to come. She looks to be the only real early speed here and she can win again. (8) QUEEN OF CAMP remains a maiden but has finished in the top four on no fewer than nine of her eleven starts and while she may have to settle for another near miss, she shouldn’t be far away. (3) PRIME QUEEN and (6) RAON MIRACLE should both improve on their respective last starts given the slightly softer company today. (7) MASYA is another capable of going close.

Selections (2) Cheondung Yeoul (8) Queen Of Camp (3) Prime Queen (6) Raon Miracle
Next Best 7, 4
Fast Start 2

Race 5: Class 4 (1000M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million

(2) SAGWARANG returned from almost a year out to pick up right where she left off and won over this distance on August 10th. That was at this class and while there are perhaps a few more dangers this time around, there’s no reason why she can’t win again. (7) JEONGSANG STAR was rapidly promoted to this class following back to back wins, one a dead-heat, in July and August. She ran a useful enough 5th on her first try at this level over 1200M last month but should be better dropped back to the minimum trip today. (4) ULTRA CHAMPION returns after eight months off and looked sharp in a trial a couple of weeks ago, (11) FIRENZE HILL and the up in class (12) GEUMSEONGHWANGJE are others to take into account.

Selections (2) Sagwarang (7) Jeongsang Star (4) Ultra Champion (12) Geumseonghwangje
Next Best 11, 9
Fast Start 2, 8, 12

Race 6: Class 5 (1700M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

(5) CHUNGDAM HORANGI never really recovered from an early bump when well backed last start and ended up beating only two home. He’s better than that though and well worth another chance today. (10) RED SUN too had a hard time last start but steps up to this distance for the first time and can go better here. (1) ACE DONQUI and (12) GOLD LEVEL are both up in class having won at this distance on their respective latest starts. Both will need to improve significantly if they are to have a chance here though with (4) AMARONE and (11) COLORS KING perhaps more likely candidates.

Selections (5) Chungdam Horangi (10) Red Sun (11) Colors King (12) Gold Level
Next Best 4, 9
Fast Start 4, 8

Race 7: Class 4 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 60 Million

(2) GEUMSEONG YEOWANG ran out a five-length winner at class and distance on August 18th and while he carries an additional 3.5kg today, still looks very much the one they’ll need to beat here. He led gate to wire that day and is well drawn to do the same. (3) GEUMA ANNUITY remains a maiden following twelve attempts but has been consistently close and should be a danger here while (7) MUNHAKUI JEONSA is a class and distance winner already and still looks to have scope for further development. (4) GREAT LEE is (more…)

Cheongdam Dokki Bounces Back To Retain KRA Cup Classic

Cheongdam Dokki successfully defended his KRA Cup Classic crown at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon, taking victory on the 2000M Korean Group 2 event by two-and-a-half lengths and taking the first steps to putting defeat in the Billion Won Korea Cup International race last month firmly behind him.

Dolkong was a morning scratching, the Korea Cup runner-up having injured the frog of his hoof in a gallop this week. Although close to making the race, discretion proved the better part of valour and he was withdrawn as a precaution with the future in mind but that still left a high-quality field for Chongdam Dokki to defeat if he was to bounce back from the humbling he received when trying to match Japan’s London Town for pace in the Cup.

Defeat them he did. Sent off at long odds-on, Cheongdam Dokki led from the gate under jockey Lim Gi-won, who was restored to the mount, and looked a winner every step of the way. Triple Nine, racing for the first time since finishing 3rd behind him in the Busan Mayor’s Cup three months ago, hit his top gear late to come home 2nd while three-year-old US import Munhak Chief (by Pioneerof The Nile) scored a very promising 3rd.

Champion mare Silver Wolf came home 4th but there was no luck for two-time SBS Sports Sprint winner Doraonpogyeongseon, who ended up 6th of the 8 on his first try at 2000M.

Sunday Seoul: KRA Cup Classic Day – Race-By-Race Preview (October 7)

It’s KRA Cup Classic Day in Seoul and Cheongdam Dokki can begin to put his Korea Cup disappointment behind him as he is set to start as favourite to successfully defend the crown he won last year. There are 11 Sunday races at Seoul from 10:45 to 18:00 and 6 at Busan from 12:40 to 17:10. Here are the Seoul previews with horse by horse comments for the KRA Cup Classic:

Cheongdam Dokki Mayor's Cup Lets Run Park Busan

Cheongdam Dokki goes in the KRA Cup Classic

Race 1: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(1) JEOKTO BIMA has shown progression across three starts so far and enters with back to back 4th place finishes. Drawn in gate 1, she steps up in trip for the first time, should be prominent early and can win this. (9) GEOTAP too races for the fourth time today and ran creditably at this distance last time. She should also be on pace early and can go close. (10) GOODCHOICE is more experienced and does have a 3rd place to his name and while a touch one-paced, can improve on the 5th he recorded at this distance last start. (3) BINNANEUN RUBY and (8) FOR J.K. are others who can improve among modest company here.

Selections (1) Jeokto Bima (10) Goodchoice (9) Geotap (8) For J.K.
Next Best 3, 7
Fast Start 1, 8, 9

Race 2: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(1) HANEULEUL DALRIDA started badly and received a heavy bump which he never really recovered from when well-fancied over 1300M on September 1st. He drops back in trip today to a distance at which he was 2nd in July and with a clean start today, will be the one they need to beat in what is another weak contest. (7) SCARLET PERFECT also has a 2nd place at this distance and wasn’t too far away last time. (9) SOKBO WANGWI has been knocking on the door for some time now and is another who shouldn’t be far away. (10) STAR SOCKS is inconsistent but has offered some glimpses of ability. She races for the first time since June and should challenge for the early lead. There are two debut-makers and in a race with a distinct lack of talent in it, they must be given due consideration. Of the pair, (6) GOOD MOUNT seems the more likely to make an impact first-up.

Selections (1) Haneuleul Dalrida (7) Scarlet Perfect (9) Sokbo Wangwi (6) Good Mount
Next Best 10, 3
Fast Start 1, 8, 10

Race 3: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

Juvenile maidens here and seven of the twelve have raced before, each of them just the once. The favourites are among them. (1) SENTOSA debuted in a valuable race for Breeze-up Sales graduates and ran reasonably well over 1200M. She was prominent early and dropping back to 1000M today may suit. (9) ACE SOLONGO and (10) WONDERFUL DIXIE both finished 3rd on their respective debuts, both at this distance and both can build on it here. (4) M.J. TOWN was a close in attendance 5th on her first attempt in what was a decent race on September 2nd and she too looks likely to improve. Among the first-timers, (8) IRON HEART and (12) BIG PRO looked best in trials.

Selections (1) Sentosa (4) M.J. Town (9) Ace Solongo (10) Wonderful Dixie
Next Best 5, 2
Fast Start 1, 5, 10, 12

Race 4: Class 5 (1200M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(7) CHANGPA is yet to win, with a 4th and two runner-up finishes from three efforts to date but despite being up in class here, this could be her day. She has run on well in each of her outings so far and the additional furlong may suit in a race that is not much stronger than the average class 6. Indeed, her main rival is set to be another one up in class in the shape of (12) SABA KINGDOM, who ran out a five-length winner over 1000M on September 9th. He made all that day and will be trying to overcome the widest draw and the step up in trip to repeat here. Among those with experience of this level, (2) DAECHEON HERO and (4) SOKDO SHINHWA should be improving on the 6th and 7th places they recorded when they raced each other at 1000M on September 1st while (11) SPECIAL WINNER drops back in trip following a hard time at 1700M a month ago and can come into consideration.

Selections (7) Changpa (12) Saba Kingdom (2) Daecheon Hero (11) Special Winner
Next Best 4, 10
Fast Start 1, 2, 12

Race 5: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(1) TAURUS ran a good 2nd at this distance on what was his first try at this level on August 26th. He’s yet to finish outside the top two in three starts so far and he should maintain that record here. (3) BAEKSAN MENIQUEEN stepped up to this class and (more…)

Cheongdam Dokki Downs Clean Up Joy To Cruise To Seoul’s Summit

There is a new force in Korean racing. His name is Cheongdam Dokki.

Even though he was going up against Clean Up Joy, last year’s winner and top-rated at Seoul, and New Citadel, who had already beaten him, nobody really thought he would lose. And he didn’t. However, the ease with which Cheongdam Dokki won the KRA Cup Classic served notice that this really is a potential star.

KRA Cup Classic (KOR G2) – Seoul Racecourse – 2000M – October 22, 2017

1. Cheongdam Dokki (USA) [To Honor And Serve – Elusive Gold (Strike The Gold)] – Moon Se Young – 1.6, 1.1
2. New Citadel (USA) [With Distinction – Ree Ensign (Proud And True)] – Jo Jae Ro – 1.1
3. Clean Up Joy (USA) [Purge – Greta’s Joy (Joyeux Danseur)] – Djordje Perovic – 1.2
Distances: 4 lengths / 9 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Clean Up Cheonha (USA) 5. Shamrocker (USA) 6. Suseong Captain (KOR) 7. Muhudaeje (USA) 8. Cheonjeok (USA)

It was over by the first corner, champion jockey Moon Se Young taking Cheongdam Dokki into an early lead from the gate and while Clean Up Joy and New Citadel closed the gap and then went with him rounding the far turn, it was clear they were under pressure a long way out.

In the straight there was only ever going to be one winner. The margin on the line was 4-lengths from New Citadel (who may provide some interest over the 2300M of the Grand Prix Stakes) with Clean Up Joy a further 9 lengths back in 3rd. To give some context to it, Clean Up Joy today ran his quickest ever time at 2000M – and he had tackled the distance on no fewer than eight prior occasions, winning on seven of them. Yet he was over two seconds slower than Cheongdam Dokki today.

Cheongdam Dokki, a gelding, was a $20,000 purchase from the 2015 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. Despite the obvious talent, he hasn’t always been the easiest to handle but has now won four races in a row by margins of his choosing. There are still others he needs to beat; Dolkong at Seoul and of course Triple Nine and Power Blade, but on today’s performance, few would bet against him against any of those. Hopefully, they will meet. While a trip to the Dubai World Cup Carnival unfortunately doesn’t appear to be on his agenda, the next few months could be very interesting.

KRA Cup Classic: Clean Up Joy vs Cheongdam Dokki (Race-By-Race Preview – October 22)

It’s the showdown that we’ve been waiting for. At least for the past three months anyway. It was disappointing that both Clean Up Joy and Cheongdam Dokki swerved the Korea Cup last month but they finally do meet at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday, taking top billing in the local Group 2 KRA Cup Classic. There are 11 Sunday races at Seoul from 10:45 to 18:00 and 6 at Busan from 12:40 to 17:10. 

Clean Up Joy YTN Shamrocker

Clean Up Joy beat Shamrocker in the YTN Cup earlier this year – he’ll have more than just his stablemate to deal with today (Pic: Alex Cairns)

Here are today’s Seoul notes:

Race 1: Class 6 (1300M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

Twelve fillies to kick things off and this looks a slightly softer ask for (3) P.K. TIME than when she could only manage 3rd place when favourite over 1000M on September 9th. This is her first try at the distance but she should be at the front early and can go all the way. (5) FOR J.K and (10) FIORE finished 3rd and 4th when racing each other over 1200M a month ago and both should be competitive here with Fiore fancied to overturn that form while the more experienced (12) DONGSEO GADEUK should be getting close in this company too. Similarly experienced, (7) STORMY PASSION is another to take into consideration.

Selections (3) P.K. Time (10) Fiore (5) For J.K (12) Dongseo Gadeuk
Next Best 7, 11
Fast Start 3, 6, 9

Race 2: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 60 Million

Juvenile race with enhanced prize money sees seven of the twelve racing for the first time. However, it’s from those with experience that we draw our top picks. Both (2) GLOBAL BANK and (3) THE JIJON came home in 2nd place on their respective debuts in September and it’s The Jijon, who led until the closing stages over 1200M, who is favoured to score here with Global Bank having to settle for 2nd once more. They’re both (more…)