KRA Trophy

Seoul & Busan Sunday: Race-By-Race Preview (July 22)

There are 11 Sunday races at Seoul from 10:45 to 18:00 and 6 at Busan from 12:40 to 17:05. The feature race is the Ilgan Sports Trophy at Seoul where Sharp Kaylan, 2nd in the final leg of the Triple Crown last month, has the chance to pick up a piece of silverware. Immediately after the last race at Seoul, the KRA Trophy at Kranji in Singapore will be shown . Three Korean horses, Today, Gakbyeolhan and Approach, have made the trip over. Here are race-by-race comments for the Seoul meeting. Busan selections (and one for Kranji) are below:

Ministers3

Sharp Kaylan came close in the Minister’s Cup but had to settle for 2nd place. He can win Sunday’s Ilgan Sports (Pic: KRA)

Race 1: Class 6 (1000M) Allowance / KRW 40 Million

(3) GYEONGGUKJIMA ran a strong 3rd in a good time on debut on June 16th, racing on pace throughout. She’s well drawn to lead early and should make all the running in this all-filly maiden. (5) HEUNG OREUM debuted in the same race, ending in a creditable 5th and she can build on that here although she has plenty to find on the favourite. (7) LUCAS was also 3rd on her debut last month and while she was slightly less impressive than Gyeonggukjima, she can at least match that here. First-time starter (4) DANGDAE SONYEO looks an interesting proposition under Manoel Nunes while (9) STAR LIST beat a couple of these on her way to an improved 3rd on her fourth career start four weeks ago.

Selections (3) Gyeonggukjima (7) Lucas (5) Heung Oreum (4) Dangdae Sonyeo
Next Best 9, 10
Fast Start 1, 3, 4, 7

Race 2: Class 6 (1200M) Allowance / KRW 24 Million

(7) HANIL DALBIT has shown promise across four prior starts. His best finish came when he was just beaten a neck over the distance at the end of April having led almost until the line. Last time out he was favourite and while he could only manage 4th, is worth another chance here. (2) SOKBO WANGWI was 6th that day on her first try at this distance and she can continue to progress. (6) SANTOS has been inconsistent but has shown some talent and can be a danger most likely challenging Hanil Dalbit for the early speed. (3) DAEGIL SANGJON offered few clues in two outings last year but returns here after ten months off having trialled up very promisingly a couple of weeks ago and can go well first-up. (9) BEST LEVEL was a much-improved 2nd, albeit a full thirteen lengths behind the winner, at this distance on a soaking wet track three weeks ago and could maintain that momentum.

Selections (7) Hanil Dalbit (6) Santos (3) Daegil Sangjon (2) Sokbo Wangwi
Next Best 9, 11
Fast Start 6, 7

Race 3: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

A convincing winner over 1000M in May, (4) PALDO DAEJANG stepped up to this class and distance on June 17th and ran a good 2nd place. He was favourite that day but can be given another chance here. He’ll try to get the lead straight from the gate and can go all the way. (7) HAMBAK MISO won on debut back in March and has been close in all three outings since, culminating in 2nd place behind Penetro at the end of May. He comes in here reasonably fresh and should be close again. (2) RAON PRO SENSE is up in class after his maiden win at 1000M on June 23rd and while he has struggled on both previous tries at this distance, could go better today. (3) DUAL CHOEGANG remains a maiden after sixteen attempts but looks to be getting to grips with this level and could make a place.

Selections (4) Paldo Daejang (7) Hambak Miso (2) Raon Pro Sense (3) Dual Choegang
Next Best 6, 5
Fast Start 2, 4

Race 4: Class 5 (1300M) Handicap / KRW 40 Million

(5) UNDEFEATED won on debut in May but hasn’t quite lived up to his name in two starts since although he has run well, finishing 2nd and 3rd at 1200M and 1000M respectively. He’s with a new trainer today and tries this distance for the first time and can return to winning ways. (1) ROYAL PRINCE scored his maiden win at 1000M and steps up in class here. He’s raced reasonably well at this distance before and can be competitive. (7) DAECHEONUI SARANG ran a good, if slightly unexpected 3rd at class and distance last start four weeks ago and can be given more respect today while (8) CHUKBOGUI (more…)

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Some Thoughts on the KRA Trophy at Kranji in Singapore This Coming Sunday

The Korea Racing Authority Trophy will be run at Kranji Racecourse in Singapore on Sunday and for the fourth year in a row, Korean horses will be taking part. The record of those who have made the trip in previous years is somewhat less than stellar so can Today, Gakbyeolhan and Approach do differently this time around?

The trio hve been at Kranji for almost a week now and the Singapore Turf Club has an excellent write up of their progress as well as an interview with Franco Da Silva, who will be partnering Today in the 1200M race, which is worth S$250,000.

First the history, and it’s not good from a Korean perspective. 2015 saw the inaugural running of the race with Gamdonguibada, Cheon Gu and Nobody Catch Me making the trip. Cheon Gu led  into the home-straight before tiring and being passed. Gamdonguibada, perhaps predictably for a miler dropping down to six furlongs, took a while to get going and never really fired, beating just one. Nobody Catch Me, however, ran on well for 6th place, just over four lengths behind the winner.

In 2016, it was the turn of Always Winner, Triple Five and Parang Juuibo with the latter of them being the best finisher, matching Nobody Catch Me’s 6th. Last year neither Choegangja, who was highly thought-of going into the race, nor Zentenary – who was less so – were able to make much impact, with Choegangja coming back with heat-stroke.

While the surface is evidently very different, that alone is insufficient in explaining away the hitherto poor performances; Korean horses have run well on dirt in Dubai, albeit with a longer acclimatization period. The tempo of the races is also something that tends to test Korean-trained horses when going overseas with a higher “cruising speed” required rather than the “go as fast as you can from the gate” tempo that tends to be prevalent here. They’re capable of doing it but it isn’t easy – Power Blade, for example, ran very well in Dubai but he was an exhausting watch with his rider having to contantly battle simply to keep him in contention.

So can this year’s trio make an impression? On paper, we should be very excited about Today (Drosselmeyer) and if the race was on the Korean sand, he would be the favourite. And if he takes to the polytrack even slightly, then he should be right in it. Paper isn’t polytrack though. A winner of 10 from 13, the one concern is that when Today finally met top class opposition in the SBS Sports Sprint at Seoul in early June, he came up slightly short running 3rd behind Doraonpogyeongseon and Choegang Schiller – both very accomplished sprinters. It was also his first time racing away from his home track of Busan. Da Silva rode him for the first time that day and explained that he didn’t feel the horse was as balanced as he could have been but still ran well.

In Today’s favour, he is still relatively young at four and with just those thirteen starts behind him, is perhaps not so set in his ways as to find it impossible to adapt to a different tempo of race running. He is very nicely drawn in gate 7 but he doesn’t need to lead from the start. This is a horse who has run 1:11.1 for the 1200M on the sand of Busan and 1:12.5 when carrying 58kg, a half kilo above Sunday’s assignment. He can post a competitive time on the polytrack.

A stablemate of Today, Gakbyeolhan (Big Brown) was a standout juvenile who won four of his first five races. He then missed more than a year through injury, returning in the middle of his four-year-old season in June 2017. He’s won twice since coming back but both of them have been in the last four months over 1800M and 2000M respectively. Dropping back to a sprint distance today makes for a bit of an unknown but he will be expertly piloted by Fergus Sweeney, who rides in Singapore for the first time. Gakbyeolhan can give a good account of himself although expectations will not be high.

Approach (Pico Central) beat Gakbyeolhan on the way to his latest victory on what was his most recent start back at the beginning of May. That was over 1800M and he hasn’t raced at Sunday’s distance since his second ever start all the way back in October of 2014. That doesn’t mean he can’t sprint, but once a horse gets up to class 1 in Korea, there are more oportunities around two-turns. As with Gakbyeolhan, a creditable showing is a realistic target. Lee Hyo Sik, who has ridden Approach in his latest two starts (and has won on Today as well), rides.

Both Da Silva and Sweeney have picked up outside mounts and so will be familair with race riding on the track before the Trophy race. As for the Singapore horses, they look as competitive as ever in the race which will jump at 17:05 local time. Based on previous experience with Korean horses in Singapore, where even the ones with expectations upon them have come unstuck, it would be easy to toss out the chances of any of them. However, taking this set of three in isolation, we can be cautiously optimistic about Today at least, holding his own.

 

 

 

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.

Korea Festival & KRA Trophy Set For Singapore Kranji This Sunday

Three Korea-trained horses are in Singapore where they will race this coming Sunday in the KRA Trophy at Kranji Racecourse, the highlight of a “Korean Festival” day at the Singapore Turf Club.

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KRA promoting its free Exacta event for the KRA Trophy

The three horses, Always Winner, Parang Juuibo and Triple Five arrived in Singapore last Friday. Michael Lee has written a comprehensive account with pictures for STC here. The three do look up against it in the 1200M race with Bart Rice’s up and coming Triple Five perhaps the most intriguing. For any of them, however, a top-five finish would be viewed as a success.

On Sunday at Kranji, in addition to the race, the Korea festival will include Korean food and a performance by “rookie” K-Pop girl group “HADY” (most likely doing covers of more well-known songs). The day’s races from Seoul & Busan will also be simulcast live.

Just like last year, the KRA Trophy itself will be beamed back live to Seoul, Busan and Korean OTB’s. Betting on inbound simulcast remains illegal in Korea, however, a free contest will be available for the race on the mobile betting platform. Punters will be asked to pick the top five horses to finish with a prize of 5 Million Won to be split between those who get them correct.

This is the second year that Korea-based horses have trvelled to Kranji for the race. Singapore-trained horses have run in Seoul the past two editions of the Asia Challenge Cup with El Padrino winning the race in 2014. They are expected back for this year’s edition, which will be run as the “Korea Sprint” on September 11th and also for the new Korea Cup on the same day. Former Singapore-based trainer Brian Dean is now training i

Gamdonguibada, Nobody Catch Me and Cheon Gu Set To Represent Korea In Singapore

Three Korean-trained horses have been nominated to run in the Korea Racing Authority Cup at Kranji Racecourse in Singapore on Sunday July 26.

Gamdonguibada

Gamdonguibada

In what is set to be a quite historic occasion, the race will mark not only the first time Korean horses have run in Singapore but also the first time that an overseas race will be beamed back live to racecourses in Korea.

The KRA Trophy will be run over 1200M on the Kranji Polytrack with a prize fund of S$250,000. Crucially, only Singapore horses with an MRA rating no higher than 90 are eligible and this could make for an interesting race.

Busan’s top trainer Kim Young Kwan will send two horses. The best known is his 2013 Grand Prix Stakes winner and 2014 Queens’ Tour champion mare Gamdonguibada. The other is the 2014 Busan Metropolitan City Mayor’s Cup winner Nobody Catch Me. From Seoul, trainer Seo In Seok sends his up and coming colt Cheon Gu.

Gamdonguibada (USA) [Werblin – Radyla (Country Pine)] 6yo mare (28/13/4/6/1/1) – She won the Grand Prix Stakes in 2013 and has gone on to become one of the most successful fillies or mares ever to race in Korea. In addition to the Grand Prix, she has won the the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup twice, the KNN Cup and the Ttukseom Cup on the way to earning more than KRW 2 Billion in prize money. After completing a clean sweep of the Queens’ Tour races in 2014, she was expected to retire but returned as a 6-year-old and won her most recent race on May 17. She hasn’t run at such short a distance as 1200M since she was a 2-year-old in 2011. Lim Sung Sil is expected to ride her at Kranji.

Nobody Catch Me (USA) [With Distinction – Nana’s Babe (Allen’s Prospect)] 5yo gelding (20/6/4/2/0/0) – The wildcard. He was the winner of the Busan Mayor’s Cup last year at odds of over 50/1 and added one win after that but was a disappointment – and eventual disqualification – from the Grand Prix Stakes last year. He’s only run twice in 2015 and has struggled. However, he may well appreciate running at a sprint distance once more.

Nobody Catch Me won the 2014 Busan Metropolitan (Newsis)

Nobody Catch Me won the 2014 Busan Metropolitan (Newsis)

Cheon Gu (USA) [Old Fashioned – So Much Fun (Speightstown)] 3yo colt (6/4/1/1/0/0) – The only one of the three to be based at Seoul Racecourse and the only one who still looks yet to reach his full potential, Cheon Gu has won four of his six starts to date. He was beaten in his only Stakes race when second in the Herald Business Cup over 1400M in May but returned to the winner’s circle in a class 2 race at the same distance last week and is considered one of the brightest imported prospects at Seoul. Yoo Seung Wan is expected to ride him in Singapore.

Cheon Gu will carry 54.5kg, Nobody Catch Me 57.5kg and Gamdonguibada 56kg. While the Korean horses had to be nominated by Monday this week, Singapore based horses have until July 15 to enter the race.

The KRA Trophy will come under orders at 17:15 Singapore time and will be shown live at Seoul and Busan Racecourses during the normal raceday broadcast. No betting markets will be offered in Korea – the law needs to change before that can happen – nevertheless, having permission granted for it is a big step in the right direction. The Singapore Turf Club has been a great friend of Korean racing in recent years and it is fitting that Kranji hosts the first race to be beamed back.

The Singapore Turf Club has been a big supporter of the internationalization of Korean racing

The Singapore Turf Club has been a big supporter of the internationalization of Korean racing

The history of Korean-trained horses racing abroad is extremely brief. Watts Village pulled off a remarkable victory in the Interaction Cup in Japan in 2013 but the following year, the three Korean horses who went fared less well. Meanwhile, Singapore trained El Padrino came to Seoul last August and broke the track record for 1400M in the process of winning the Asia Challenge Cup.

While it remains to be seen what kind of line-up Singapore puts out, the horses nominated from Korea have every chance of acquitting themselves well. Whatever happens, it will be an important milestone in the internationalization of Korean racing.