Magnifique

Jigeum I Sungan Starts 2013 With Easy Win

Korean Derby winner Jigeum I Sungan (Ingrandire) was a comfortable three-length winner on his season debut at Seoul Race Park on Saturday.

Winning Start to 2013: Jigeum I Sungan

Winning Start to 2013: Jigeum I Sungan

The colt, who won two legs of the Korean Triple Crown in 2012, was sent off at slight odds-on for the 1900 metre feature Handicap.

With regular rider Moon Se Young currently in Macau, the four-year old was partnered by young up-and-comer Seo Seung Un for the first time and it didn’t take the pair long to gel.

Kept in the middle of the pack for much of the race, Jigeum I Sungan still had five horses in front of him as they entered the final furlong. One after another they were picked off as he eased to the front and ultimately won going away from the field. Magnifique (Menifee) was second with Singgereounachim (Exploit) in third.

Despite his double Classic triumph and subsequent Horse of the Year award, today’s win was only Jigeum I Sungan’s 7th from 16 starts. However, throughout last year he got better with every run and the feeling is that the best is still very much to come from him.

On his last start, Jigeum I Sungan was well beaten into 2nd as Dangdae Bulpae strolled to his third consecutive President’s Cup. November is a long way away but stopping Dangdae Bulpae securing a historic fourth win in Korea’s richest race is surely the season goal for Jigeum I Sungan. The preparation has begun well.

Sunday January 20

Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:00 to 18:00
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:50 to 17:00

Cheonun Rains In Owners’ Cup

17/1 outsider Cheonun sprinted past the favourites to land victory in an exciting renewal of the Owners’ Trophy at a rain-lashed Seoul Race Park this afternoon.

Cheonun and Jang Chu Yeol return after success in the Owners' Cup

With almost the whole field still in contention with a furlong to run, it was the 5-year old mare, 2nd in the Korean Oaks in 2010, who swooped wide and late to get the better of pre-race favourite Magnifique (Menifee) and second-favourite Real Victor (Biwa Shinseiki).

It was an 8th career victory for Cheonun (Ft. Stockton) and her third big race triumph, following wins in the 2010 Sports Seoul Cup and 2011 NACF Chairman’s race. This was, however, the first time she had beaten male horses in a Stakes race. She’s only been out of the money once in her 22 outings.

For jockey Jang Chu Yeol, less than two years into his professional riding career, it was a first Stakes victory. The 23-year-old is thought of as one of the best young riding talents in the country and last autumn rode two winners in the United States.

SROA Trophy (KOR.G3) – Seoul Race Park – 1400M – April 22, 2012

1. Cheonun (KOR) [Ft.Stockton-Restless Patricia (Born Restless)] – Jang Chu Yeol – 17.3, 3.5
2. Magnifique (KOR) [Menifee-Miss Beautiful (Miswaki)] – Kim Ok Sung – 1.4
3. Real Victor (KOR) [Biwa Shinseiki-Hyunmo (Real Quiet)] – Jo In Kwen – 1.8

Distances: 0.5 lengths/1.75 lengths – 14 ran

If Cheonun can keep today’s form up, she may even find herself invited to the Grand Prix Stakes at the end of the season. After the Owners’ Trophy was done, last year’s Grand Prix winner, Tough Win (Yonaguska) put in his second appearance of the season. And despite carrying 63.5Kg, it was as routine as his first.

This time, jockey Cho Kyoung Ho opted to drop Tough Win right to the back of the field and, instead of coming round the outside, went right through the middle in the home straight.

Although for a very short time it looked like he may have trouble getting through, his victory was as comfortable as ever and the inevitable rematch between him and Smarty Moonhak is looking ever more enticing.

A rain-lashed Tough Win saunters to victory

In contrast to Seoul, it was a glorious spring day at Busan. Double President’s Cup Dangdae Bulpae (Biwa Shinseiki) recordd a routine win in the afternoon’s feature.

Of the foreign jockeys at Busan, Japanese riders Yukio Abe and Narazaki Kosuke were both on target, but South African Gerrit Schlechter was unable to follow-up on the double he rode on Friday, drawing a blank from 4 rides.

Lion Santa Delivers A Gift To Jeonseong Sidae

Low-Key Closing Day At Seoul And Busan

Just over a week ago, two formidable unbeaten records were intact. Now, as we head into the Christmas break, both are gone. Last week Mister Park saw his unprecedented 17-race winning streak come to a valiant end at the hands of Tough Win in the Grand Prix Stakes. This week a horse who skipped the Grand Prix Lion Santa, was looking to make it a perfect 10 at Busan.

The lights were on as they paraded at Seoul for the last time in 2011

He came unstuck. Maybe because it was the break before an extended break or maybe it was because Nonghyup’s sponsorship had added a few million won to the purse but this handicap attracted a stronger field than usual. Nevertheless, Lion Santa was still sent off as the odds-on favourite. He may have won it too, had he not been left in a poor position rounding the home turn. By the time jockey Kim Dong Young had found a way through, second favourite Jeonseong Sidae was uncatchable. Lion Santa rallied for second but the record was gone.

Australian bred three-year old Jeonseong Sidae (Stromberg Carlson-Jessie’s Journey) is no mug. This was his sixth win from nine starts. As for Lion Santa (Lion Heart-Santa Fe Strip) the future is still bright, but connections may be wishing they’d taken the chance to go out in a blaze of glory at Seoul last week instead of with a whimper at Busan today.

Up at Seoul it was also a quiet closing day. The feature race was won by Magnifique (Menifee-Miss Beauty) who was making his debut at class 1. Kept off the classic trail, Magnifique was a late developer but may well turn to be the best of what has been a disappointing three-year old crop in Korea his year.

So that’s it for racing in 2011. While racing returns to the Korean peninsula on the first weekend of January, there’s an awful lot of news to catch up on before that which we’ll start to do this week.