Main Stay

Curtain Closes On Landmark Dubai Carnival

Had we been told before the 2017 Godolphin Mile that Triple Nine would ultimately finish just one place behind pre-race favourite North America, we may have been very excited. Well that’s what ultimately happened. That North America weakened to finish at the back of the main group with Triple Nine, for whom it proved a race too far, many lengths further adrift, might have been disappointing but does nothing to detract from what was a wonderful Carnival from a Korean perspective.

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Triple Nine at the Godolphin Mile (Screengrab from Dubai Racing TV)

Naturally, there are a bucket load of excuses that could be put forward for why Triple Nine didn’t do himself anything like justice (wrong trip, bad draw, muddy track of the type he lost to Beolmaui Kkum on last year, tired after a long campaign and so on and so forth) but it doesn’t really matter. It’s racing. It happens.

As it was, the closest Triple Nine came to a win ay Meydan was his first appearance on January 19th, when he closed strongly but just a little late to run 2nd to Hunting Ground over 2000M. The gutsy Triple Crown winner Power Blade landed consecutive 3rd places over a mile and 1900M before the pair of them both ran 5th in their respective Group races on Super Saturday.

Then, of course, there was Main Stay. He and Seoul Bullet both lined up for the 1200M Dirt Handicap on January 19th and for the first time there was real pressure not only to perform well but to actually win the race. As Dubai Racing TV pointed out as the horses came out onto the track “this race really is the Koreans’ to lose”. Seoul Bullet was slow out of the gate but ran on for 4th but Main Stay made no mistake. The race was won with a furlong to go and Terry Spargo’s “Chalk one up for Korea” call has been played at Seoul & Busan Racecourses every week since.

Seoul Bullet would pull up lame and play no further part in the Carnival as indeed would Main Stay after his second run three weeks later.

While Main Stay gets to go down in the history books, arguably the most significant result was that achieved by Diferent Dimension when he defied odds of 33/1 to come 3rd over a mile on turf on February 11th.

It was the first time for a Korean horse to run on turf at the Carnival and the race was well received back home not only because of the result but also for the way the horses ran tightly together as opposed to the wide margins on dirt. Plans are at an advanced stage for a turf track to be installed alongside the sand one at Seoul Racecourse and if the project is to be successful,  a substantial shift in mindset among horsemen in Korea in going ot be required. Actual proof that a Korea-trained (albeit by an Australian) horse can run well on turf is surely the best way to start that process.

Korea’s runners at this year’s Carnival were made possible by the performance of Success Story last year, his pair of 3rd places giving courage to owners and trainers. The unique nature of the Carnival also makes it ideal for a nation wishing to develop its racing, such as Korea. The horses get to spend a number of months in Dubai as do the grooms and workriders. They get to work alongside local grooms and riders and train alongside horses from all over the world providing an opportunity both to observe and to learn. Top international jockeys ride the horses – this year Ireland’s Pat Cosgrave handled the bulk of riding duties of the Korean string and a fine job he did too, both in work and in the races; his exhausting ride in Power Blade’s second outing standing out.

That regular Carnival races are competitive but not overwhelming also gives encouragement. The most exciting thing now is to see who emerges as a contender to make the trip in 2018.

Korea’s results at the 2017 Dubai World Cup Carnival:

Triple Nine
1/19: 2000M (Dirt) – 2nd
2/9: 2000M (Dirt) – 4th
3/4: 2000M (Dirt – G1) – 5th
3/25: 1600M Godolphin Mile (Dirt – G2) – 11th

Power Blade
1/12: 1600M (Dirt) – 3rd
2/2: 1900M (Dirt) – 3rd
3/4: 1600M (Dirt – G3) – 5th

Main Stay
1/19: 1200M (Dirt) – 1st
2/11: 1200M (Dirt) – 4th

Diferent Dimension
1/12: 1600M (Dirt) – 7th
2/11: 1600M (Turf) – 3rd
2/16: 1600M (Dirt) – 7th

Seoul Bullet
1/19: 1200M (Dirt) – 4th

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Triple Nine, Main Stay & Diferent Dimension Run At Meydan This Week

The 2017 Dubai World Cup Carnival is starting to head towards its business end and following Power Blade’s 3rd place in the G2 Al Maktoum Challenge last Thursday, three of the other Korea-trained horses, Triple Nine, Main Stay and Diferent Dimension will line up this week. Triple Nine races on Thursday while Main Stay and Diferent Dimension will go on Saturday.

Triple Nine ran on very nicely for 2nd on his Meydan debut last month and he is likely to be one of the favourites for his race, a 2000M Dirt Handicap which is race 3 on Thursday’s card. There are plenty of dangers though. Mizbah beat Hunting Ground, who himself beat Triple Nine last start, by no fewer than seven and a half lengths on January 5. While he carries an additional 5.5kg on Thursday, he is sure to be dangerous. Godolphin’s Emotionless was a highly thought-of juvenile in the UK in 2015 but only raced twice as a three-year-old. He was 6th on his Meydan debut in the first leg of the Al Maktoum Challenge at a mile and may well have come on for it. Click here for Race Card.

On Saturday Main Stay, who is already a winner at this year’s Carnival, makes his re-appearance. He faces a much tougher assignment this time around though as he takes on two Hong Kong raiders in the shape of Dundonnell and, especially Fabulous One as they begin their preparations for Super Saturday and World Cup Night. The rest of the field offers little to write home about although the Godolphin pair of Comicas and Acolyte, the latter a non-Carnival turf winner at the distance in January may be dangerous while the Sweden-trained duo of Breakdancer and Saving Kenny are unknown quantities. The start is going to be important and attempting to live with the two Sha Tin horses will be the target. Click here for Race Card.

Diferent Dimension is going to do things differently in that he’s going to become the first Korea-trained horse at the Carnival to run on the Turf. He goes in the ultra-competitive Mile handicap. The Peter Wolsley trainee has reportedly taken well to the surface and does have a good draw. He has the toughest ask of all the Korea-trained horses though and a competitive showing will be the goal against a group of horses with some very solid European form amongst them. Click here for Race Card.

In other Dubai news, the Dubai Racing Club has released initial World Cup Day nominations. This nomination stage is free and accordingly, all five of the Korean horses at the Carnival have been nominated for various races, something the Dubai Racing Club noted in their accompanying notes. It remains extremely unlikely that any of them will get into any of the races, however, with a run for one or more of them on Super Saturday considered to be the more realistic goal.

Power Blade Set For Stiff Meydan Test

Power Blade will need to be at his best as he faces a stern examination in the Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge in the Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan this Thursday night.

The 2016 Korean Triple Crown winner was an encouraging 3rd on his Dubai debut three weeks ago but steps up in both distance and in opposition for this week’s 1900M test. It’s the 2nd leg of the Al Maktoum Challenge and the top four place-getters from the first leg, run over a mile on the Carnival’s opening day on January 5th, all return.

The winner that day was Le Bernadin and the 8-year-old is set to be favourite here. Long River, Lindo Amor and Gold City ran 2nd to 4th and all three try their luck again. Fitzgerald ran poorly that day but prior to that won back to back non-Carnival races at Meydan while Second Summer is a Graded Stakes winner in the USA. Storm Belt showed little in his Carnival race three weeks ago but is a Meydan winner while Chile bred Furia Cruzada makes her Dubai debut but has solid form in Europe.

Despite being some way behind the winner and runner-up on January 12, Power Blade ran on very nicely for 3rd and hopes are high that he will at least be competitive once more as he becomes the first Korea-trained horse to compete at Group level at the Carnival. With the pattern of races on the deep Seoul and Busan sand being different to that on the Meydan dirt, the horses have taken some time to adapt and have tended to lose a bit of ground in the middle parts of the races, but with Pat Cosgrave, who has partnered most of the Korean runners so far this Carnival in the saddle once more, this can be overcome.

It’s now two weeks since Main Stay scored the breakthrough that Korea had been waiting for, comfortably landing a 1200M handicap. It wasn’t a strong race but crucially it was the first time a Korean horse was actually expected to win and with the pressure on, he delivered. It was a huge relief for all concerned and that hugely enjoyable evening – on which Triple Nine also ran a big race in 2nd over 2000M – helped to finally put to rest some nagging doubts, especially at home, as to whether horses from Korea really belonged at the Carnival. Now we know they do, if Power Blade runs to his best, another placed finish isn’t out of the question.

Seoul Bullet, 4th in Main Stay’s race, is recovering from a slight injury but the the other three Korea-trained horses are all likely to race over the next couple of weeks. Peter Wolsley’s Diferent Dimension, who ran well but weakened late on behind Power Blade on January 12 is expected to try his luck on turf while Main Stay and Triple Nine will return to the dirt within the next two weeks.

Power Blade runs in race 5, the Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge R2 at 20:50 Dubai time on Thursday evening. Click here for the full race card.

Triple Nine, Seoul Bullet & Main Stay All Go At Meydan Thursday

It was Power Blade and Diferent Dimension last week, this time it’s the turn of rest of the Korean stable at the 2017 Dubai World Cup Carnival to make their Meydan debuts. Triple Nine, Seoul Bullet and Main Stay will all run at the Carnival meeting on Thursday evening (early Friday in Korea).

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Triple Nine is among the Korea contingent going at Meydan Thursday night (Pic: Alex Cairns/The Winning Post)

Triple Nine will take part in the 2000M race 4 while Main Stay and Seoul Bullet will try their luck at 1200M in race 6. Pat Cosgrave, who rode Power Blade to 3rd place last week, partners both Triple Nine and Main Stay while Tadhg O’Shea will ride Seoul Bullet.

Race 4 (20:15): Meydan Sobha – 2000M Handicap – USD 125,000

 

As it was for Power Blade last week, Triple Nine’s race looks very competitive. The trouble is that as joint top-rated, he will be carrying 60kg which is 1.5kg more than he has ever carried in an actual race and 3kg heavier than he has won at in Korea. Nevertheless, Triple Nine remains a best-priced 5/1 2nd-favorite with most odds-makers. Favourite with those same odds-makers is Godolphin’s Fog Of War who hasn’t raced since September 2015 but there’s little to choose between a whole host of them. Munaaser won this race last year but doesn’t enter in tremendous form. The Mikael Barzalona ridden Hunting Ground is sure to be well backed as is Doug Watson’s Etijaah.

Race 6 (21:25): District One – 1200M Handicap – USD 125,000

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Race 6 is a similarly tricky puzzle. Both Korea-trained horses carry light weights in what doesn’t look a very intimidating field. Main Stay defeated Seoul Bullet over 1400M at Busan last month although the latter did stumble coming out of the gate. The Sweden-trained Giftorm is currently favourite having performed creditably at Meydan last year and winning a Swedish G3 in the Spring. The rest don’t appear to have a lot of solid recent form to go on although Shaishee, Indianapolis and Spirit Quartz have all recorded decent times, if not finishes, so at the strong risk of tempting fate, if there is a solid pace, the Korean-pair have a chance.

For those watching from Korea, it will be a late night with race 4 set for 1:15am Seoul time and race 6 coming under orders at 2.25am.

Dubai World Cup Carnival 2017: Korea’s Contenders At Meydan

Five Korea-trained horses arrived at Meydan on Christmas Eve to begin preparations for their campaigns at the 2017 Dubai World Cup Carnival. Horse Of The Year Triple Nine and Triple Crown winner Power Blade have been joined on the trip by Diferent Dimension, Seoul Bullet and Main Stay. They will be hoping to emulate the feats achieved by Success Story, who managed two 3rd placed finishes at the 2016 Carnival. 

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Horse Of The Year Triple Nine leads the Korean contingent in Dubai (Pic: Alex Cairns/TheWinningPost)

Diferent Dimension (USA) [Into Mischief – Pardon My Sarong (Souvenir Copy)] 4-year-old Gelding
Breeder: Larkspur Thoroughbreds (Kentucky), Owner: Mun Kyung Sook, Trainer: Peter M. Wolsley
Race Records: 15(9/2/2)
The only US bred among the Korean contingent. It’s not a spelling mistake, he’s named after a lyric in a Katy Perry song (or something like that, I’m told) and was a $30,000 purchase from OBS in April 2014 (having previously gone through Keeneland as a yearling). He’s won at distances up to 1800M but could go further. He was 3rd last month at 2200M but was giving 7kg to the pair who beat him and should be fresh having not been able to get a run in the Grand Prix. He’s saddled by Australian trainer Peter Wolsley.

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Diferent Dimension (Pic: Seungho Ryu)

Triple Nine (KOR) [Ecton Park – A Little Poke (Pleasant Tap)] 4-year-old Colt
Breeder: Isidore Farm (Korea), Owner: Choi Byeong Bu, Trainer: Kim Young Kwan
Race Records: 20(11/7/1)
As a three-year-old, he was 2nd in both of the final two-legs of the Triple Crown before asserting his talent with victory in the Presidents Cup. He’s now a two-time winner of that race having successfully defended his title this autumn and accordingly, Triple Nine was this past weekend crowned Horse Of The Year in Korea for 2016. He finished 3rd in the Korea Cup and 2nd in the Grand Prix Stakes and has comfortably defeated Power Blade on three consecutive occasions.

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Triple Nine arrives (Pic: Seungho Ryu)

Power Blade (KOR) [Menifee – Cheonmacheong (Lost Mountain)] 3-year-old Colt
Breeder: Kim Jung Du (Korea), Owner: Kim Hyeong Ran. Trainer: Kim Young Kwan
Race Records: 13(8/3/1)
He was the Champion Juvenile of 2015 he then dominated the three-year-old division in 2016, comfortably winning all three legs of the Korean Triple Crown. He has gone on to show his class against older horses with 4th place in the Korea Cup, 2nd in the President’s Cup and 3rd in the Grand Prix, the latter over 2300M. Triple Nine has finished ahead of him in all three of those races. In the middle of those races, he dropped down to 1400M to beat Seoul Bullet in a valuable race at Busan.

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A blurry Power Blade on the Meydan track (Pic: Seungho Ryu)

Main Stay (KOR) [Tale Of The Cat – No Bull Baby (Indian Charlie)] 3-year-old Gelding
Breeder: Nokwon Farm (Korea), Owner: SH. Baek, Trainer: Kim Young Kwan
Race Records: 16(9/3/0)
Classed as a Korean bred as he was imported in-utero when his dam was purchased for $32,000 at the 2012 Keeneland November Breeding Stock sale. As such he wasnt eligible for the three-year-old Classic races but has gone on to establish himself as one of the top sprinters in Korea with four wins from his last five starts. He is yet to run in Stakes company but has run and won at distances of up to a mile. Comes in having beaten Seoul Bullet narrowly over 1400M in December.

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Main Stay arrives (Pic: Seungho Ryu)

Seoul Bullet (KOR) [Peace Rules – Wild Guess (Wld Rush)] 5-year-old Gelding
Breeder: Kim Chae Hyung (Korea). Owner: Cho Tae Man, Trainer: Kim Young Kwan
Race Records: KOR: 10(7/2/0) USA: 4(0/0/1)
He’s had an interesting career having spent the first year of it in the United States where he ran four times for one 3rd place in Florida and even managed to get claimed out of a race at Gulfstream. He was claimed back and returned to Korea where he promptly won his first six starts. He was then sidelined for fifteen months before finally returning to action this summer. He pushed Power Blade all the way over 1400M in October before winning a class 1 race at the same distance very handily. Narrowly defeated by Main Stay last time out.

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Seoul Bullet strolls at Meydan (Pic: Seungho Ryu)