New Citadel

New Citadel Beaten On Return / Great King Rules At Busan

New Citadel was sent off as odds-on favourite on his return after six months out with a leg injury, but even though expected main rival Shamrocker was a late scratching, the four-year-old could only manage 3rd as Special Runner ran out the winner of Sunday’s Class 1 feature race at Seoul. The winner was ridden by Johan Victoire, completing a treble on the day for the French jockey.

An American import by With Distinction, New Citadel had won six of eleven prior starts in an injury-disrupted career and got closest to superstar Cheongdam Dokki in the KRA Cup Classic last autumn. His latest setback had seen him out since January, but punters believed he would have little difficulty seeing off a small field over 1800M. He was scarcely a factor though as Special Runner saw off the challenge of Wonder Bolt by half a length with New Citadel a further four-lengths adrift.

It was Special Runner’s first try at class 1 and seventh victory in total. For jockey Johan Victoire, it was a third winner on Sunday having earlier partnered Jungle Beat to victory in race 3 for Australian trainer Simon Foster and also guided filly Ecton Sinhwa to an easy win in race 8.

Victoire wasn’t the only foreign jockey to enjoy a successful weekend with Brazilian pair Antonio Da Silva and Manoel Nunes both among the winners at Seoul while Fergus Sweeney continued his impressive strike-rate at Busan. It wasn’t just foreign riders in the winner’s circle either as Irish trainer Thomas Gillespie’s Great King won Busan’s class 1 Sunday feature. The four-year-old Majestic Warrior colt was sent off as 5/1 chance for the 2000M “Road to Group 1” race and struck the front a furlong out to go on to score by a length and a half from Stealth and favourite Captain Force. It was Great King’s sixth career win and 25th of the year for Gillespie who lies joint 3rd in the Busan Trainers’ Premiership.

While New Citadel was unable to return to form at Seoul, on Friday at Busan there was a successful comeback. Ice Marine won last year’s Oaks trial at Busan and was sent off as favourite for the fillies’ Classic. She only finished 7th of 16 that day, returned lame and didn’t race again for almost an entire year. Having made a nondescript comeback on June 8th, she was rated no better than a 16/1 chance for Friday’s competitive Class 2 feature but, under jockey Song Keong Yun she flashed home late on the outside to pip Taeyangui Sinhwa by a neck on the line. If she can maintain that form, Ice Marine may be an interesting addition to the older filly and mare ranks, a division that isn’t especially strong.

 

This coming weekend, attention turns to the current crop of three-year-old fillies with this year’s Korean Oaks being run at Busan on Sunday.

Advertisements

Choegang Schiller Back Winning, New Citadel Continues To Rise

He was the toast of the nation back in 2015 when he overcame El Padrino to become the first locally-trained winner of the Asia Challenge Cup and on Sunday Choegang Schiller finally returned to the Seoul Racecoure winner’s circle for the first time since that glorious day.

It had been setback after setback for Choegang Schiller since his Challenge Cup win with only five starts to his name since with the best result being 2nd place in the SBS Korea/Japan Cup last June. However, he returned from his latest setback in February with a strong 2nd to Parang Juuibo, who also returned on Sunday and he was sent off as the 2nd favourite for the 1200M feature.

Favourite was Always Winner but the Segye Ilbo Cup and Owners’ Trophy winner was forced to use up too much energy getting to his preferred front position from the outside gate, leaving him with nothing left in the closing stages. That set the race up beautifully for Choegang Schiller, who had been kept handy by apprentice jockey Kim Tea Hun, and he ran on powerfully to score by over two lengths. The fast early pace also benefited Dynamic Jilju and long-shot Holiday Dream who came home 2nd and 3rd, while Brian Dean’s Jangsanjewang, partially responsible for that pace, stayed on for a gutsy 4th.

Choegang Schiller (Artie Schiller), a six-year-old gelding, moved on to 8 wins from just 19 starts. Another go at the SBS Korea/Japan Cup in early June looks the obvious next step.

This time last week, we were getting excited about the performance of King Of Ace. The Busan-based US import moved on to three wins from three starts with an easy class 3 victory over a mile on Good Friday. On Sunday at Seoul, another three-year-old US import put in a performance worthy of note.

Before the race punters fancied that import to be Cheongdam Dokki but in the event, it was New Citadel (With Distinction) who burnished his credentials with a surprisingly dominant class 2 win over 1800M. Cheongdam Dokki had beaten New Citadel when the pair were juveniles last autumn and while the latter had already won at this distance, he was carrying an additional 5.5kg this time. No matter. The pair briefly came together at the top of the straight but from then on, New Citadel was far too good, romping away to win by six-lengths.

The next time we see New Citadel will be at class 1 as his rating was bumped up 13 points as a result. Should connections be feeling ambitious, the Busan Mayor’s Cup ‘would be a sporting, if unlikely target.

One US import who did lose a bit of her luster at the weekend was Haeya. The US-bred filly won four from four up to this January before coming down lame. She returned in Busan’s Sunday feature, up to class 1 for the first time. While she showed on speed for much of the race, ultimately, she would finish 4th as Doraonpogyeongseon (Kantharos) came through late to land his 6th victory on his 12th career start.