Nobel Pokpung

Smoking Gun Cruises Into Grand Prix Contention

It’s been a really bad couple of months at the top-level of Korean racing. Back in June, last year’s Horse of the Year, Mister Park, fatally broke down in a race at Busan. On the same day Grand Prix champion Tough Win suffered a bleeding attack and was a shadow of his real self when he raced again a month later.

Then Smarty Moonhak, the phenom believed by many to potentially be the best horse we’ve ever had here, was diagnosed with tendonitis. The latter two events were less tragic but it meant that the “troika” who filled the first three places in the Grand Prix and were expected to battle each other for big prizes in Korean racing’s most exciting year ever, was gone.

We’re looking for a star. Dangdae Bulpae, winner of the Busan Metropolitan ahead of what we now know was an injured Smarty Moonhak clearly is one. Fifth that night was a three-year old American import called Smoking Gun (Hat Trick). Tonight he reappeared and absolutely destroyed a class 1 field over ten furlongs.

Smoking Gun is by the Japanese born sire Hat Trick (Sunday Silence) and out of Announce mare Desdemona’s Dream. He won his first four starts, culminating in the Macau Jockey Club Trophy, before finally being beaten on is first try at class 1. Tonight He was eased to a five length victory over Darani (Saarland) with Nobel Pokpung (Didyme), second in the Korean Derby, a further nine lengths back in third.

There’s a long way to go until the Grand Prix but on today’s performance, Smoking Gun will be there. May he stay sound.

Class 1 – Busan Race Park – 2000M – August 19, 2012

1. Smoking Gun (USA) [Hat Trick – Desdemona’s Dream (Announce)] – Choi Si Dae – 2.2, 1.3
2. Darani (USA) [Saarland – Dusty’s Legacy (Golden Missile)] – Jo Chang Wook – 1.6
3. Nobel Pokpung (KOR) [Didyme – Shar Baby (Talinum)] – Chae Gyu Jun – 1.7

Distances: 5 lengths/9 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Seonnyang Yongsa (AUS) 5. Kiwi’s Playboy (USA) 6. Killian’s Tiger (USA) 7. Areumdeuri (USA) 8. Sinheung Hwangje DQ. Pokpung Jilju (USA)

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Schlechter’s Nobel Prize

Nobel Pokpung In Minister’s Cup Frame As Gerrit Schlechter Rides Second Korean Stakes Winner

Nobel Pokpung was a convincing winner of the Gyeongnam Do Min Ilbo Cup at Busan Race PArk this afternoon, to put him firmly among the top contenders for the Minister’s Cup, the final leg of the Korean Triple Crown.

And his win was under a fine ride by South African jockey Gerrit Schlechter, who not only landed his second Korean Stakes race victory but also scored three winners on the day.

Nobel Pokpung and Gerrit Schlecter in the winner’s circle (Pic: Gyeongnam Do Min News)

Sent off as the 3/1 favourite on the back of his second place in the Korean Derby, Nobel Pokpung was kept towards the back for the first half of the 1800 metre race, which featured some of Busan’s best three-year olds.

Schlechter asked him to improve rounding the final turn and although they had to go very wide, Nobel Pokpung was far too strong for any of his rivals. Third favourite Predict under Yukio Abe put in a brief challenge in the final furlong but Nobel Pokpung saw him off comfortably, winning by a length on the line, with 30/1 outsider Sangseung Mode a surprise third.

Disappointment of the race was filly Grand Teukgeup. Sent off as second favourite, she led the field for the first half of the race but disappeared from view as they entered the home straight, finishing back in seventh.

Nobel Pokpung and Gerrit Schlechter make their move entering the home straight (Pic: Gyeongnam Do Min News)

Remarkably this was Nobel Pokpung’s first win of the year and only his fourth overall. However, given a few extra strides, he may have won the Derby and as the distances get bigger, so do his performances. He looks like a colt with plenty more to give and the extra furlong in the Minister’s Cup back at Seoul in the autumn should be ideal for him.

Hopefully Schlechter will still be with him then. With his treble today the South African now has 24 wins since debuting earlier in the year.

Gyeongnam Do Min Ilbo Cup – Busan Race Park – 1800M – July 8, 2012

1. Nobel Pokpung (KOR) [Didyme – Shar Baby (Talinim)] – Gerrit Schlechter – 3.6, 1.6
2. Predict (KOR) [The Groom Is Red – Muhanseungni (Big Sur)] – Yukio Abe – 1.9
3. Sangseung Mode (KOR) [Vicar – Variety Lady (Variety Road)] – Kim Young Min – 6.6

Distances: 1 length/1.5 lengths – 13 ran

Weekend Preview

Gyeongnam Do-Min Ilbo Stakes could offer Classic Clues

A couple of years ago the Korean Meteorological Administration said there was no point in it trying to predict when it’s going to rain during monsoon season as it’s easier to pick a winner in a maiden pony race on Jeju Island. Or words to that effect. That season began in spectacular fashion last Friday night and we lost a day’s racing at Seoul last Saturday as a result.

It shouldn’t look like this at the weekend but don’t bet against it

We should therefore be cautious about the forecast that predicts a bright and sunny weekend. We can but hope though as Busan Race Park on Sunday plays host to what should be an entertaining renewal of the Gyeongnam Do-Min Ilbo Stakes.

Nine three-year olds join four older horses in the 1800 metre test which serves as a trial for the remaining Classics. Grand Teukgeup (Menifee), Joiner Peace (Menifee) and Over Power (Ft. Stockton) are being run with next month’s Korean Oaks in mind while colts Predict (The Groom Is Red), Nobel Pokpung (Didyme), Dream Tower (Forest Camp) are among those looking towards the Minister’s Cup in three months’ time.

Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday July 6

Busan Race Park: 10 races from 12:00 to 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 13:30 to 17:30

Saturday July 7

Seoul Race Park: 12 races from 11:00 to 17:20
Jeju Race Park: 8 races from 12:20 to 16:50

Sunday July 8

Seoul Race Park: 10 races from 11:00 to 17:45
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:15 to 16:45

Jigeum I Sungan Seizes His Moment To Win The Korean Derby

Jigeum I Sungan ended Gyeongbudaero’s Triple Crown bid with a cool one-length win in the 15th Korean Derby at Seoul Race Park this afternoon.

This is their moment: Jigeum I Sungan and Moon Se Young in the Derby winner’s Circle

Sent off fourth in the betting, and ridden by Moon Se Young, Jigeum I Sungan made his move as the field entered the home straight and, while KRA Cup Mile winner and favourite Gyeongbudaero looked menacing on the outside and briefly hit the front with a furlong to go, Jigeum I Sungan was always travelling the better and was superior in the sprint.

Gyeongbudaero was even pipped for second as Nobel Pokpung, seemingly tailed off in the back straight suddenly appeared from nowhere under Japanese jockey Narazaki Kosuke to end up as the winner’s nearest challenger.

Done enough – Nobel Pokpung looms large but Jigeum I Sungan won’t be caught

It was a first Derby victory for jockey Moon Se Young and also for trainer Ji Young Cheol. Thirty-one year old Moon is the runaway leader of this year’s jockey championship and previously won the 2007 Grand Prix Stakes on Bally Brae. He’s married to KRA TV Announcer Kim Ryeo Jin and the couple celebrated with their baby daughter in the winner’s circle. As for Ji, a former jockey and now twenty-five year veteran trainer, although he has saddled Stakes winners before, this was by far the biggest.

Jigeum I Sungan (Ingrandire) finished 5th in the first leg of the Triple Crown, the KRA Cup Mile, last month. Up until then, however, he had been showing consistent improvement with every start. Translated into English, his name means “This Is The Moment” and is taken from the musical “Jekyll & Hyde” (in Korean the “I” in the middle of his name is pronounced as “ee”).

Moon Se Young returns to scale after winning his first Derby

So J.S.Hold remains the sole winner of the Korean Triple Crown for at least another year. Gyeongbudaero gave it a go, but it wasn’t to be today. The surprise of the race was Nobel Pokpung and, while Narazaki Kosuke put in a good ride, it is tempting to speculate on just how close he might have got to the winner had he not been left with so much to do.

Good Time ran to form in fourth but the five fillies were disappointing, Powerful Miss G, the first one home in seventh while Cheoneun, so impressive three weeks ago, was last.

For the second consecutive year, a Seoul horse has won the Derby. However, Busan horses filled out the next three places and when this generation reconvenes for the final leg of the Triple Crown, the Minister’s Cup at Seoul in September, they will surely be back to challenge once more.

For now though, the stage belongs to Jigeum I Sungan. This is his moment. This is his day.

The Korean Derby (KOR.G1) – Seoul Race Park – 1800M – May 20, 2012

1. Jigeum I Sungan (KOR) [Ingrandire – Solmaru (Mujaazif)] – Moon Se Young – 7.6, 1.9
2. Nobel Pokpung (KOR) [Didyme – Shar Baby (Talinum)} – Narazaki Kosuke – 6.1
3. Gyeongbudaero (KOR) [Menifee – Princess Lanique (Cherokee Run)] – Choi Si Dae – 1.3

Winning Owner: Choi Sun Ryoung, Trainer: Ji Young Cheol, Breeder: Kim Sun Sik
Distances: 1 length / Neck
Also Ran: 4. Good Time 5. VIva Cat 6. Mega Tsunami 7. Power Miss G 8. Pillip 9. Grand Teukgeup 10. Dream Tower 11. Jjak Kkung 12. Dolpung Jilju 13. Pico Bout It 14. Cheoneun