Tough Night In Tokyo

It was another chastening night in the dirt for Korean runners in Tokyo as Bichui Wangja and Ubaki were unable to make an impact in the 4th running of the Interaction Cup at Ohi Racecourse on Tuesday evening.


The parade ring was about as good as it got (Pic: KRA)

Since Watts Village won the inaugural running of the race in 2013, things haven’t been easy for the Korean contingent in Tokyo each autumn in the same way that it has been tough for the NAR runners who travel to Seoul for the Korean-based leg of the challenge each year.

This time around, Korean hopes took an early blow when Oreuse, the top-rated among the three who travelled, pulled up lame at trackwork on Monday morning and had to be scratched. That left Ubaki and Bichui Wangja flying the flag and Japanese punters sent them off as 8th and 10th in the betting respectively for the 1200M test over Ohi’s right-handed course.

After a long delay while Satono Diplomat was scratched, market-leader Looks That Kill (Wildcat Heir) set the early pace and along with Gaudy (Precious Cafe) put several lengths into the field in the early stages as the Korean pair, having drawn outside gates, struggled to get into the early prominent positions required.

Those two on the early speed would lead all the way but it would be Gaudy, under veteran jockey Fumio Matoba who would get up eight on the line to snatch victory.  Bichui Wangja and Ubaki  trailed home towards the rear of the field.

Gaudy, an 8-year-old horse, was 5th in the betting and was winning for the 9th time on his 58th career start. As for Matoba, the “Emperor of Ohi” was winning a 2nd Japan/Korea race, having claimed the very first one, the 2013 SBS Goodwill Cup at Seoul aboard Tosen Archer. Now pushing 60-years-old, Matoba’s style is not one that gets taught in the world’s jockey academies these but once in full flight, it can be very effective at Ohi.

There’s no disgrace on the ones who went and gave it a go and while the results over the past couple of years have been a touch disappointing, the exchange remains a valuable one, giving trainers and grooms (although this year not jockeys) experience of taking horses overseas to race, something that is vital to the long term development of Korean racing.

The Interaction Cup concludes overseas racing for Korean horses this year. Next up is the Dubai World Cup Carnival in the New Year. Success Story, who did so well at the Carnival last year, won’t be returning but a number of top names have applied for stable allocation.


The SBS Sports Korea/Japan Cup 2016: Full Preview

Sunday sees the running of two group races at Seoul and first up is the SBS Sports Korea/Japan Cup, the first international race in Korea this year. Three Japan-trained horses have traveled over to participate in the race, which will be screened live on the SBS Sports channel.


Choegang Schiller and Lee Chan Ho won the Asia Challenge Cup last year. He goes in the SBS Korea/Japan Cup this time (Pic: Ross Holburt)

The first Korea/Japan race took place in 2013 and was won by the visiting Tosen Archer. The race evolved into the Asia Challenge Cup in 2014 when it was won by Singapore’s El Padrino and remained that way in 2015 when Choegang Schiller, who runs this time around, took the honours. This year it is back as a straight contest between Korea and Japan and Dreadnought, Kimon Avalon and Best Wish, all from the NAR’s Ohi Racecourse in Tokyo, will be flying the Japanese flag in Seoul.

Dreadnought looks to have the best chance among them but all three are going to be up against it in the 1200M sprint. 2012 Grand Prix Stakes, 2015 Busan Mayor’s Cup and 2016 Busan Ilbo Cup winner Gamdonguibada has come back to the capital to lead a very strong home challenge which along with Choegang Schiller, also features the exciting up and comers Perdido Pomeroy and Tongil Sidae and the experienced Mirae Yeongung.

The SBS Sports Korea/Japan Cup is live on SBS Sports on cable and satellite in Korea from 3:50pm on Sunday afternoon. Here is a full run down of the field (Name [Pedigree] Age Sex (Starts/1st/2nd/3rd) Trainer – Jockey:

SBS Sports Korea/Japan Cup (KOR G3) – Seoul Racecourse – 1200M – June 5, 2016 (16:05)

1. Best Wish (JPN) [White Muzzle – Cross My Heart (Special Week)] 7 H (58/3/10/11) K Arayama – Ryuji Tatsushiro
Managed a 2nd place over this distance at Ohi at the beginning of April but only beat a couple home last time out. Not generally a fast starter and he looks to be up against it here.

2. Mirae Yeongung (KOR) [Aragorn – Willing Miss (More Than Ready)] 5 H (24/11/6/0) MG Son – Moon Se Young
He comes in having beaten OS Hwadap and Cheongu when winning over 1400M on April 24th having been 2nd to Clean Up Joy, perhaps Seoul’s best current horse, the time before over this distance. HE comes from off the pace and while regular jockey DJordje Perovic is suspended, he has an adequate replacement in the shape of champion Moon Se Young.

3. Tongil Sidae (USA) [Munnings – American Tradition (Quiet American)] 3 C (7/4/2/0) YK Kim – You Hyun Myung
He’s burst onto the Busan scene this year, winning his class 1 debut over 1800M on April 1. He was downed by a neck last start at the same distance. He races at 1200M for the first time since his winning debut and at Seoul for the very first time. A stablemate of Gamdonguibada, he will be on the early speed here and has every chance.

4. Perdido Pomeroy (USA) [Pomeroy – Boldest Of All (Bold Executive)] 3 C (6/4/1/1) JB Mun – Kim Yong Geun
A real potential talent and potential winner of this race. He was beaten by Gamdonguibada in the Busan Ilbo Cup last month but beat Success Story by three lengths. Another who will be on the early speed here, he could turn the tables on Gamdonguibada this time.

5. OS Hwadap (USA) [Friesian Fire – Meg’s A Lady (Menifee)] 3 C (7/5/0/2) IS Seo – Jo Sung Gon
Another up-and-comer, he was 3rd behind Mirae Yeongung and ahead of stablemate Cheongu on his first attempt at class 1 in April. HE is another who goes forward from the gate and while this is his toughest assignemnt to date, he can find the money.

6. Kimon Avalon (JPN) [South Vigorous – Grand Heat (Special Week)] 7 H (53/9/7/7) K Arayama – Daisuke Mashima
This is jockey Daisuke Mashima’s fourth visit to Seoul but he’s likely to return empty-handed once more. Kimon Avalon comes in following a 2nd place at this distance at Ohi on April 19th but will have to find plenty here if he is to aim for anyting more than the minor money.

7. Cheongu (USA) [Old Fashioned – So Much Fun (Speightstown)] 4 H (13/5/1/4) IS Seo – Yoo Seung Wan
Globe-trotter Cheongu was a slightly disappointing 6th on his return to KOrea from Dubai at the end of April; beaten by Mirae Yeongung and stablemate OS Hwadap. 3rd in last year’s Asia Challenge Cup, if he can get to the front straight out of the gate, anything can happen.

8. Rise And Shout (USA) [Utopia – Ooh Yeah (Dismissed)] 6 H (35/4/6/2) SG Kim – Lee Hyeon Jong
An outsider, he enters in little form having beaten few home in four starts so far this year. Eleven weeks since his last start, when he was a long way behind Mirae Yeongung, there’s not a whole lot to recommend here.

9. Choegang Schiller (USA) [Artie Schiller – Changeable (Miswaki)] 5 G YH Ji – Lee Chan Ho
He won the Asia Challenge Cup last August but has only run twice since then due to various issues. His only tart so far this year was in February at 1800M and didn’t go well (although Mirae Yeongung had an off day too thenbut he is reportedly fit now and a fit Choegang Schiller has every chance here.

10. Yuseong Fighting (KOR) [Didyme – Maggie’s Prayer (Songandaprayer)] 4 C (18/6/3/3) KH Choi – Lim Sung Sil
A pure sprinter, his win record would be much better had he not run so many times at unsuitable distances. Comes in following a 2nd place at this distance at class 2 at Busan, he has plenty to find here but he is capable of the money.

11. Dreadnought (KOR) [Meisho Odo – Bonnes Mare (Starborough)] 8 G (32/7/2/1/4) K Hashimoto – Takayuki Yano
Looks to be the best of the Japanese visitors with a 1400M Ohi win to his name this year. He is likely to look for a fast start and if he can get o the front, there is no reason why he can’t get home.

12. Gamdonguibada (USA) [Werblin – Radyla (Country Pine)] 7 M (34/15/5/7) YK Kim – Choi Si Dae
Likely to be the betting favourite, she just keeps going and going. She enters here having been a five-length winner of the Busan Ilbo Cup on May 1st, beating Perdido Pomeroy into 2nd. Stablemate of Tongil Sidae, the general rule in Korean racing is that whatever happens, Kim Young Kwan wins in the end. Gamdonguibada is the form horse and she can win this.

Cheon Gu 4th As Satono Tiger Wins Ohi Interaction Cup

Urawa-based Satono Tiger was too strong for Cheon Gu and the other Korean raiders as he ensured the honours remained on home soil with a comfortable victory in the Interaction Cup at Ohi last night.

Satono Tiger goes clear (Pic: sanspo.com)

Satono Tiger goes clear (Pic: sanspo.com)

As expected it was Cheon Gu (Old Fashioned) who set the early pace but Satono Tiger (King Kamehameha), a 7-year-old horse who had won seven of his forty-one primarily JRA starts and was top sprinter in the NAR last year, took things up inside the final two furlongs and cruised away for a comfortable victory.

The fast finishing Major Athlete (Daiwa Major) on the outside and Fire Prince (On Fire) on the rail knocked Cheon Gu out of the places in the closing stages with the Seoul trained three-year-old hanging on for 4th. The other two Korea-trained entrants Cowboy Son and Dynamic Jilju finished in 8th and 10th.

See here for race video: https://www.nankankeiba.com/liveon/2015101320120211.do

And a full and comprehensive race report here

Korean Horses Try Hard But Found Wanting In Interaction Cup

There was to be no repeat of Watts Village’s sensational 2013 win for Korea in the latest edition of the Japan/Korea Interaction Cup at Ohi Racecourse in Tokyo on Tuesday night.

Here He Comes and Moon Se Young in the Ohi paddock (Pic: KRA)

Here He Comes and Moon Se Young in the Ohi paddock (Pic: KRA)

Three Korean trained horses made their way to the Japanese capital to take their chances in the 1200M race. However, they were to come up short against a strong line-up of local sprinters, with the race won by the favourite, 6 year-old US-bred Satono Daytona (Tapit).

Here He Comes, ridden by Moon Se Young, came home in 9th, with Parang Juibo in 11th under Kim Ok Sung and Useung Iyagi, who set the early pace under Ikuyasu Kurakane, finishing last of the 13. All horses and riders finished safely and will return to Korea later this week.

Jockey Kim Ok Sung explains what went wrong to the media after Parang Juibo finished 11th (Pic: KRA)

Jockey Kim Ok Sung explains what went wrong to the media after Parang Juibo finished 11th (Pic: KRA)

Regardless of the result, the successful running of the race was another step forward as Korean racing, after decades of isolation, finally starts to establish its presence internationally.

And while it was unquestionably disappointing for Korean racing fans that the best domestic sprinters were not put forward for the trip, especially after the unexpected win last year, sometimes it is the taking part that counts.

With this bilateral race with Japan set to continue, and the successful hosting of the Asia Challenge Cup earlier this year, “Interaction” is finally happening.

Brilliant Watts Village Makes History Winning Japan-Korea Cup In Tokyo

In what was arguably the finest ever race run by a Korean-trained racehorse, Watts Village won the Japan-Korea Interaction Cup at Ohi Racecourse in Tokyo tonight.

Watts Village Conquers Ohi (Pic: keiba.co.jp_)

Watts Village Conquers Ohi (Pic: keiba.co.jp)

After coming so close to winning the first leg of the Korea vs Japan challenge in Seoul back in September, Watts Village made no mistake this time as, under Seo Seung Un, he led from gate-to-wire to record a famous victory in the Japanese capital.

It was a perfectly timed ride from Seo. Watts Village took an early lead and maintained it as his challengers massed behind. In the final furlong they pressed and pressed. The pressure was relentless and they came so close to sweeping by but gamely, gallantly, Watts Village held on.

Miyasan Cutie and Kogyo Douglas came closest to him, finishing an oh-so-close 2nd and 3rd.

Japan-Korea Interaction Cup – Ohi Racecourse – 1200M – November 26, 2013

1. Watts Village (USA) [Forestry – Edey’s Village (Silver Deputy)] – Seo Seung Un
2. Miyasan Cutie (JPN) [Kurofune – Innocent Nymph (Hector Protector)] – Daisuke Mashima
3. Kogyo Douglas (JPN) [Sterling Rose – Amore Pegasus (Mejiro Ryan)] – Takehiro Kashiwagi

Distances: Neck/1 length – 14 ran

In a race that was always to be dictated by early speed, the other Korean challengers Fly Top Queen and Full Moon Party gave what they could but were found wanting. Watts Village nailed it.

A three-year-old colt, Watts Village (Forestry) had, by virtue of his runner-up position to Tosen Archer in Seoul in September, already achieved an official rating of 100.

This qualified him to run in Dubai this winter. Connections had not been sure whether to take the offer up but now, with him already having passed Japanese quarantine, he might just go for it.

Nobody thought it could happen but tonight Korean trained racehorses went to Japan and against all odds – literally – one of them won. Korean horse-racing took a huge step forward tonight.

Japan Vs Korea – The “Interaction Cup” Full Preview

Japan bested Korea in Seoul back in September. Revenge is the name of the game when three Korea-trained horses line up at Ohi on Tuesday night in the “Japan Korea Interaction Cup”.

Fumio Matoba and Tosen Archer in the SBS Korea Vs Japan Cup Winner's Circle at Seoul in September

Fumio Matoba and Tosen Archer in the SBS Korea Vs Japan Cup Winner’s Circle at Seoul in September

While Tosen Archer, winner of that race in Seoul, tries to repeat his victory, Korea is this time represented by unbeaten filly Fly Top Queen, the nation’s most expensive import.

Watts Village, who was turned over in the final strides at Seoul, also takes his chance again while the visiting challenge is completed by top sprinter Full Moon Party.

They will face a home team that is dominated by speed. Indeed it seems that whoever gets to the first corner in front, will have an excellent chance of holding on. The Korea contingent need to make sure that it is them.

Here’s a full run down of the field with Name [Pedigree] Sex Age Home Track (Starts/1/2/3) – Jockey

Japan-Korea Interaction Cup – Ohi Racecourse – 1200M – November 26, 2013 – 20:15

1. Miyasan Cutie (JPN) [Kurofune – Innocent Nymph (Hector Protector)] M 5 Ohi (18/9/2/0) – Daisuke Mashima
Good figures but has only run 4 times this year and not since August. Is likely to be close to favourite but will need to run to her best to win.

2. Full Moon Party (KOR) [Vicar – Platinum Wildcat (Forest Wildcat)] F 4 Seoul (17/7/0/3) – Jo In Kwen
The only Korean-bred entry among the Korea raiders, she’s also the least fancied although she beat a host of big names in the TJK Trophy in August. Needs to get to the first corner first; if she does, anything can happen – if she doesn’t she’ll be well-beaten.

3. Saint March (JPN) [Durandal – Art Roman (Russian Roubles)] H 5 Ohi (23/7/9/3) – Norifumi Mikamoto
3 wins from 5 starts this year and looks like he will like the drop back to 6 furlongs. In form and a real chance.

4. Fly Top Queen (USA) [Henny Hughes – Cape Discovery (Cape Town)] F 3 Seoul (4/4/0/0) – Park Tae Jong
She’s Korea’s most expensive ever import and she’s never been beaten but so far she’s yet to face very much at all. Has travelled well and is said to be relishing the chance to run clockwise at Ohi. Most observers (including this one) are convinced she would have won the 1st leg in Seoul had she run. If she leads into the home straight, she wins.

5. Breeze Flavor (JPN) [Forty Niner – Memorable Green (Night Shift)] H 6 Urawa (27/10/3/0) – Kenichi Shigeta
While almost all of his wins have come oveer this distance, he’s been in dreadful form this year. No reason to think that will change here.

6. Watts Village (USA) [Forestry – Edey’s Village (Silver Deputy)] C 3 Seoul (12/6/2/1) – Seo Seung Un
Second to Tosen Archer in Seoul, he has every chance of beating him here – the only trouble is that Tosen Archer probably won’t be winning either. Like so many in this race, if he gets a good run early, he has a chance. If he doesn’t, he will fade.

7. Gaudy (JPN) [Precious Cafe – x (Sumano Daido)] H 5 Ohi (27/6/7/5) – Ryo Akamine
His dam’s name might not appear in the Studbook but he certainly has some speed. Again, he needs to be at the front early to show.

8. Adolescence (JPN) [Falbrav – Spring a Mine (Taysu Tsuyoshi)] H 6 Ohi (62/3/4/10) – Narazaki Kousuke
His jockey rode successfully at Busan for a year. He’s not got much chance of being successful here as Adolescence falls very much into the category of “old stager”. He’ll not be embarrassed but he’ll not be competing for the win either.

9. Final Score (JPN) [Fusaichi Pegasus – Final Destination (O’Reilly)] H 8 Ohi (41/6/7/4) – Takayuki Yano
He ran in the 1st leg at Seoul and finished 6th. It would be a surprise if he finished any higher here.

10. Kogyo Douglas (JPN) [Sterling Rose – Amore Pegasus (Mejiro Ryan)] H 6 Ohi (23/10/5/1) – Takihiro Kashiwagi
A horse who is always there or thereabouts and could be again. Without a win in almost 2 years but he always goes close. Tough to recommend him to win but he’ll not be going home without some money.

11. Tosen Archer (JPN) [Barathea – Interruption (Zafonic)] (48/5/2/5) H 9 Ohi – Fumio Matoba
He won the 1st leg in Seoul due to an inspired ride by 57-year-old jockey Fumio Matoba. It won’t happen here. Ohi’s track doesn’t lend itself to closers in the way that Seoul’s does and the rest of the field will be wise to him. Must be given respect though.

12. Auxerrois (USA) [Awesome Again – Sixtyone Margaux (Cozzene)] G 7 Funabashi (31/5/4/3) – Taito Mori
A physically very impressive specimen, Auxerrois is without a win or a place since January 2012 and his recent form suggest he will not be in contention.

13. Murakan Panther (JPN) [Admire Max – Spring Diana (Merry Nice)] F 4 Kawasaki (20/5/9/1) – Hironori Sato
Won three races in a row at Ohi this summer and must be in with a chance. Was only 6th last time out but with a drop to 6 furlomgs, he could bounce back.

14. Yasaka Fine (JPN) [Black Tuxedo – Nobo Mama (Nihon Pillow Winner)] H 7 Ohi (38/8/8/3) – Jun Aritoshi
Difficult to recommend a horse that hasn’t won since 2010 so we’ll not be doing that here. Yasaka Fine has put in some creditable performances recently but will not be coming close in this one.

Plenty of information on the race from the excellent Japan Racing News

On race day, live video can be viewed here. click “ライブ映像”

Thanks to uk_maniax for translations.

Fly Top Queen, Watts Village, Full Moon Party Settle In At Ohi

After spending a week at a quarantine facility 200km north of the Japanese capital, Fly Top Queen, Watts Village and Full Moon Party have finally arrived at Ohi Racecourse in Tokyo.

Morning trackwork at Ohi (Pic: Ryu Seung Ho/KRA)

Morning trackwork at Ohi (Pic: Ryu Seung Ho/KRA)

The trio have made the trip across the East Sea to take part in the 2nd leg of the Korea vs Japan Challenge at Ohi next Tuesday evening.

Watts Village in his new box at Ohi (Pic: Ryu Seung Ho/KRA)

Watts Village in his new box at Ohi (Pic: Ryu Seung Ho/KRA)

We’ll have a full preview of the race next Monday. In the meantime, check out our Facebook page for more pictures.

Fly Top Queen, Watts Village, Full Moon Party To Represent Korea In Japan

Fly Top Queen, unbeaten in all of her 4 lifetime starts, heads the line-up Korean-trained horses who will go to Tokyo next month to compete in the 2nd-leg of the Korea Vs Japan Challenge. The race will be held at Tokyo-Ohi Racecourse on November 26.

Fumio Matoba and Tosen Archer in the SBS Korea Vs Japan Cup Winner's Circle at Seoul in September

Fumio Matoba and Tosen Archer in the SBS Korea Vs Japan Cup Winner’s Circle at Seoul in September

The first leg was won by Japanese raider Tosen Archer at Seoul Race Park on September 1. The Ohi race will be run over 1200 metres.

The undefeated Fly Top Queen (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Fly Top Queen (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Fly Top Queen (USA) [Henny Hughes – Cape Discovery (Cape Town)]

The 3-year-old filly was the most expensive racehorse ever imported into Korea when she arrived in mid-2012.

However, after suffering setback after setback, it took her over a year to reach the racecourse. She’s been worth the wait with all of her 4 victories coming in crushing style and all over the 1200 metre distance she will compete in here.

She’ll get her first proper test at Ohi. If she is good as she promises to be, she may very well come through it. 4 Runs 4 Wins

Watts Village

Watts Village

Watts Village (USA) [Forestry – Edey’s Village (Silver Deputy)]

A 3-year-old colt who was 2nd to Tosen Archer in the 1st leg at Seoul last month.

In doing so, he earned an official rating of 100 from the Singapore Turf Club handicapper who rated the race.

This ensured an invitation to the Dubai Carnival which remains an option (albeit unlikely). Many in Korea felt the rating to be slightly on the high side for a horse who had just finished 2nd to a 9-year-old Japanese sprinter (you’ll not see Tosen Archer in Dubai) but Watts Village is a talented competitor who could surprise again. 12 Runs 6 Wins 2 Seconds 1 Third

Trainer Lee Shin Young with Full Moon Party in the TJK Winner's Circle (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Full Moon Party(Pic: Ross Holburt)

Full Moon Party (KOR) [Vicar – Platinum Wildcat (Forest Wildcat)]

Set to be the only Korean-bred horse to take part in either “Korea Vs Japan” race, the 4-year old filly got her first Stakes win in the Turkey Jockey Club Cup in August but was very disappointing on her class 1 debut earlier this month.

That was over a much longer distance but while she’ll appreciate the sprint, she’ll still be very much the outsider. (17 Runs 7 wins 0 Seconds 3 Thirds 3)

With Ohi, located between Haneda Airport and downtown Tokyo, racing on dirt as opposed to the Korean style sand and, moreover, running clockwise, the home-team will be favourite to complete a double over Korea. However, don’t rule out an upset.

We’ll have plenty more on the build-up to the big race over the next month.

Japan’s Narazaki Kosuke Checks Out Of Korea

Narazaki Kosuke has returned to Japan. The 31-year old jockey had his last rides in Korea over the weekend, finishing 2nd on his final mount in Sunday’s feature race at Busan.

Going home: Narazaki Kosuke

Going home: Narazaki Kosuke

Kosuke is returning in order to ride at the final meeting of his former home track of Fujiyama in Hiroshima which is closing. Kosuke will then relocate full-time to Ohi Racecourse in Tokyo.

During his just over one year at Busan, Kosuke rode 68 winners from 505 rides and had a quinella strike-rate of 25%. He finished 5th in the Busan Jockey Championship last year and was lying in 2nd this.

Although he didn’t win any Stakes races, he did partner Nobel Pokpung to 2nd place in the 2012 Korean Derby at Seoul Race Park and won numerous class 1 events at Busan. Among foreign jockeys, only his fellow Japanese rider Toshio Uchida and Australian Gary Baker have ridden more winners in Korea.

Kosuke’s departure leaves Joe Fujii and Darryll Holland as the only 2 foreign jockeys at Busan although another newcomer is expected to start from April. Yukio Abe remains the only foreign jockey at Seoul although a license has been issued for another to start soon.