Rafale

Triple Crown 2015: Rafale Roars To KRA Cup Mile Glory

If we are to have a Triple Crown winner this year, it will be a colt by the name of Rafale. The co-favourite took out the first jewel, the KRA Cup Mile at Busan Racecourse this afternoon, getting the best of a keenly fought stretch duel with Doraon Hyeonpyo.

If ever there was going to be a race in which it was hard to look past the favourites, this was it with several of the field, including the two visitors from Seoul, never looking likely to be able to handle what was sure to be a quick pace. So it proved.

Yuseong Fighting and the other co-favourite, Doraon Hyeonpyo would set the early pace and were joined briefly at the front by Summit Myeongun. Rafale, however, was in close attendance and while others would challenge, by the furlong pole it was clear that it would be the two market leaders who would battle it out.

With Rafale on the rail and Doraon Hyeonpyo in the center of the track, it was Rafale, urged on by jockey You Hyun Myung, who took the spoils by half a length. Behind them Yeongcheon Ace just edged out the fast finishing Yeonggwanguitaepung for 3rd. Both must be under consideration for the Derby.

Behind them, it was carnage, with gaps of 4, 5, 7 and 10 lengths among the distances separating the rest of the field. The leaders truly outclassed the rest.

For trainer Kim Jae Sub, it was his second KRA Cup Mile in three years following Sting Ray’s victory in 2013. Jockey You Hyun Myung was riding his first Classic winner and the second biggest win of his career following Mister Park in the 2010 Grand Prix Stakes.

As for Doraon Hyeonpyo, Rafale remains the only horse to have beaten him. Indeed, Rafale now leads 2-1 in their head to heads having previously triumphed in the Gyeongnam Sinmun Cup last October. However, it was Doraon Hyeonpyo who came out on top when they met in the Breeders’ Cup in Seoul. When they reconvene in the capital for the Korean Derby six weeks today, will it become 2-2?

KRA Cup Mile (KOR G2) – Busan Racecourse – 1600M – April 5, 2015

1. Rafale (KOR) [Colors Flying – Dongbang Choego (Al Naba)] – You Hyun Myung
2. Doraon Hyeonpyo (KOR) [Colors Flying – Kilcoe Castle (Gone West)] – Kim Dong Young
3. Yeongcheon Ace (KOR) [Menifee – Dixie Avenger (Dixie Union)] – Choi Si Dae
Distances: 0.5 lengths / 2 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Yeonggwanguitaepung (KOR) 5. Summit Myeongun (KOR) 6. Yuseong Fighting (KOR) 7. Special Line (KOR) 8. Mac And Cheese (KOR) 9. Haetbinna (KOR) 10. Namhae Sinhwa (KOR) 11. Lion Star (KOR)

Only one horse has gone on to win the Derby after winning the Cup Mile; that was the filly Sangseung Ilro in 2009. We’ll reconvene at Seoul on May 16 to find out if Rafale can join her.

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Rafale Downed As Goliath Marine Wins Again At Busan

Highly rated 3-year-old Rafale slumped to defeat as trainer Peter Wolsley and jockey Jo Sung Gon cleaned-up at Busan on Friday.

While he was always going to be favourite, Rafale (Colors Flying) was sent off at impossibly short-odds for the 1900M class 2 handicap and while he looked well-placed entering the home straight, it was second-favourite Goliath Marine (Volponi) who sprinted away from the field to claim his 3rd win from his last 4 starts. Rafale, who was 2nd in last year’s Seoul Breeders’ Cup and was an easy winner when tried around two-turns for the first time in January, came home 4th.

Goliath Marine was the 4th winner of the day for Australian trainer Peter Wolsley, who returns to the tope of the trainer’s championship as a result. Earlier, he’d sent out Happy Hana (Biwa Shinseiki) to win race 5 and Choedae Gangja (Didyme) to win race 6 before his up and coming import Different Dimension (Into Mischief) landed a 3rd win in 3 career starts in race 10.

Lee Hee Cheon rode Choedae Gangja but the other three were all ridden by Jo Sung Gon and Jo would also get four winners on the day with a perfectly timed ride on Morning Hwiparam (Everydayissaturday) in race 8. Jo showed his quality in the saddle by bringing the gelding from last to first through a crowd of horses in the home straight, stealing victory on the line by the narrowest of noses.

Wolsley wasn’t the only foreign connection at Busan among the winners yesterday. Nozomu Tomizawa rode favourite Daejiui Jilju (Admire Don) to victory in race 3 while his fellow Japanese rider Masa Tanaka scored in race 7 on Triple Nine (Ecton Park). From the Kim Young Kwan stable, Triple Nine has now won three of his four starts to date.

Racing returns to Busan on Sunday when Success Story, Ghost Whisper, Cheonji Bulpae and Gumpo Sky all feature in the main handicap.

Round-Up: Beolmaui Kkum, Success Story, Rafale Impressive Winners / Japanese Riders Going Strong / Opposition To KRA’s Race Plan

While Seoul’s top horse, Wonder Bolt, was scratched from what was supposed to be his 2015 debut in the capital on Sunday, down at Busan there were some strong performances last weekend.

Beolmaui Kkum was a winner on Sunday (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Beolmaui Kkum was a winner on Sunday (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Beolmaui Kkum (Put It Back), who for the second year running, couldn’t quite get it done in the Season-ending Grand Prix Stakes a month ago, returned to Busan and returned to the winner’s enclosure on Sunday afternoon. The 5-year-old carried top weight of 60kg for the 1900M Class 1 race, a full 8kg more than the other nine runners, but that didn’t stop him leading from gate-to-wire, running on for a two length victory, his 12th from 18th career starts.

Another who disappointed on his visits to Seoul last year was Success Story. A late arrival on the Triple Crown trail, he was 4th in the Minister’s Cup and last October and then a disappointing 10th in the President’s Cup a month later. Both those races were run over 2000M but on his return to Busan in December, he blitzed a class 2 field by a full seventeen lengths at 1400M. On Friday, Success Story (Peace Rules) was stepped up to a mile on what was his first try at a class 1 handicap.

And the results were impressive. Jockey Jo Sung Gon took the 4-year-old to the front right out of the gate and the pair stayed there for a very easy 8-length win. Success Story is going to be one to watch out for this year, possibly, with his sprinting credentials as they are, for such event as the Asia Challenge Cup.

There was also interest at Busan last Friday for this year’s Triple Crown. Rafale (Colors Flying), 2nd in the Breeders’ Cup race at Seoul at the end of November, made his own 2015 debut and his first attempt on the Derby distance of 1800M. It was a successful one with the colt streaking away for a 7-length win on the line. Rafale joins Doraon Hyeonpyo at Busan and Cosmos King at Seoul as having made very impressive first tries around two-turns and this year’s 3-year-old crop looks to be shaping up very nicely ahead of the first leg of the Crown, the KRA Cup Mile at Busan on April 5.

In other news, the Japanese jockey contingent continues to go strong. Ikuyasu Kurakane looks set to ride winners right until the bitter end at Seoul. The 2014 Jockey of the Year rode another two on Sunday. At Busan, Joe Fujii continues to be his consistent self, guiding 4/1 chance Battle Master to victory on Sunday while Masa Tanaka’s strong start to the year shows no signs of abating.

Tanaka ride two more winners across the weekend, first on Nobel Shinhwa (Ecton Park) on Friday and then on Sunday on Triple Nine (Ecton Park). The latter was a 5-length win on a favourite for Busan’s top trainer Kim Young Kwan. Even though he managed to pick up a ban as well, that kind of result bodes extremely well for Tanaka. He lies in 5th in the Jockey Championship with 5 winners from 23 mounts, just behind Fujii who is in 3rd with 6 from 33.

On the political front, the Korea Racing Authority’s new race plan for 2015, which has embraced a new rating system, a revamped Stakes calendar and permission for foreign ownership of racehorses, is being resisted by a coalition of breeders, owners and trainers. While such a disparate group is never, within itself, going to have the same priorities, one thing they do appear to agree on was that they were not consulted in the way they would have liked. There are interesting times ahead in the next few weeks

Cosmos King, Rafale Take Juvenile Honours At Seoul & Busan

It was 2-year-old Championship weekend at Seoul and Busan and it will be Cosmos King and Rafale who head to the Korean Breeders’ Cup at Seoul next month as the top juveniles from their respective tracks.

Gwacheon Mayor’s Cup – Seoul Racecourse – 1200M – Oct 11, 2014

1. Cosmos King (KOR) [Ingrandire – Lovely Shine (French Deputy)] – Lee Hyeok – 2.4, 1.3
2. Dream Queen (KOR) [Creek Cat – Fine Jilju (Duality)] – Seo Seung Un – 1.6
3. Keunbada (KOR) [Menifee – Keungori (Essence Of Dubai)] – Jang Chuyoul – 1.9
Distances: 1 length / 2 lengths – 10 ran

Cosmos King was sent off as the slight favourite for the Gwacheon Mayor’s Cup at Seoul on Saturday, just ahead of fellow unbeaten colt Raon Rusa. Punters were proved right as, under Lee Hyeok, Cosmos King closed from 5th to 1st in the final furlong to win by a length from filly Dream Queen.

On Sunday, it was Busan’s turn to run its Championship race. And there was a little more of a surprise here as 9/1 chance Rafale overcame hot-favourite Doraon Hyeonpyo in a final stretch battle to take the prize. The two were a dominant 6-lengths ahead of their nearest other rival on the line.

Gyeongnam Sinmun Cup – Busan Racecourse – 1200M – Oct 12, 2014

1. Rafale (KOR) [Colors Flying – Dongbang Choego (Al Naba )] – You Hyun Myung – 9.6, 2.1
2. Doraon Hyeonpyo (KOR) [Colors Flying – Kilcoe Castle (Gone West)] – Jeong Song Cheol – 1.1
3. Yuseong Fighting (KOR) [Didyme – Maggie’s Prayer (Songandaprayer)] – Jo Sung Gon – 1.5
Distances: 0.75 lengths / 6 lengths – 11 ran

The best 2-year-olds of this year’s crop from both Seoul and Busan will reconvene in the capital at the end of next month for the “Breeders’ Cup” to decide the nation’s overall Juvenile Champion.