spring gnarly

Belated Weekend Round-Up

Given that this coming weekend’s cards are already out – at least those for Busan – this is rather late but there were a few notable things that happened last weekend.

Doraon Hyeonpyo, seen here winning last year's Breeders' Cup, got back to winning ways last weekend (Pic: KRA)

Doraon Hyeonpyo, seen here winning last year’s Breeders’ Cup, got back to winning ways last weekend (Pic: KRA)

Spring Gnarly suffered his first bleeding attack when sent off as odds-on favourite for Sunday’s feature race at Busan. The US bred five-year-old had won nine of his previous fifteen starts and was 2nd in this summer’s Busan Mayor’s Cup but fell out of contention rounding the home turn and while he actually completed the race at a canter, jockey Kim Yong Geun opted not to push him. Aussie-bred Cheonji Bulpae won the race, his first win since March 2014.

Right now, you’ll not get up on the rail at Busan. For the past few weeks it has been noticeable that winner after winner has been coming home in the centre of the track while those on the rail have ended up going backwards. It’s happened to several well-fancied horses including odds-on favourite My Blade on Sunday afternoon. The reason is that the sand is much deeper on the rail than in the centre at the moment and until that’s sorted – and it needs to be – it looks set to continue.

Doraon Hyeonpyo, last year’s Champion Juvenile, couldn’t quite cut it in the Triple Crown races this year but he bounced back to form at Busan last Friday winning a class 2 race over 1900M. Jockey Choi Si Dae made sure to bring him to the middle of the track (of course) as they entered the home straight and the three-year-old cruised away for a 6-length win. Doraon Hyeonpyo will be racing at class 1 next time.

Already at class 1 in Seoul is another Korean Derby also-ran, New White Socks. However, the three-year-old, who looks practically unbeatable up to 1700M, yet again was found wanting over 1800M. Sent off as the odds-on favourite for Sunday’s feature race, New White Socks led into the closing stages only to be overhauled close to the line by Nulpurunchongnyong. It was a third consecutive 2nd place for New White Socks at the distance.

Riding Nulpurunchongnyong was Yuri Takahashi with the Japanese jockey continuing his excellent recent run of form with a double on Sunday. That took Takahashi’s total number of winners to 15 since joining a couple of months ago. A new Italian jockey is set to join Seoul from November 1.

This coming Sunday sees the final leg of the Queens’ Tour, the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup, take place at Busan. We will have a full preview on Saturday.

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Beolmaui Kkum Blasts Back At Busan

With Seoul having taken its annual summer vacation this past weekend, all eyes were on Busan as the only venue for thoroughbred racing on the peninsula. And for Beolmaui Kkum, it was a welcome return to form after a long absence.

Beolmaui Kkum, seen here at the Grand Prix in Seoul, returned to form at Busan on Saturday (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Beolmaui Kkum, seen here at the Grand Prix in Seoul, returned to form at Busan on Saturday (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Touted as a potential star at the end of last season having won 7 of his 10 starts, Beolmaui Kkum (Put It Back) led the way in the Grand Prix Stakes at Seoul in December before fading in the home straight to end up near the back. This would be repeated on two starts at the beginning of this year before he was given close to six months off.

Returning to the track in Saturday’s feature race, punters clearly hadn’t forgotton about him, sending him off as 3rd favourite in the 1900M class 1 handicap.

As he tends to do, Beolmaui Kkum went straight to the front but this time had plenty left when jockey Lee Hee Cheon asked him for an effort in the home straight and he cruised away from his rivals to record a 5-length victory.

Beolmaui Kkum’s return to form was welcome in what had been looking a rather stale group of class 1 horses at both Seoul and Busan. Over the weekend, however, enough up-and-coming imports put in solid enough performances to suggest that we have plenty to look forward to over the coming months.

On Saturday, there were two such stand-out performances. First, Australian colt Gumpo Daeseung (Shaft) made it 4 wins from 5 starts in a class 2 race over 1400M. He had to work for it though. Late to the gate after being re-shoed, Gumpo Daeseung was tracked all the way to the line by 2nd-favourite Uregachi, just holding on to win by a nose.

At a lower class, there was far less stress for US gelding Spring Gnarly (Master Command), who was guided to a 3-length win by apprentice rider Chae Sang Hyun and now moves onto 3 wins from 5 starts.

Sunday’s marathon 15-race card saw another import put in an impressive performance as Mujinjang (Silver Train) strolled to his 6th win in 7 career starts, claiming the class 2 race 14 by two lengths.

On the domestic fron there were encouraging performances too. Derby also-ran Gumpo Sky (Vicar) offered further proof that his disappoiting run in the Classic at Seoul was an aberration, by strolling to a 7-length victory in Saturday’s class 2 race 6. One race earlier, Peter Wolsley’s Never Seen Before (Ecton Park), who didn’t even make it to the Derby, was similarly impressive in deconstructing a similar class 2 field by the same 7-length margin.

Both are now likely to be pointed towards the final leg of the Triple Crown, the Minister’s Cup at Seoul in October.

Next week, action returns to Seoul and it is International Exchange race weekend.
Although there is no International Jockey Challenge this year (due to the Asia Challenge Cup being run later in the month which will include 6 visiting jockeys), there will still be plenty to look forward to. Full previews up soon.