Stayer Series

Winner’s Man Heads Stayer Series 2nd Leg Field Sunday

The Stayer Series holds its second leg at Seoul Racecourse this Sunday as ten go to post for the YTN Cup (2000M KOR-G3). And with Raon The Fighter now firmly ensconced atop the sprinting ranks following his dominant wins in the Busan Ilbo Sprint in April and the SBS Sports Sprint last weekend, the path appears clear for Winner’s Man to continue his dominance over the longer trips. 

Winner’s Man won the 1st leg of the Stayer Series from Tuhonui Banseok. (Pic: KRA)

Having won the Korea Cup and Grand Prix Stakes in 2022, WINNER’S MAN, who also won the Korea Derby as a three-year-old, began the Stayer Series as the one to beat and he duly obliged in the first leg, the Herald Business Trophy (2000M KOR-G3) on April 16th when he struck the front in the home straight and ran on to win by three-lengths. Over the same distance and under a set weight scale, it is hard to see any other result on Sunday.

Winner’s Man does throw in the odd poor run though. He looked undercooked when 3rd behind Raon First in last November’s President’s Cup, and he was out of sorts when 4th on his seasonal re-appearance at class 1 level over 1800M in February. He was giving 8kg away that day but with all due respect to that day’s winner Flat Babe, Winner’s Man shouldn’t have been losing to her.

As for those who can take advantage should the favourite be below his best, TUHONUI BANSEOK looks the most likely. He was another who had an off day in that February Class 1 behind Flat Babe although in finishing 3rd, he did at least beat Winner’s Man. He ran 2nd in the Herald Business building on his breakthrough performance when 3rd in the Grand Prix Stakes, when he made excellent ground to almost catch Winner’s Man and Raon The Fighter. One of two in the race for trainer Bart Rice along with lively outsider Jessieui Kkum, Tuhonui Banseok will be a clear second-favourite again.

Tunhonui Banseok isn’t the only one in the gate to have finished ahead of Winner’s Man. SIMJANGUI GODONG did that when 2nd to Raon First when attempting to defend his President’s Cup (2000M KOR-G1) last November. He skipped the Herald Business but returned to the winner’s circle at Class 1 level over 2000M in April.  Moon Se-young returns to the ride and he is a clear place chance again.

The top-three in the Herald Business was rounded out by BARBARIAN, a length and a quarter in arrears of Tuhonui Banseok. He too will be backed to place again. BLACK MASK had a poor day at the office in the Herald Business but shapes as the next best in what will be a final Group race ride for the retiring jockey Ham Wan-sik.

The YTN Cup is race 8 on Sunday’s 11-race card at Seoul Racecourse with a local post time of 16:10.

Winner’s Man Too Good In Successful Herald Business Defence

Winner’s Man won the opening leg of the Stayer Series a year ago on his way to a clean sweep, and at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon, he demonstrated he has lost none of his superiority at the longer distances with a comfortable defence of the Herald Business Cup (2000M KOR-G3).

Winner’s Man goes clear of Tuhonui Banseok in the Herald Business (Pic: KRA)

The 2022 Korea Sprint and Grand Prix Stakes winner had been known to throw in the odd lackluster performance, such as when 3rd in last November’s G1 President’s Cup and especially when 4th in his tune up for this, a handicap over 1800M at Busan in February. Winner’s Man though returned to action this time leaner, having come down 15kg in body weight since that setback, and was sent off the 1.5 favourite in the local win pool.

Raon The Spurt, the only filly, set the pace as Winner’s Man slotted into 4th place among ten in the early exchanges with Black Musk and Tuhonui Banseok, the Grand Prix Stakes 3rd, between them. As the field made their way down the back straight, just after halfway, Seo Seung-un took Winner’s Man up closer to join Raon The Spurt and the rest was inevitable.

Winner’s Man struck the front shortly after they turned into the home straight and while Tuhonui Banseok briefly closed the gap up the inside rail, when Seo asked for an effort, Winner’s Man responded and opened up clear daylight again, ultimately crossing the line three-lengths to the good over the Bart Rice-trained Tuhonui Banseok. Barbarian made it a one-two-three for Busan-trained gallopers with Raon The Spurt a brave 4th the best of the Seoul home team.

Seo Seung-un and Winner’s Man (Pic: KRA)

Winner’s Man [Musket Man – Winner’s Marine (by Volponi)] moved on to fifteen wins from twenty-two starts. For jockey Seo Seung-un, it was a thirteenth Group winner, and his fifth on Winner’s Man.  For trainer Choi Ki-hong, who only has eighteen horses in training, it was a fifth Group win (a year ago, the Herald Business only had Listed status).

The next leg in the Stayer Series is the YTN Cup (2000M KOR-G3) back at Seoul on May 21st before the series moves to Busan for the Busan Mayor’s Cup (1800M KOR-G2) on July 2nd. Winner’s Man won both those races in 2022 and barring setbacks, few will be betting against him repeating the feat this time around.

In other news, spare a thought for Lee Dong-ha. A week ago, the jockey got the biggest winner of his career to date when partnering Eodigana to success in the Donga Ilbo Trophy. He followed up with a winner this Saturday and another in race 1 on Sunday. Racing has a habit of bringing you crashing back down again – often literally. Lee suffered a heavy fall in race 5 on Sunday and was transported to hospital with a suspected broken collarbone.

Next week the three-year-old classics get underway with the Luna Stakes, the first leg of the Triple Tiara for fillies being run over a mile at Busan on Sunday.