Thomas Gillespie

150-Up Perovic As Shamrocker & Champ Line Win Well At Seoul & Busan

Djordje Perovic rode his 150th Korean winner at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon and not many of them will have been easier than the landmark one which arrived on Shamrocker in the 2300M Championship Series feature.

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Djordje Perovic returns to scale on Shamrocker

Possibly the biggest challenge for Perovic on Sunday would have been the 52kg weight assigned to the on the up Shamrocker but once that was made there was only likely to be one winner in the race which was run over the maximum distance used at Seoul. After a steady start, Shamrocker hit the front early in the home straight and cantered away from the field to win by six lengths on the line.

It had taken Shamrocker (Dublin), a $30,000 purchase as a 2-year-old at OBS in Florida, eight starts to get his maiden victory but yesterday’s was his fifth in total and second consecutive at class 1. He could have a big summer ahead of him.

Djordje Perovic could well have a big summer ahead of him too. Shamrocker was his 31st victory of 2017 and leaves him five clear of perennial champion Moon Se Young at the top of the standings. With Moon set to spend at least three months of this year in Singapore, Perovic is in pole position to become the first foreign jockey to claim the Seoul championship.

150 wins also ties Perovic with Joe Fujii – who spent Saturday watching Winx disappear into the distance at Rosehill – in 2nd place in the all-time foreign jockey standings in Korea.

Down at Busan a foreign jockey was on top too with Yonekura Satoshi winning Sunday’s feature – also a Championship Series race – over 2200M. It came on Thomas Gillespie’s Champ Line over what was a high class Busan field.

Success Story, as ever, set the early pace but was always likely to struggle to maintain it over the extended distance and so it proved as a host of horses swept by him in the closing stages.

It was Champ Line who did it the most convincingly, running on very strongly for victory by almost three lengths. Places 2nd-6th came home within a half-length of each other, surprisingly headed by 100/1 outsider Bathsheba Park, who was given an enterprising ride by Marios Mina.

Champ Line (Curlin) moves on to 10 wins from 19 starts and is on a four-race winning streak and heads an impressively effective string that has been put together by talented trainer Gillespie.

Miller’s Time: Kiwi Trainer Breaks Through At Busan

Dynamic Star was a winner on debut at Busan on Friday and the 2-year-old Hansen colt landed not only his own maiden win but also a Korean maiden win for New Zealand trainer David Miller.

Miller, who previously trained in Malaysia, has been steadily establishing his stable since arriving in Korea in early autumn and has now assembled a string of 21 horses.

Dynamic Star, a 5/1 shot having put in a reasonably impressive performance in a trial last month, was Miller’s 14th runner and under jockey Chae Sang Hyun, he pulled clear in the closing stages to win by a comfortable three-lengths on the line. Hopefully it will be the first of many.

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David Miller

Miller brings the total number of overseas trainers at Busan to four. Finishing 2nd to Dynamic Star on Friday was Agnes, trained by Thomas Gillespie.

The Irish trainer is almost 18 months into his time at Busan and is quietly moving into the upper echelons of the Busan ranks. He currently lies 10th in the 2016 standings and is sure to rise. Gillespie was 2nd only to Kim Young Kwan in prize-money won in November courtesy of Ms. Margaux giving him his first group winner in the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup.

Already firmly established in the top tier of trainers at Busan is Bart Rice. Although the South African’s stable has had a quiet couple of months, he remains in 5th place in the Championship and maintains a very impressive strike-rate. Also in the top tier of course, is Peter Wolsley. The Australian saddled his 400th Korean winner last week and will finish in 2nd place in the Championship.

Three overseas trainers in the top ten can only be good for the overall standard at Busan. Can David Miller make it four in 2017?

 

Ms. Margaux Lands Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup For Irish Trainer Thomas Gillespie

 Ms. Margaux, so often runner-up over her career,got it right in spectacular style at Busan Racecourse this afternoon. The five-year-old mare got the better of Ttukseom Cup winner Bichui Jeongsang in a stretch duel to win the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup, the final leg of the Queens’ Tour, and hand a first Korean Group win to Irish trainer Thomas Gillespie.

Ms. Margaux (Midnight Lute) a class 1 winner at the 2000M distance in September, was sent off as favourite for the final race in the series which is held to decided the Champion filly or mare of the year, having been 6th in both the two shorter legs. Surprise KNN Cup winner Supreme Magic was 2nd favourite and Queens’ Tour veteran New York Blue 3rd in the market.

Korean Oaks winner Ottug Ottugi showed the way early along with perennial fast-starter Halla Chukje and well-fancied Seoul raider Touch Flying. Bichui Jeongsang and and Ms. Margaux both made ground in the back straight and around the home turn and as the leaders faltered, they led into the straight.

It was one-on-one from then on and under jockey Kim Yong Geun, Ms. Margaux kicked clear in the final furlong to take the honours by just over a length on the line. FIve lengths behind Bichui Jeongsang, the unheralded Mighty Gem put in a huge run to edge New York Blue out of 3rd place in a photograph.

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First Korean Group winner – Thomas Gillespie (Pic: Ross Holburt)

Ms. Margaux was a $15,ooo purchase at the September yearling sales at Keeneland in 2012. Today she took her earnings to in excess of $700,000. She’s had quite a remarkable career, most of it spent with Peter Wolsley before transferring to Thomas Gillespie this season. She took thirteen races to get her maiden win but finished 2nd or 3rd in all of the previous 12. In 29 starts she has only finished outside the money on five occasions with a total of ten 2nd places and eight 3rds. Today she got by far the biggest of her four wins.

It was another group success for jockey Kim Yong Geun, who remains in punters’ bad books after Perdido Pomeroy’s performance against Ottug Ottugi last month but who once again ends up in a big race winner’s circle. For Thomas Gillespie, it is a 35th winner since debuting at Busan last summer. Gillespie maintains a win-rate of almost 14% and his horses find the top three well over 40% of the time. He’s proven a very solid addition to the training ranks at Busan.

Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup (KOR G3) – Busan Racecourse – 2000M – November 20, 2016

1. Ms. Margaux (USA) [Midnight Lute – Sixtyone Margaux (Cozzene)] – Kim Yong Geun – 2.6, 1.2
2. Bichui Jeongsang (USA) [Wildcat Heir – Persimmon Honey (Colonial Affair)] – Jo Sung Gon – 3.3
3. Mighty Gem (USA) [Macho Uno – Shimmer (Pulpit)] – Kim Hye Sun – 12.2
Distances: 1.25 lengths / 5 lengths
Also Ran: 4. New York Blue (USA) 5. Ottug Ottugi (KOR) 6. Areumdaundonghaeng (USA) 7. Hay Queen (USA) 8. Silver Wolf (AUS) 9. Santa Gloria (KOR) 10. Touch Flying (KOR) 11. Supreme Magic (USA) 12. Halla Chukje (USA) 13. Naesarang Damyang (USA)

Jockeys Chisty & Satoshi Land First Wins / Rice Trebles / Dean Debuts

It was a busy week for the expanding foreign contingent in Korean racing at both Seoul and Busan. And there were successes too with jockeys Imran Chisty and Yonekura Satoshi both riding their first winners, Bart Rice training three winners across the weekend and Brian Dean making his long awaited Seoul training debut and scoring a solid 3rd place with Jangsan Jewang.

We’ll start with Imran Chisty. It would be fair to say he impressed all who saw him in work and on the three with no chance that he was given to ride on his debut on May 1st. It was therefore a little disappointing to see the Indian jockey only booked for one single ride across this past weekend. Chisty responded in the best possible manner.

Jeongsang Jeil, in race 1 on Saturday, was Chisty’s first mount with any semblance of a winning chance and win it he did, the 4/1 chance making all over 1300M. Hopefully connections will have taken note and Chisty’s weekends won’t be over by 10:55 on Saturday mornings anymore.

A day earlier at Busan, Japanese jockey Satoshi Yonekura landed his first winner on the peninsula, guiding Gold Blue to victory in race 8. Satoshi, who has been getting plenty of mounts, would follow up with another winner on Sunday with Lady Champ in race 2. Established in Korea already, Ikuyasu Kurakane and Djordje Perovic were also among the winners.

On the training side, it was a very good weekend Bart Rice. The South African saddled three winners across Friday and Sunday. He started with the previously winner-circle dodging filly Load Cell, who finally got things right at the sixth time of asking in race 5 after three runner-up finishes.

Another filly, Daehanuimyeongseong would be next in race 6, landing her second win in eight starts. On Sunday, Rice’s Triple Five would make all to comfortably win the class 3 race 5. That one now has two wins and three 2nd place finishes from five starts.

Thomas Gillespie would also weigh-in with a winner at Busan on Sunday, Jungang Yeoje in race 1, while up at Seoul, Aussie trainer Brian Dean, the first foreign trainer to be licensed in the capital sent out his first runner.

Actually that’s not quite true as Dean brought Valevole to the Asia Challenge Cup last August but on Sunday Jangsan Jewang became the first starter from his newly established Korean stable. Jangsan Jewang was one of three Brian Dean horses to win barrier trial two weeks and under another Australian, Dean Holland he set out to make all in the 1200M class 2 race 11.

It wasn’t quite to be with Jangsan Jewang being caught late on and eventually having to settle for a very solid 3rd place. It was a huge improvement on his two previous starts at class 2. The Brian Dean stable looks one to watch very carefully. There could be some very nervous fellow trainers on the Seoul backstretch right now.

Perovic Perks Up At Seoul As Foreign Jockeys & Trainers Enjoy Winning Weekend

Borelli, Tomizawa, Rice, Tanaka, Takahashi, Gillespie & Wolsley All With Winners Too

It’s been a mixed couple of months for Djordje Perovic but the “Balkan Wolf” was back smiling again having guided four winners home on what was an all-round good weekend for the foreign contingent in Korean racing.

Things hadn’t been going all Perovic’s way since losing the support of one of his main trainers after the KRA Cup Classic at the end of August. However, other trainers have continued to use him and this weekend it all came together as the “Serbian Frankie” – he has no shortage of nicknames – showed his class with a treble on Saturday and a further winner on Sunday.

Those four winners took Perovic to 28 in Korea. Meanwhile fellow Seoul rider Yuri Takahashi, whose Korean license was last week confirmed to have been extended until the end of April 2016 rode his 16th winner in the country on Saturday.

Down at Busan, Bart Rice saddled two winners on Friday, giving Masa Tanaka his 95th Korean victory and taking the Japanese rider one closer to his stated goal of 100 before his license ends. Rice also provided Italian rider Pasquale Borelli with one of his two weekend successes. Nozi Tomizawa also got home in front twice, the first of them a welcome win for trainer Thomas Gillespie.

Gillespie has still only sent out 35 runners in total but has 4 winners now and a remarkable place strike rate of 37%. Rice too takes care of his horses and doesn’t send them out for the sake of it and has a place strike rate of 31%. Peter Wolsley also sent out a winner on Friday and remains in clear 2nd place in the Trainer Championship. His place strike rate is also 37% and was bolstered by Ms. Margaux running a very good 2nd in the Governor’s Cup on Sunday.

Those foreign trained or ridden winners in full:

Djordje Perovic: 4 – Saturday Seoul Race 2 (Yeongam Arirang), Saturday Seoul Race 8 (Bulguruisinhwa), Saturday Seoul Race 13 (Sun Strong), Sunday Seoul Race 1 (Cin Cin Jjan)

Nozi Tomizawa: 2 – Friday Busan Race 9 (Professor Silver), Sunday Busan Race 1 (Green Mireu)

Bart Rice: 2 – Friday Busan Race 1 (Jangguneui Huye), Friday Busan Race 3 (King’s Rules)

Pasquale Borelli: 2 – Friday Busan Race 3 (King’s Rules), Sunday Busan Race 3 (Ganghan Namja)

Masa Tanaka: 1 – Friday Busan Race 1 (Jangguneui Huye)

Yuri Takahashi: 1 – Saturday Seoul Race 5 (Samba Festival)

Thomas Gillespie: 1 – Friday Busan Race 9 (Professor Silver)

Peter Wolsley: 1 – Friday Busan Race 5 (Dangdae Queen)

It wasn’t all good news for the foreign contingent though. Italian jockey Nicola Pinna was scheduled to debut at Seoul this past weekend but unfortunately was unable to make weight for his three mounts. Pinna’s disappointment was compounded as the first of those, Jeongsang Daegil in race 2 on Saturday, bolted up at 10/1 under replacement Lee Chan Ho. Pinna will hopefully get another chance next week when Japanese rider Makoto Okabe is expected to start at Busan.

In addition to Takahashi’s extension, the KRA also confirmed last week that Ikuyasu Kurakane (who was suspended this week) has had his jockey license extended until April 2016. Good news for punters and less so for the local jockey colony. “Good”, is the only sensible reaction to that.

Busan has undoubtedly benefited from the presence of foreign trainers and that is set to be extended to Seoul. Applications have been received over the past couple of months and the first overseas trainers to be granted licenses in the capital will be announced soon.

Power City, Triple Nine Claim Owners’ Cup Trials

Power City beat out New White Socks in a final furlong duel in the Ilgan Sports Cup at Seoul while things were a little more straightforward for Triple Nine in the Gyeongnam Domin Ilbo Cup at Busan, both races intended as trials for next month’s Busan Owners’ Cup.

In the capital, New White Socks, who had broken the 1700M track record on each of his last two starts, was sent off as the favourite. The grey led from the gate but was reeled in and eventually passed in touching distance of the line by Power City, who powered home down the outside under veteran jockey Park Tae Jong.

For Power City (Archer City Slew), it was an 8th win from 14 career starts. He and New White Socks (Secret Weapon) finished a full ten lengths clear of 3rd placed Bujeon Jajeon (J.S. Hold). That order allowed the rare case of two of the three place-getters in a big race as being by sires who raced in Korea.

Ilgan Sports Cup – Seoul Racecourse – 1800M – August 9, 2015

1. Power City (KOR) [Archer City Slew – Power Bull (Holy Bull)] – Park Tae Jong – 4.1, 1.7
2. New White Socks (KOR) [Secret Weapon – Wonder Queen (Canadian Silver)] – Moon Se Young – 1.3
3. Bujeon Jajeon (KOR) [J.S. Hold – Michel With One L (Pacific Waves)] – Shin Hyung Chul
Distances: Neck/10 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Last Mudae (KOR) 5. Meni Money (KOR) 6. Citadel (KOR) 7. Mahanaim (KOR)

At Busan, Triple Nine, 2nd in both the Korean Derby and the Minister’s Cup, was sent off as the overwhelming favourite for the Gyeongnam DoMinIlbo Cup. And he didn’t disappoint this time, cruising to a four-length win.

High Five was 2nd with Oaks winner Jangpung Parang coming home in 3rd having led for much of the race.

Gyeongnam Domin Ilbo Cup – Busan Racecourse – 1600M – August 9, 2015

1. Triple Nine (KOR) [Ecton Park – A Little Poke (Pleasant Tap)] – Lim Sung Sil – 1.3, 1.0
2. High Five (KOR) [Creek Cat – Nam’s Gulch (Gulch)] – Jo Sung Gon – 1.8
3. Jangpung Parang (KOR) [Creek Cat – Ascend The Throne (Silver Charm)] – Kim Yong Geun – 1.4
Distances: 4 lengths/1.5 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Winner’s Marine (KOR) 5. Mac And Cheese (KOR) 6. Royal Impact (KOR) 7. Major Star (KOR) 8. Sinsegye (KOR)

In other races across the weekend, New York Blue (Candy Ride) was an impressive winner of the class 1 feature at Busan on Friday while Saturday’s main event at Seoul saw a 5th career win for US import Clean Up Joy (Purge).

Irish trainer Thomas Gillespie continued his very solid start in Korea with one of his four runners at Busan on Friday coming home a winner, Joiner Captain (Ecton Park) taking race 7 Under Ikuyasu Kurakane. At Seoul, Serbian jockey Djordje Perovic reached 20 Korean winners with a double on Saturday.

Thomas Gillespie Saddles First Runner & Winner, Bart Rice Trains A Treble, Tanaka Rides a Four-Timer, Ikuyasu Wins Too

It was a good day for much of the overseas contingent at Busan. So good, it’s hard to know where to start.

Let’s start with the newcomer. Thomas Gillespie joined the training ranks at the south-coast track in June and has put together a string numbering 23 in total. Today he sent out his first runner. Indeed, Mangang (Creek Cat), who was returning from 10 months away from the track, was to be his only runner all weekend. Punters spotted it a mile off and duly sent Mangang off as the favourite.

Under Masa Tanaka, Mangang duly obliged but it was very tight with the gelding just getting up to overcome Pico Taeyang and hold off the fast finishing Big Echo by a neck on the line. May it be the first of many for Gillespie but it wouldn’t be the only close finish of the day.

Gillespie joins two other foreign trainers at Busan. Peter Wolsley evidently took the day off but South African Bart Rice was in fine form. Rice only sent out four horses all day but three of them returned winners. 10/1 shot Gold Bank (Bernstein) crept down the rail under Masa Tanaka to win race 11 before You Hyun Myung guided favourite Captainiji (Mineshaft) to the honours in race 13.

It was quite a bizarre ending to the race with jockey You taking Captainiji down the rail – which had been the place to be all day – while his closest rival Last Ticket shifted well wide only to fly home and be beaten a neck on the line. It was Captainiji’s second consecutive win over 1800M. Rice wasn’t done. Race 14 saw his Alpha Plus (Biwa Shinseiki) get sent off at 8/1 but in the hands of Masa Tanaka, he defied those odds to land a comfortable 5-length triumph.

Bart Rice has now seen six of his last ten runners return home as winners. Since he started in Korea, his win strike rate is 18%; 27% of his runners have finished in the top two while he has managed to get 33% to show. He is currently 14th of 33 trainers in the 2015 Championship in terms of winners but has sent out significantly fewer runners than any other trainer on the list. Except Thomas Gillespie.

It is this care for his runners – that he sends them out only when they are right – that has made Rice the trainer of choice for some of the new foreign owners at Busan. Dr. Joe Dallao, the first foreign owner to be licensed, has two with him and he in turn introduced Barry Irwin, head of Team Valor (owner of 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom), who has sent his gelding Swoop to Bart’s barn.

It’s time to talk about Masa Tanaka. In between getting Mangang home for Thomas Gillespie and his double for Bart Rice, the Japanese rider also had time to get the best of a desperately close finish to race 4 on Grageo (Biwa Shinseiki). He coaxed the 8/1 chance into beating the favourite Seorabeol Gongju by a nose on the line and it was one of those instances where the jockey made the difference.

Masa Tanaka (Pic: Busan Ilbo)

Masa Tanaka (Pic: Busan Ilbo)

It was Grageo’s second win. His first was on his racecourse debut back last Boxing Day when he was ridden by Tanaka’s Japanese compatriot Joe Fujii. Fujii won just about every big race during his time in Korea while Tanaka is yet to win a Stakes but that doesn’t tell the whole story. He’s now racking up the numbers and with his four victories today moves onto 84 Korean winners and his stated aim of reaching 100 will surely be a formality.

Tanaka is a very good judge of pace who gets his mounts into exactly the right positions and given the right ride in a big race, there is no doubt that he will get the job done. Held in high esteem among punters and connections alike, it’s hoped he will be here for a long time to come and will soon reset his ambition to 200 winners.

On the subject of getting the job done, we turn to Ikuyasu Kurakane. The Seoul Racecourse “MVP” of 2014, despite not winning the Jockey Championship (for a foreigner at Seoul that is an immense achievement), returned to Korea last week after five months riding at his home track of Kochi in Japan. It didn’t take him long to get back in the winner’s circle as he partnered Rising Bravo (Discreet Cat) to victory in race 6. The “Punter’s Friend” is back.

Peter Hill’s Pegasus Stables on Jeju Island has been a big supporter of Bart Rice and has also sent some horses to Thomas Gillespie (and previously to Peter Wolsley too) and to round out a good day for the foreign influence, the Pegasus owned Binggoragio (Blazonry) was the 20/1 winner of the final event on a long day, race 15.

All in all it was a cracking day’s sport at Busan. The foreign influence; the South African track riders, the trainers and the jockeys have played an important role in making Busan far superior to Seoul when the two tracks race their horses against each other. 32,000 punters were at Seoul today to bet solely on Busan. In Gillespie, Rice, Tanaka and Kurakane, they were betting on quality.