Useung Touch

Big Race Preview: Seoul Vs Busan In Jeju Cup

Jigeum I Sungan heads big name field that also includes Gyeongbudaero, Useung Touch and Road To Prince

Sunday is Jeju Island Day at Seoul Racecourse! While to Gyongmaman, Jeju Island brings to mind images of rain, fog, and a “dormant” volcano (last eruption 1007) which shares the name of his favourite brand of Soju, to others it is known as the “Hawaii of Korea”.

Of more interest to punters, however, is that Jeju is home to not only a unique type of pony racing which gets simulcasted to the mainland, but that it is also home to the majority of the Korean thoroughbred breeding industry.

Jigeum I Sungan heads the field for the inaugural Jeju Governor's Cup at Seoul (KRA)

Jigeum I Sungan heads the field for the inaugural Jeju Governor’s Cup at Seoul (KRA)

The KRA has decided to mark that this year by turning Seoul Racecourse into a “Mini Jeju” which will showcase Jeju culture (that Halla-san Soju, by any chance?) and its agricultural products. More importantly, they’ve decided to run a big-money race which has attracted some of the best domestic-bred horses from the capital and from Busan.

Three Classic winners are among the eleven runners (Name [Pedigree] Sex Age (Runs/1/2/3) Jockey (Home track)):

Jeju Governor’s Cup – Seoul Race Park – 2000M – June 30, 2013 – 16:35

1. New And Best [Trick Of Fate – Yeongunch’eon (Phizam)] H 6 (45/4/6/3) – Yukio Abe (Seoul)
He finished a shock 2nd to Jigeum I Sungan in the Owners’ Trophy in April prior to which he’d been marked down as a plodding handicapper. He followed it up with a creditable Class 1 3rd place, again behind Jigeum I Sungan. It would be quite a stretch for him to repeat that here though.

2. Mr. Rocky [Exploit – Sultry N’Sassy (Thunder Gulch)] G 6 (30/7/6/1) – Yoon Tae Hyuk (Seoul)
Had his 2012 season wiped out by injury and his results since coming back suggest he is not the horse he was. An outsider.

3. Gyeongbudaero [Menifee – Princess Lanique (Cherokee Run)] C 4 (18/6/4/6) – Choi Si Dae (Busan)
Difficult to believe that the 2012 KRA Cup Mile winner has won only 6 times. He’s only ever been out of the money once and almost always places. At minimum he should do that again.

4. Useung Touch [Menifee – Jenny Tudor (Gulch)] M 5 (23/8/7/2) – Chae Gyu Jun (Busan)
The 2011 Korean Oaks winner has been enjoying a renaissance since finishing a surprise 2nd in the Grand Prix Stakes last December and returned to Seoul to take the Ttukseom Cup in March. A disappointing 5th behind Yongduseong in last month’s KNN Cup at Busan, she seems to love the Seoul track and can’t be ruled out.

5. Yongduseong [Concept Win – C’est Avie (Lord Avie)] M 5 (14/9/2/1) – Lim Sung Sil (Busan)
The KNN Cup winner is on a run of 3 consecutive successes. However, she’s never won at further than a mile and is untried completely at this distance or on this track. She’s talented but those caveats are enough to suggest that stablemate Road To Prince is the real fancy from the Kim Young Kwan barn.

6. Yeongung Icheon [Concept Win – Saratogasplash (Wild Again)] H 5 (25/6/4/3) – Moon Jung Kyun (Seoul)
A solid enough performer but he doesn’t win much at this level and he’ll not be winning here.

7. Road To Prince [Pico Central – Ransom Bay (Red Ransom)] C 4 (12/8/2/0) – Kanichiro Fujii (Busan)
A late bloomer but, barring a 5th place in the Busan Ilbo Cup in February, looks to be getting better with each run. Jockey Joe Fujii and trainer Kim Young Kwan generally only come to Seoul to win and he will have plenty of backers.

8. Sharp Concept [Concept Win – Sharp Eyed (Danzero)] M 5 (31/5/2/6) – Ikuyasu Kurakane (Seoul)
She hasn’t impressed since graduation to CLass 1 this Spring and there’s little recommend her here.

9. Forest Wind [Capital Spending – Coffee Royale (Sword Dance)] H 6 (37/7/3/7) – Lee Sang Hyeok (Seoul)
Two wins over course and distance this year already means he can’t be discounted although he did get turned over in his two most recent outings by opposition inferior to what he’ll face here.

10. Jigeum I Sungan [Ingrandire – Solmaru (Mujaazif)] C 4 (20/11/6/1) – Moon Se Young (Seoul)
Since winning the Korean Derby last May, he’s won 7 of his 9 starts and all 5 this year. He’s the best Korean horse running at Seoul at the moment (and with Dangdae Bulpae on the long-term injury list, perhaps in the country) and he still appears to be getting better with every run. If he runs anything close to his best, he wins.

11. Gangcheoljangsa [Slew O’Green – Komyeongttal (Nurefly)] G 6 (36/2/9/5) – Kim Ok Sung (Seoul)
Hasn’t won since 2010. Won’t win here. Gets in because few want to take on Jigeum I Sungan and his owner likes a challenge.

Weekend Race Times

Saturday June 29
Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:00 to 17:40
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 12:30 to 17:20

Sunday June 30
Seoul Race Park: 11 races from 11:00 to 18:00
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:50 to 17:05

Last Gasp Yongduseong Snatches KNN Cup

Yongduseong hit the front in the very last stride to grab victory in the KNN Cup by the smallest of margins at Busan Race Park this afternoon.

Ttukseom Cup winner Useung Touch (Menifee) was the heavily backed pre-race favourite and, after early pace-setter Chowonuibyeol dropped out of contention entering the home straight, she seemed poised to add the second leg of the Queens Tour to her collection.

However, upon hitting the front she stalled allowing Joe Fujii to come roaring through on her inside on Pokpung Hero (Henny Hughes). Deep into the final furlong they seemed to have it won until seemingly out of nowhere on the stands side, Yongduseong (Concept Win) and Secret Whisper (Sea Of Secrets) began closing rapidly.

They swept past Pokpung Hero metres from the line, crossing it together, the photograph revealing Yongduseong to be the victor by a nose.

A late developer, Yongduseong only debuted mid-way through her 3-year-old season and then only made 4 appearances as a 4-year old. Fragile but very talented, today’s win was her 9th from 14 starts. For trainer Kim Young Kwan, it was yet another Stakes winner with a filly.

He trained Busan greats Luna and Sangseung Ilro and still takes care of current Grand Prix champion Gamdonguibada and Derby winner Speedy First. For 32-year old jockey Lim Sung Sil, it was his 3rd Stakes win

In second, the Pegasus Stables owned and bred Secret Whisper marked a decent Stakes race result for Australian trainer Peter Wolsley as he came so close to getting his second really big race win.

As for Useung Touch, she faded to 5th after a very slow final furlong. She did, however, beat every horse from Seoul. Indian Blue (Henny Hughes) in 6th was the best placed finisher in yet another dismal showing by the capital track’s representatives.

KNN Cup – Busan Race Park – 1600M – June 9, 2013

1. Yongduseong (KOR) [Concept Win – C’Est Avie (Lord Avie)] – Lim Sung Sil – 14.9, 3.1
2. Secret Whisper (KOR) [Sea Of Secrets – Generals Passion (General Meeting)] – Jo Sung Gon – 5.9
3. Pokpung Hero (USA) [Henny Hughes – Chitka (Jade Hunter)] – Kanichiro Fujii – 3.0

Distances: Nose/0.5 lengths
Also ran: 4. Silver Classic (USA) 5. Useung Touch (KOR) 6. Indian Blue (USA) 7. Grand Teukgeup (KOR) 8. Empire World (USA) 9. Gumpo Yeowang (KOR) 10. Sangyu (USA) 11. Blueband Mama (USA) 12. Dangdae Jeonseung (CAN) 13. Imperial Girl (USA) 14. Dongteuja (KOR) 15. Chowonuibyeol (USA) NR: Kkakjaengi (USA)

* Up in the capital, the Sports Hankuk Trophy – a non-stakes trophy race – was the feature event. It ended in a comfortable win for 6/1 chance Real Victor (Biwa Shinseiki) who landed his 9th victory from 39 starts.

Real Victor and Ham Wan Sik win the Sports Hankuk Trophy at Seoul

Real Victor and Ham Wan Sik win the Sports Hankuk Trophy at Seoul

Meanwhile, Japanese jockey Ikuyasu Kurakane followed up his double yesterday with another today, taking race 1 on Jilpung Haengjin (Ecton Park) and race 7 on Jeongsang Party (Exclusive Quality).

There’s no Stakes action next week although the aforementioned Gamdonguibada is slated to be in action at Busan on Sunday. She suffered a surprising defeat last time out and will be looking to get back in form in Busan’s feature race.

KNN Cup – The Runners & Riders

Ttukseom Cup Winner Useung Touch Heads Line-Up For Queens’ Tour 2nd Leg

A couple of years ago, the Korea Racing Authority designated a “Year of the Filly”. They raised the upper limit that could be spent on imported fillies and ensured that most racedays would have at least one race with decent prize money that was restricted to fillies and mares. Last year saw the first staging of the “Queens’ Tour”, a series of big-money Stakes races designed to find the nation’s top female horse, be it domestically bred or imported.

Useung Touch being recalcitrant in the Ttukseom Cup winner's circle in April. She is favourite for the KNN Cup

Useung Touch being recalcitrant in the Ttukseom Cup winner’s circle in April. She is favourite for the KNN Cup

The scheme, which is designed ultimately to improve the local breeding stock, seems to be having some success. Last year’s Queens’ Tour winner Gamdonguibada went on to win the season-ending Grand Prix Stakes while coincidentally another filly, Speedy First, won the Korean Derby at Seoul Race Park last month.

Sunday’s KNN Cup at Busan is the second leg of the 2013 Queens’ Tour following April’s Ttukseom Cup at Seoul. The winner of that race Useung Touch (Menifee) heads the field for the mile-long race. Seven have travelled down from Seoul to face nine from Busan. Here is a full run down of the field with pedigree, race records (Starts/1st/2nd/3rd) and rider:

KNN Cup – Busan Race Park – 1600M – June 9, 2013 – 16:15

1. Gumpo Yeowang (KOR) [Menifee – Lady Forza (Fuji Kiseki)] (14/3/4/5/) – You Hyun Myung
Has shown good form recently and was 2nd in a fast time over the distance last start but is yet to be tested in this kind of company.

2. Indian Blue (USA) [Henny Hughes – Gamblers Passion (Prospectors Gamble)] (8/3/2/3) – Yoo Seung Wan
The Segye Ilbo Cup winner was 3rd in the Ttukseom Cup and must be given respect here, especially after finishing 3rd in a class 1 outing last month. A chance.

3. Imperial Girl (USA) [Imperialism – Wallena (Wallenda)] (28/3/2/3) – Lee Ah Na
Showed early promise as a 3yo but on reaching class 1 has found things difficult. She will be an outsider.

4. Dongteuja (KOR) [Montbrook – Maremaid (Storm Bird)] (16/7/1/3) – Song Keong Yun
The half-sister of double-Grand Prix winner Dongbanui Gangja was a disappointment in the Ttukseom Cup and was dreadful last start. On her day though, she can beat anyone.

5. Chowonuibyeol (USA) [Rockport Harbor – Arctic’s Angel (Artax)] (15/3/3/2) – Choi Bum Hyun
Has been in poor form this year and is difficult to recommend here. However, Choi Bum Hyun giving up a weekend riding in Seoul to partner her does raise eyebrows slightly.

6. Grand Teukgeup (KOR) [Menifee – Saratoga Campaign (Mt.Livermore)] (17/7/3/1) – Chae Gyu Jun
Second in the Ttukseom Cup and hasn’t run since (although she did win a trail by 26 lengths last month). Should like the distance and is likely to be 2nd favourite behind Useung Touch. Could go one better this time.

7. Blueband Mama (USA) [Purge – Meadow Bryte (Meadowlake)] (26/3/4/2) – Kim Ok Sung
Another who has found things really difficult since graduating to class 1. Little in her favour here.

8. Pokpung Hero (USA) [Henny Hughes – Chitka (Jade Hunter)] (9/3/1/2) – Kanichiro Fujii
Jockey Joe Fujii has a way with the ladies, winning the Grand Prix on Gamdonguibada and the Derby on Speedy First. He has a very promising mount here too who won over the distance last time and looks to be an improver. Could provide some value.

9. Secret Whisper (KOR) [Sea Of Secrets – Generals Passion (General Meeting)] (22/8/3/5) – Jo Sung Gon
Peter Wolsley’s mare was 3rd on her last start behind Yongduseong and should give a game run. Whether it will be a fast enough run though is another matter. Busan’s champion jockey rides.

10. Silver Classic (USA) [Chapel Royal – Psychic Friend (Star De Naskra)] (18/3/3/2) – Jo Chan Hoon
A consistent money winner but not a consistent winner. That won’t change here.

11. Yongduseong (KOR) [Concept Win – C’est Avie (Lord Avie)] (13/8/2/1) – Lim Sung Sil
A late starter, the ligthly raced 5-year old is an interesting prospect. She comes in off the back of 2 victories and could give the favourites some problems.

12. Useung Touch (KOR) [Menifee – Jenny Tudor (Gulch)] (22/8/7/2) – Choi Si Dae
The 2011 Korean Oaks winner shot back to prominence with 2nd place in the 2012 Grand Prix Stakes. Since then she has been exceptional and won the Ttukseom Cup comfortably before following up with a class 1 victory over a mile last time out. The favourite and deservedly so.

13. Empire World (USA) [Empire Maker – Salty You (Salt Lake)] (20/5/2/3) – Kim Dong Young
A nice little dark horse chance here. 5th in the Ttukseom Cup and then 4th behind Useung Touch next start, she could surprise a few people by stealing a place.

14. Dangdae Jeonseung (CAN) [Put It Back – Diamond Heirloom (Pembroke)] (16/4/1/1) – Lee Sang Hyeok
Not a huge amount going for her here. A talented filly, she is one of those who has reached class 1 and has nowhere to go. An outsider.

15. Kkakjaengi (USA) [Put It Back – Wild Dixie Gal (Wild Event)] (20/6/4/4) – Shin Hyoung Chul
A multiple Stakes winner as a 3-year old, she has been less impressive recently, her best result this year being a distant 4th behind Tough Win in a handicap at Seoul. On her day she is still capable of pulling out a big performance but the odds are against it happening here.

16. Sangnyu (USA) [Broken Vow – Midtown Miss (Yes It’s True)] (16/4/3/1) – Park Tae Jong
4th in the Ttukseom Cup, she’s been consistent this year and could have a chance of placing.

Ttukseom Cup Champion Keeps Her Winning Touch

Useung Touch, winner of last month’s Ttukseom Cup in Seoul returned to action at her home track of Busan this afternoon with some style as she defeated a field full of imported horses to win the first of co-main events.

Useung Touch

Useung Touch

The 2011 Korean Oaks winner had a solid if unspectacular 4-year old season last year, always managing a money-winning finish but generally finding one or two too quick for her.

However, her year ended with a big jump up in performance when she finished 2nd to another filly, Gamdonguibada in the Grand Prix Stakes.

Returning to the capital she dominated the Ttukeseom Cup, the first leg of the “Queens’ Tour” that will decide Korea’s champion filly and mare.

Today, Useung Touch (Menifee) was sent off the hot favourite, despite being one of only three Korean-bred runners in the mile-long race. In the end, she fought out a tough finish with US-bred colt Wild Myeongun (D’Wildcat), getting the better of him by just over a half a length on the line. The rest of the field trailed in a full eleven lengths behind the leading pair.

Useung Touch now has 8 wins from 22 starts – but with a further 7 seconds and 2 thirds to her name and over 1 Billion won in prize money in the bank, she currently just edges Gamdonguibada (who has 8 wins but from just 12 starts) as the most successful filly or mare on the peninsula right now. Jockey Choi SI Dae felt he should have won the Grand Prix when Useung Touch started at 100/1. A rematch between the two could be very interesting.

In the other co-feature at Busan, 4-1 chance Baekho Janggun (Pico Central) took a narrow win by a neck from Peter Wolsley’s old-stager Khaosan (Sunday Well). Wolsley also saddled the 3rd horse home, Ghost Whisper (Gotham City).

Meanwhile, earlier in the day, Japanese jockey Joe Fujii continued his excellent form. He landed races 1 and 2 to take his tally to the weekend for 6. Fujii’s countryman Ureshi Katsunori was also on the board again but Darryll Holland’s best finish was the second on Wild Myeongun.

Also at Busan, My Key (Macho Uno), a half-brother to US champion Game On Dude, recorded his 3rd career win on his 7th start. He won the 1500 metre race 4 by a comfortable 5 lengths.

Up at Seoul, the feature race also went to a filly. 2012 Nonghyup Chairman’s Stakes winner Speedus (Menifee) found her way back to the winner’s circle for the first time in 2013 with a 2-length victory in the 1800 metre main event.

Next week, Busan is the focus again with a small but top class field set to compete for the Gukje Sinmun Cup. Three-time President’s Cup winner Dangdae Bulpae (Biwa Shinseiki) and the afore-mentioned Gamdonguibada (Werblin) are among those currently set to run.

Untouchable! Useung Touch Romps To Ttukseom Cup Triumph

Useung Touch struck the first blow in the race to become Champion filly & mare of 2013 by cruising to a remarkable 7-length victory in the Ttukseom Cup, the first leg of the 2013 Queens’ Tour, at Seoul Race Park Sunday.

Hold On! Connections and jockey Choi Si Dae struggle to hold Useung Touch in the Ttukseom Cup winner's circle

Hold On! Connections and jockey Choi Si Dae struggle to hold Useung Tocuh in the Ttukseom Cup winner’s circle

Now 5-years-old, the 2011 Korean Oaks winner Useung Touch (Menifee)announced her return to form with shock 2nd place finish to Gamdounguibada in the Grand Prix Stakes in December. Today, re-united with jockey Choi Si Dae for the first time since she was a 3-year-old and dropping down to 7 furlongs, she was sent off as second-favourite behind Segye Ilbo Cup winner Indian Blue.

Always travelling well, Useung Touch hit the front with just over a furlong to run and powered away from the field, still stretching her lead on the line. Fellow Korean bred filly Grand Teukgeup (Menifee), 3rd in last year’s Oaks was closest to her in 2nd, while Indian Blue’s effort was too little and far too late as she finished in 3rd.

Useung Touch now has 7 wins from her 21 starts with 7 2nd place finishes and prize money of over 1 Billion Korean Won. A star of the 2011 Triple Crown trail, in addition to winning the Oaks, she was 2nd in the Derby and Minister’s Cup. While she only recorded one win in 2012, she’s now firmly established back among the Korean racing elite.

It’s another triumph for Korea’s top stallion Menifee. In siring the 1st and 2nd home, he extends his lead at the top of the Leading Sire race with more than double the prize money of his closest rival.

Ttukseom Cup (KOR G3) – Seoul Race Park – 1400M – March 17, 2013

1. Useung Touch (KOR) [Menifee – Jenny Tudor (Gulch)] – Choi Si Dae – 3.2, 1.4
2. Grand Teukgeup (KOR) [Menifee-Saratoga Campaign (Mt. Livermore)] – Chae Gyu Jun – 3.6
3. Indian Blue (USA) [Henny Hughes – Gamblers Passion (Prospector’s Gamble)] – Cho Kyoung Ho – 1.5

Distances: 7 lengths / 0.75 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Sangnyu (USA) 5. Empire World (USA) 6. Darani (USA) 7. Seungniuihamseong (KOR) 8. Dongteuja (KOR) 9. Dangdae Jeonseung (CAN) 10. Imperial Girl (USA) 11. Kkakjaengi (USA) 12. Sangseung Geotap (USA) 13. Ruby Queen (KOR) 14. Royale Embrace (USA) 15. Chowonuibyeol (USA) 16. Blueband Mama (USA)

* There is Listed race action at Seoul next weekend. 2012 Korean Derby winner Jigeum I Sungan (Ingrandire) heads the entrants for the Sports Donga Cup.

Gamdonguibada And Joe Fujii Land Historic Grand Prix Stakes Win

Gamdonguibada became the first filly for twelve years and Joe Fujii the first ever foreign jockey to win the nation’s most prestigious race, the Grand Prix Stakes at Seoul Race Park this afternoon.

Joe Fujii and Gamdonguibada win the Grand Prix Stakes (KRA)

Joe Fujii and Gamdonguibada win the Grand Prix Stakes (KRA)

In weak sunshine on a bitterly cold day in the Korean capital, the three-year old US-bred Ganmdonguibada, already champion filly & mare of 2012 after her win in the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup, became overall champion racehorse of the year as, under a brilliantly timed ride from Japanese jockey Fujii, she edged out outsider Useung Touch and three-time President’s Cup winner Dangdae Bulpae by a neck on the line.

Gamdonguibada gets the better of Useung Touch and Dangdae Bulpae

Gamdonguibada gets the better of Useung Touch and Dangdae Bulpae

Tough Win had been sent off as slight favourite but while the defending champion looked to be well placed coming into the final straight, his challenge faded around the furlong pole as he eventually finished in fifth. Other reasonably well-fancied horses Nolbu Manse and Smoking Gun were never able to get properly involved while Oh Kyoung Hoan left his challenge on the fast-finishing Jumong slightly too late.

It was left therefore to second favourite Dangdae Bulpae to battle it out with Useung Touch and Gamdonguibada for the victory. Dangdae Bulpae was the first to go, beaten with 100 metres to run but 2011 Korean Oaks winner Useung Touch was stubborn until the very end as Fujii coaxed one last effort from Gamdonguibada to take the prize.

Gamdonguibada and Joe Fujii in the Grand Prix Winner's Circle

Gamdonguibada and Joe Fujii in the Grand Prix Winner’s Circle

Gamdonguibada [Werblin – Radyla (Country Pine)] was a $31,000 purchase from the Ocala Spring sale of Two-year olds in training last year has won 6 of her 10 career start. Three of them have come in Stakes races; the Gukje Sinmun in April, the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup in early November, which saw her take overall victory in the “Queens’ Tour” to become champion filly & mare for the year and now, the biggest of the lot today. She’s earned just shy of $1 Million in prize money.

As for her jockey, Kanichiro “Joe” Fujii debuted in May this year and has ridden 30 winners from 207 rides. He partnered Gamdonguibada to her Governor’s Cup win last month to claim his first Korean Stakes triumph and was in top form to get her home today.

Unusually for visiting riders who win races, Fujii seems popular with the other jockeys – Jo Sung Gon was among the first to congratulate him after the race – and, while he will now have to sit out the rest of the season due to an eight-day ban, it is to be hoped he’ll have his license extended in the New Year.

So Gamdonguibada becomes only the fourth filly – and the first since Cheolgeoun Party – to win the Grand Prix Stakes. With Useung Touch in second, it made for an exacta paying out at 1400/1. Only three-years old, we have plenty more to look forward to from our Champion Racehorse of 2012.

Grand Prix Stakes (KOR G1) – Seoul Race Park – 2300M – Sunday December 9, 2012

1. Gamdonguibada (USA) [Werblin – Radyla (Country Pine)] – Kanichiro Fujii – 21.7, 3.9
2. Useung Touch (KOR) [Menifee – Jenny Tudor (Gulch)] – Lim Sung Sil – 20.6
3. Dangdae Bulpae (KOR) [Biwa Shinseiki – Indeed My Dear (Alydeed)] – 1.5

Distances: Neck/0.75 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Jumong (USA) 5. Tough Win (USA) 6. Nolbu Manse (USA) 7. Seungniuihamseong (KOR) 8. Sing Sing Cat (USA) 9. Smoking Gun (USA) 10. Sydney Jewelry (AUS) 11. Sangnyu (USA) 12. Nobel Pokpung (KOR) 13. Tamna Hwangje (USA)

Queen Beats Ace As Favourites Fold

Ruby Queen Bests Ace Galloper At Seoul / Joe Murphy Trains Outsider Atanarjuat To Stun Useung Touch At Busan

It was a day of upsets in the feature races at Seoul and Busan today. On the south coast, what was billed as a match-race between Useung Touch and Geumdda was crashed by a 42/1 outsider, while in the capital Ace Galloper couldn’t overcome a severe weight disadvantage as he went down to Ruby Queen.

Ace Galloper is nowhere to be seen as Ruby Queen and Boo Min Ho sprint to victory at Seoul

Despite carrying 61kg, Ace Galloper (Chapel Royal) was still strongly fancied to snap a streak of two consecutive second places in Seoul’s feature handicap. However, Ruby Queen (Badge Of Silver) took an early lead and proceeded to make all under jockey Boo Min Ho. Ace Galloper looked poised to challenge as they entered the home straight, but he although he left the rest of the field behind, he never looked like making an impact on Ruby Queen’s lead and the filly held on for a comfortable two-length win.

Ace Galloper, winner of last year’s KRA Cup Classic and Seoul’s top-ranked domestic bred horse, now has three second place finishes in a row. On the plus side, Ruby Queen won’ be getting nine kilos off him again any time soon.

Down at Busan there was an ever bigger surprise. The clash between 2011 Korean Oaks winner Useung Touch (Menifee) and the three-year old filly Geumdda (Officer), who had only been beaten once in seven starts, was one that punters had been looking forward to all year. In the end, it was something of a disappointment.

Although it was clear from early on that Geumdda was having an off-day, Useung Touch at least looked to be doing the business authoritatively as she led the field in the home straight. However, that reckoned without little-known Joe Murphy trainee Atarnarjuat (Graeme Hall), who flew home down the rail to take a shock two-length win at odds of 42/1.

Six-years old, Atarnarjuat was scoring just his fourth win from thirty-one starts and his first since May 2010. For American trainer Joe Murphy it was a second class 1 win of 2012. For jockey Park Geum Man, it was the perfect preparation for his trip to Seoul next weekend where he will ride the favourite, Gyeongbudaero, in the Korean Derby.

* In other news, jockey Kim Cheol Ho has received a six month ban for his ride on filly Indian Hopper in race 8 at Seoul on Saturday. The filly was slow leaving the gate and lost touch with the field. She recovered a little but she finished ten lengths adrift of the next to last horse home. Although there was no evidence that he deliberately slowed the filly, Stewards did not accept his explanation that he was concerned as to her welfare in the early stages (the vet check came back fine). He’ll get his license back on November 13.

Here’s the video, judge for yourself. He breaks – slowly – from gate 2:

Weekend Preview

Useung Touch vs Geumdda at Busan / Ace Galloper at Seoul

The Korea Racing Authority has been in the news this week for its financial acumen in the movie industry, or otherwise, but there’s little time to dwell on that as we’re just a week away from the Korean Derby!

While there’s no Stakes action on the peninsula this weekend, there’s plenty to keep us occupied.

Useung Touch faces Geumdda at Busan

At Busan, Sunday sees a battle of the fillies as 2011 Oaks winner Useung Touch (Menifee) faces Geumdda (Officer), a three-year old with 6 wins from 7 starts.

Conceived in the US (although both her sire and dam are now in Korea), Geumdda is ineligible for the Triple Crown races but looks a force to be reckoned with at distances of up to a mile. At 1500M, this should be a good race.

At Seoul, while Saturday’s card is perhaps the weakest for many months, there is a class 1 feature race on Sunday. Ace Galloper (Chapel Royal) heads an eleven-strong field over 1700 metres.

It is set to be a beautiful weekend. Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday May 11

Busan Race Park: 10 races from 12:00 to 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 13:30 to 17:30

Saturday May 12

Seoul Race Park: 12 races from 11:00 to 17:40
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 12:20 to 17:00

Sunday May 13

Seoul Race Park: 10 races from 11:00 to 17:40
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:15 to 16:40

Oaks Winner Back In Touch

Useung Touch Makes Successful Return At Busan / Grand Niner Wins Again / Lee Ah Na, Kim Hae Sun Double At Seoul

Useung Touch returned to action for the first time in five months and last year’s Korean Oaks winner didn’t disappoint as she got the best of a stretch duel with older horse Quantum to win the feature race at Busan this afternoon.

The outstanding Korean filly of last year, Useung Touch (Menifee) finished second in both the Korean Derby and in the final classic of the season, the Minister’s Cup.

Despite her last appearance having been in the President’s Cup at Seoul last November, punters were confident enough in her ability to send her off second favourite behind Quantum (Ecton Park), a later-starting five-year old who had won six of his nine starts to date, in the 1400 metre feature race.

It would be those two who would battle it out over the final furlong with Useung Touch just managing to get her nose in front at the right time to claim victory by a head.

Useung Touch now has six wins from her twelve career starts and could be an interesting addition to the big summer handicaps.

Lee Ah Na returns to scale after landing the second of her two winners at Seoul today

Up at Seoul there was a little bit of history as two female jockeys landed doubles for what was, as far as anybody at the track could remember, the first time ever.

First year apprentice Lee Ah Na won race 1 on racecallers’ nightmare I Love You (Chief Pete) before following up with a fine ride on Cheonseung (Chief Pete) to claim race 6 and take her career tally to ten winners.

This means that she has ridden out the first of her weight allowances and from now on will only be able to claim 3Kg.

Earlier this year, Kim Hae Sun rode out her allowance completely – the quickest Korean woman ever to do so. Naturally, things have been a little tougher since, but she has continued to consistently ride winners. Today she got two more, first on Miracle Party (Biwa Shinseiki) in race 2 (for Korea’s only female trainer, Lee Shin Young) and then in the last on Cheopgyeong (Vicar).

Kim and Lee are at the forefront of the new wave of very good young riders at Seoul (so far it’s not been repeated so much at Busan) and look on course to become the first Korean women to really break through to challenge the top riders for the top rides.

While the official feature race at Seoul was won by favourite Khanui Huye (The Groom Is Red) most eyes were on race 9 and the fourth appearance for the as yet unbeaten US import Grand Niner (Any Given Saturday).

He’s still unbeaten. Under Oh Kyoung Hoan, he led from gate to wire and while the jockey did chosse to give him some reminders in the home straight, he recorded a relatively comfortable two length win.

Runner-up was in the 1900 metre race was Es Four (Smarty Jones). There is currently only one other horse by Smarty Jones running in Korea and while Smarty Moonhak’s connections will not be overly intimidated by what they saw today, if Grand Niner continues to improve, he will be competing at the highest level very soon.

* South African Gerrit Schlechter was unable to land a winner on his first weekend of riding at Busan, however, Japanese newcomer Yukio Abe was on target, guiding Lunar Spike (Malibu Moon) to a battling victory in race 3.

* Busan’s co-feature race went the way of US four-year old Viva Ace (Macho Uno) – his eigth win in sixteen starts.

Weekend Preview

Useung Touch Is Back / Jumong Carries Big Weight At Seoul / Grand Niner Bids For Fourth Win

It’s set to be the warmest weekend of the year so far and we’ve got plenty to keep us occupied across the peninsula.

Oaks Winner: Useung Touch is back at Busan this weekend

South African jockey Gerrit Schlechter will make his Busan debut on Friday and has a promising book of rides across the weekend including on Peter Wolsley’s Pnata Rhei (Stormy Atlantic) in Sunday’s feature.

That race sees 2011 Korean Oaks winner Useung Touch (Menifee) make her first appearance of the season while the impressive late developer Quantum (Ecton Park) is among a host of well-known names being dropped back for a a rare chance to race for a big prize over 6 furlongs.

Up at Seoul, there are class 1 tests on both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday’s looks more interesting with top weight Jumong (Johar) heading a reasonably challenging field that includes one-time Grand Prix Stakes runner-up Larrycat (Fantasticat) as well as the now past his best former Grand Prix winner Bally Brae (Yarrow Brae).

On Sunday at Seoul, plenty of eyes will be on US import Grand Niner (Any Given Saturday) who will be bidding to make it four wins from four starts in race 9.

Meanwhile down on Jeju Island, the ponies have one of their biggest races of the year in the shape of the Halla Ilbo Cup on Saturday afternoon.

Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday April 13

Busan Race Park: 10 races from 12:00 to 18:00
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 13:30 to 17:30

Saturday April 14

Seoul Race Park: 12 races from 11:00 to 17:40
Jeju Race Park: 9 races from 12:20 to 17:10

Sunday April 15

Seoul Race Park: 10 races from 11:00 to 17:40
Busan Race Park: 6 races from 12:15 to 16:40