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.