Watts Village

Singapore’s El Padrino On For Korea Return In Asia Challenge Cup

El Padrino is set to return to Korea to defend the Asia Challenge Cup at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday August 30.

El Padrino wins the 2014 Asia Challenge Cup  (Pic: Elan959)

El Padrino wins the 2014 Asia Challenge Cup (Pic: Elan959)

The 7-year-old will face a stern test in this year’s event which will be run over the shorter distance of 1200M. Scheduled to accompany him from Singapore is Daniel, who comes into the race off the back of consecutive victories, along with Huka Falls, another very solid runner.

Two are expected from Japan. Taisei Legend and Kogyo Douglas, the latter of which has run in both editions of the Interaction Cup against Korean opposition at Ohi in 2013 and 2014.

As for the home team, Wonder Bolt and New York Blue, 2nd and 3rd respectively in last year’s race, are set to go again as is Watts Village, winner of the Interaction Cup at Ohi in 2013. Oreuse, on his day Korea’s best sprinter, is also among the nomnations while Cheon Gu, who has just returned from Singapore is likely to be there too.

Singapore
El Padrino (NZ) [Mr. Nancho – Crownie (Luskin Star)] 7 G (36/10/5/4)
Daniel (NZ) [Guillotine – Tina (Danasinga)] 5 G (18/7/5/1)
Huka Falls (NZ) [Align – Diamond Lady (Senor Pete)] 6 G (37/14/2/6)

Japan
Taisei Legend (JPN) [King Kamehameha – Sharp Kick (Mejiro McQueen)] 8 H (39/9/5/2)
Kogyo Douglas (JPN) [Sterling Rose – Amore Pegasus (Mejiro Ryan)] 8 H (37/13/6/2)

Korea
Yeongung Champ (USA) [More Than Ready – Word Of Mouth (Saint Ballado)] 3 C (7/4/1/0)
New York Blue (USA) [Candy Ride – Aim For The Moon (Deputy Minister)] 4 F (19/6/8/1)
Super Gangja (USA) [Sharp Humor – Honey Fritters (Helmsman)] 5 H (24/4/8/1)
Oreuse (USA) [Smoke Glacken – Heavenly Splendor (Point Given)] 6 H (28/12/4/3)
Gabo Myeongun (USA) [Sharp Humor – Tingwithasting (Wild Rush)] 3 C (8/4/2/1)
Watts Village (USA)[Forestry – Edey’s Village (Silver Deputy)] 5 H (19/8/5/2)
Wonder Bolt (USA) [Desert Warrior – Little Champ (Great Gladiator)] 5 G (23/6/9/1)
Choegang Schiller (USA)[Artie Schiller – Changeable (Miswaki)] 4 G (12/6/2/1)
Geumbit Hwanhui (KOR) [Peace Rules – Sincheonchun (Silent Warrior)] 4 F (16/5/3/2
Bichui Jeongsang (USA) [Wildcat Heir – Persimmon Honey (Colonial Affair)] 4 F (14/5/4/2)
Cheon Gu (USA) [Old Fashioned – So Much Fun (Speightstown)] 3 C (6/4/1/1)

The Asia Challenge Cup is the showpiece even of this year’s international weekend at Seoul Racecourse on Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 August, which will also involve Trophy Exchange races with the Singapore Turf Club, Selangor Turf Club, Turkey Jockey Club and Horse Racing Ireland as well as the Asia Young Guns Jockey Challenge and the KRA Cup Classic.

Watts Village & New York Blue Claim Asia Challenge Cup Trials

Seoul and Busan Racecourses both held trials this past Sunday for the Asia Challenge Cup, the international invitational which will be run in the Korean capital at the end of August. And it was familiar names coming out on top as Watts Village and New York Blue ran out the respective winners.

Watts Village and Moon Se Young in the Munhwa Ilbo Cup winner's circle (Pic: KRA)

Watts Village and Moon Se Young in the Munhwa Ilbo Cup winner’s circle (Pic: KRA)

In the Munhwa Ilbo Cup at Seoul, there was just a nose in it as Watts Village, 2nd in the Korea/Japan Goodwill race – the forerunner of the Asia Challenge Cup – in 2013 and winner of the Interaction Cup at Ohi in Tokyo later the same year, beat out Choegang Schiller in a back and forth stretch duel that went all the way to the line. Under Moon Se Young, Watts Village had his nose in front just at the right time as the pair came home just one tenth of a second outside the track record for 1200M.

Munhwa Ilbo Cup – Seoul Racecourse – 1200M – July 12, 2015

1. Watts Village (USA) [Forestry – Edey’s Village (Silver Deputy)] – Moon Se Young – 2.2, 1.2
2. Choegang Schiller (USA) [Artie Schiller – Changeable (Misawaki)] – Lee Chan Ho – 1.3
3. Bichui Jeongsang (USA) [Wildcat Heir – Persimmon Honey (Colonial Affair)] – Choi Bum Hyun – 1.4
Distances: Nose/2.5 lengths
Also ran: 4. Joy Lucky (KOR) 5. Full Moon Party (KOR) 6. Parang Juibo (USA) 7. Cheonma (USA) 8. Seoul Jeongsang (KOR) 9. Mirae Yeongung (KOR) 10. Nolbu Manse (KOR) 11. Stan The Cameraman (USA)

At Busan, the Gukje Sinmun Cup attracted just six entrants and after a late scratching, only five took their place in the starting gate. It was another quick race and it was the filly New York Blue, 3rd in last year’s Asia Challenge Cup, who would get the better of Success Story by just under a length on the line.

Gukje Sinmun Cup – Busan Racecourse – 1200M – July 12, 2015

1. New York Blue (USA) [Candy Ride – Aim For The Moon (Deputy Minister)] – You Hyun Myung – 1.8, 1.1
2. Success Story (KOR) [Peace Rules – Power Pack (Lil’s Lad)] – Jo Sung Gon – 1.5
3. Super Gangja (USA) [Simon Pure – Honey Fritters (Helmsman)] – Choi Si Dae
Distances: 0.75 lengths/6 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Gyeongnam Sinhwa (USA) 5. Fly Top Queen (USA) SCR: Jeoldae Gunju (USA)

Both winners – and indeed the runners-up – will be expected in Seoul to take their chance against the visitors from Singapore, Japan and – with a quarantine protocol almost complete – potentially the UAE as well for the Asia Challenge Cup on August 30.

There is more Stakes action at Seoul this coming Sunday in the shape of the Minister’s Cup, the final leg of the 2015 Korean Triple Crown.

Weekend Preview: Wonder Bolt, Watts Village, Fly Top Queen in Seoul Asia Challenge Cup Rematch

Three Korean-trained horses will fly to Japan on Friday to take part in the Interaction Cup at Ohi on November 11. However, the winner of last year’s race won’t be among them. Instead Watts Village will be at home in Seoul this Sunday, taking on some of the track’s best known imports in the weekend’s feature event.

Wonder Bolt is the star attraction at Seoul this weekend (Pic: Elan959)

Wonder Bolt is the star attraction at Seoul this weekend (Pic: Elan959)

Chief among eleven rivals for Watts Village is Wonder Bolt. The 4-year-old came the closest to El Padrino in the Asia Challenge Cup at the end of the August. And while the Singapore raider claimed the track record that day, Wonder Bolt was also comfortably within the previous best mark.

The race will be run over 1700M and going around two-turns for only the 2nd time will be Fly Top Queen, still the nation’s most expensive racehorse. She was an also ran in both last year’s Interaction Cup in Tokyo and in the Asia Challenge Cup as well as finding herself beaten by both Wonder Bolt and Watts Village back in July. A return to form is overdue.

Watts Village himself returned to form at the beginning of October with a crushing win over, among others, Here He Comes and Parang Juuibo, both of whom will be on the flight tomorrow. While we wish them the best of luck in the Japanese capital, there will be those lamenting that the three who run in the Korean capital on Sunday opted against taking their chance.

There’s plenty more action across the weekend, including top sprinter Oreuse going at Busan for the first time since May. Here’s what’s happening when and where:

Friday October 31
Busan Racecourse: 11 races from 11:40 to 18:00
Jeju Racecourse: 9 races from 13:20 to 17:20

Saturday November 1
Seoul Racecourse: 12 races from 10:50 to 18:00
Jeju Racecourse: 9 races from 12:20 to 17:10

Sunday November 2
Seoul Racecourse: 11 races from 10:50 to 18:00
Busan Racecourse: 6 races from 12:45 to 17:00

Round-Up: Yeongsan II Suffers First Defeat But Watts Village Wins Prep

Queen’s Blade getting beaten in the Minister’s Cup on Sunday may have been a surprise but the Derby and Oaks winning filly’s reverse in the final Classic of the season wasn’t the biggest shock of the weekend at Seoul.

Gwanggyo Bisang - seen here after a Stakes win, became the first Korean horse to beat Yeongsan II

Gwanggyo Bisang – seen here after a Stakes win, became the first Korean horse to beat Yeongsan II

Yeongsan II had won all six of his races in Korea in dismissively easy fashion, culiminating in the Ilgan Sports Cup in September. However, on Saturday afternoon, he stepped up in class and distance and finally met his match in the shape of last year’s Ilgan winner, Gwanggyo Bisang.

Sent off as the odds on favourite, Yeongsan II set the pace under Moon Se Young and as they entered the home straight looked ready to cruise to another routine victory. That was to reckon without Gwanggyo Bisang though as while Yeongsan II was by no means slow in the final furlong, his fellow 4-year-old – depite carrying 60Kg – was able to go up a gear to reel him in and pass him to win by just under a length on the line.

The result, along with Queen’s Blade’s setback, Indie Band on the long-term injured list, and Wonder Bolt on the doubtful list, sets next month’s President’s Cup – Korea’s richest race – wide open with Busan’s Hangangui Gijeok, currently on a winning streak of seven, now the likely favourite. Gwanggyo Bisang, now with eleven wins from sixteen starts, may have to now be considered too.

Class 1 Handicap – Seoul Racecourse – 2000M – October 4, 2014

1. Gwanggyo Bisang (KOR) [Menifee – Touch Upon (Touch Gold)] – Park Tae Jong – 3.8, 1.3
2.Yeongsan II (KOR) [Menifee – Foxxy Cleo (Peintre Celbre)] – Moon Se Young – 1.2
3. Gumanseok (KOR) [Vicar – Perfect Storm (Didyme) – Ham Wan Sik 1.5
Distances: 0.75 lengths / 3 lengths – 10 ran

Another race that is on the near horizon is the Japan/Korea Interaction Cup at Tokyo Ohi on November 11. With big prizes such as the President’s Cup on offer at home in November and only Seoul horses able to make the trip, there is a diminishing pool of talent available to make the trip to defend the title so memorably won by Watts Village last year.

And it was Watts Village (Forestry) who won a preparation race for the Interaction Cup on Sunday afternoon, getting the disappointment of his performance in the Asia Challeng Cup at the end of August out of his system.

Watts Village is unlikely to go to Tokyo but back at his favourite distance of 1200M and under Moon Se Young for the very first time, the 4-year-old led from gate-to-wire to win by 7-lengths in what was one of the fastest ever recorded times over the distance at Seoul. Sing Sing Cat was 2nd with Here He Comes, who is in-line to go to Japan, a creditable 3rd.

This coming weekend it is the 2-year-olds who take centre stage with Juvenile Championship races at both Seoul and Busan. The capital hosts the Gwacheon Mayor’s Cup on Saturday with the Gyeongnam Sinmun Cup at Busan on Sunday. The best performers will re-convene in Seoul at the end of November to decided the nation’s overall champion juvenile in the Korean Breeders’ Cup.

El Padrino Historic Winner Of Inaugural Asia Challenge Cup

El Padrino showed his class with a dominant victory for Singapore in the inaugural Asia Challenge Cup at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday.

El Padrino wins the Asia Challenge Cup under David Flores (Pic: Elan959)

El Padrino wins the Asia Challenge Cup under David Flores (Pic: Elan959)

Sent off as the pre-race favourite by Korean punters, El Padrino made a steady start, settling into the middle of the pack under jockey David Flores as local contenders Fly Top Queen, Watts Village and Cowboy Son made the early pace.

Flores started to make up ground as they began the long-turn for home, improving around the outside – just like he had done on one earlier mount in a previous race. Tracking him was Lee Chan Ho on Wonder Bolt, the 3rd favourite.

It would be these two who would dominate the remainder of the race, El Padrino hitting the front just after the two-furlong pole, Flores shifting inside and then letting loose. Wonder Bolt chased gallantly on the outside but never came close to catching him

Ultimately, El Padrino would win by two lengths in a track record time of 1:23.8. Wonder Bolt also finished inside the old record, a full eight lengths ahead of 3rd placed New York Blue. The Japanese pair of Toshi Gang Star and Pierre Tiger came home in 4th and 5th.

There was disappointment for the other two Singaporean raiders; Speedy Cat and Trudeau never getting into a rhythm and coming home 9th and 10th respectively. Meanwhile, those early pace-setters and frequent rivals, Fly Top Queen and Watts Village were the last two home.

El Padrino and David Flores fly the flag in the Winner's Circle

El Padrino and David Flores fly the flag in the Winner’s Circle

The race capped an important weekend for Korean horse racing. Unprecedented work had gone into securing a quarantine protocol which would allow the Singaporean runners to visit – a similar one was completed with Japan last year and involved the creating of an expanded quarantine zone at the racecourse.

At a welcome dinner the previous evening, the Chairman of Toko City Keiba, representing Japan – where there will be a return leg for three Korean horses in November, a race won by Watts Village last year – spoke as did the Chairman of the Singapore Turf Club. The race was broadcast live to Singapore where it made up part of the Sunday card at Kranji. Regular simulcast broadcasts to Singapore – 14 races were broadcast on Saturday – also began earlier this summer and is generating a steady turnover.

At the track, the usually stuffy 6th floor was livened up by the presence of some boisterous visiting connections, especially those representing Trudeau. Even the parade ring actually looked like a big race was about to take place.

A year ago, simulcasting and an international race of this standard – even after the successful running Japan/Korea Goodwill Cup, looked an incredibly long way off. But it has happened. Even some imitators of this blog have started up. After years of nothing, progress has suddenly gathered pace.

On Sunday, the pace everyone was talking about, belonged to El Padrino.

Asia Challenge Cup 2014 – Seoul Racecourse – 1400M – Aug 31, 2014

1. El Padrino (NZ) [Mr. Nancho – Crownie (Luskin Star)] – David Flores – 2.8, 1.3
2. Wonder Bolt (USA) [Desert Warrior – Little Champ (Great Gladiator)] – Lee Chan Ho – 2.0
3. New York Blue (USA) [Candy Ride – Aim For The Moon (Deputy Minister)] – Masakazu Tanaka – 4.9
Distances: 2 lengths / 8 lengths
Also Ran: 4. Toshi Gang Star (JPN) 5. Pierre Tiger (JPN) 6. Indian Blue (KOR) 7. Chocolat Verrine (JPN) 8. Cowboy Son (USA) 9. Speedy Cat (NZ) 10. Trudeau (AUS) 11. Persia Wangja (CAN) 12. Changiparang (USA) 13. Watts Village 14. Fly Top Queen

Asia Challenge Cup: Korea vs. Japan vs. Singapore

After last summer’s successful Korea/Japan Goodwill Cup, this year the race has been extended to runners from Singapore and on August 31, three Singaporean-trained horses and three from Japan will join eight from Korea in what will be the first ever International Invitational race to be run on the peninsula. The race will be shown live on TV in Korea on the SBS Sports Channel and there will also be a live simulcast to Singapore.

Tosen Archer poses for the cameras after winning the SBS Goodwill Cup last year

Tosen Archer poses for the cameras after winning the SBS Goodwill Cup last year

The star attraction is set to be well-known Singapore based sprinter El Padrino but he will face tough competition from fellow Kranji runner Trudeau. For the home team, Watts Village, who pulled off a remarkable victory in Tokyo last November, will aim to repeat his heroics. He’ll be joined by Fly Top Queen and Wonder Bolt as well as Cowboy Son and New York Blue, who will be making the trip up from Busan.

SBS will be showing the Asia Challenge Cup live on August 31

SBS will be showing the Asia Challenge Cup live on August 31

Here’s a full run-down of the likely runners:

ASIA CHALLENGE CUP – 1400M – SEOUL RACECOURSE – AUG 31, 2014

SINGAPORE

EL PADRINO (NZ) [Mr. Nancho – Crownie (Luskin Star)] 6-year-old Gelding (28/7/5/4) – One of Asia’s top Sprinters, El Padrino won the Merlion Cup, the first leg of Singapore’s Sprint Series, in March this year. He has also run and won in Dubai. He was 6th in the Krisflyer International Sprint in May this year and his Merlion victory earned him an invitation to the Golden Shaheen at this year’s Dubai World Cup. He didn’t go but he will be looking for international glory in Seoul instead.

TRUDEAU (AUS) [Exceed And Excel – Canadian Legacy (Kris)] 7-year-old Gelding (33/7/5/9) – A surprise winner of the Garden City Trophy in Singapore last September, he followed that up with another victory a month later. He comes to Korea having won a Malaysian Group 1 race in June and with Noel “King” Callow, the winner of last year’s Seoul International Jockey Challenge, on board Trudeau could have a very good chance.

SPEEDY CAT (NZ) [Scaredee Cat – Lane Cove (Magic Of Sydney)] 6-year-old gelding (35/8/7/5) – This very experienced horse has eight career wins to his name including two at this distance, one of which was last year’s Singapore Stewards’ Cup. Yet to win in 2014 but he has gone close and can’t be ruled out.

JAPAN

CHOCOLAT VERRINE (JPN) [Gold Allure – Breezy Woods (Timber County)] 5-year-old Mare (24/6/5/3) – Runner-up in the Narashino Kirrato Sprint at Funabashi in July, Chocolat Verrine comes into this race in fine form, having finished outside the top two only once in five starts in 2014.

TOSHI GANG STAR (JPN) [Kurofune – Pisa no Birkin (Sunday Silence)] 7-year-old Horse (46/4/6/0) – A vastly experienced horse, Toshi Gang Star has two big race wins to his name. He’s only run four times so far in 2014 with a 2nd place at Ohi his best result. Returning to the track for the first time in April, a change of scenery in Seoul could be just what he needs.

PIERRE TIGER (JPN) [Cacoethes – Be Fragrant (Daitaku Helios)] 6-year-old Horse (38/13/5/4) – Recently back in action after a 5-month layoff, Pierre Tiger has two stakes wins among his thirteen career victories to date. His biggest win came in the 2012 Mile Grand Prix at Ohi. His best performance in three runs this year was a 3rd place finish over a mile at Kawasaki.

KOREA

WATTS VILLAGE (USA) [Forestry – Edey’s Village (Silver Deputy)] 4-year-old Colt (14/6/4) – Secured his place in Korean racing history by being the first Korean-trained horse to win overseas when he won the Interaction Cup at Ohi Racecourse in Tokyo last November. He was 2nd in this race last year. Recently returned after a six-month layoff, finishing 2nd behind Wonder Bolt in his first race back and should improve.

FLY TOP QUEEN (USA) [Henny Hughes – Cape Discovery (Cape Town)] 4-year-old Filly (9/6/1/1) – The most expensive racehorse ever imported to Korea, Fly Top Queen has won 6 of her 9 starts to date including the Segye Ilbo Cup this February. A very quick sprinter, she had an off-day in her last start, finishing 3rd behind Wonder Bolt and Watts Village. She can run much better than that.

WONDER BOLT (USA) [Desert Warrior – Little Champ (Great Gladiator)] 4-year-old Colt (19/5/7/1) – Currently the hottest sprinter in Seoul following his 9-length demolition of Watts Village and Fly Top Queen in mid-July. Very experienced and versatile – he was 5th in last year’s Grand Prix Stakes; he comes into this race in the form of his life.

PERSIA WANGJA (CAN) [Ghostzapper – Dynamite Dancer (Lite The Fuse)] 3-year-old Colt (10/5/1/1) – Has won his last two races, both of them at this distance and looks ready to challenge some of the more established sprinters. Like Wonder Bolt, he can run at any distance but 1400 metres is his best.

CHANGIPARANG (USA) [Touch Gold – Victory Roll (Deerhound)] 5-year-old Mare (27/2/5/3) – A reliable mare with a lot of experience under her belt but only two wins. She regularly picks up prize money but she will be a big outsider to do so here.

BICHUI JEONGSANG (USA) [Wildcat Heir – Persimmon Honey (Colonial Affair)] 3-year-old filly (6/4/2/0) – Lightly raced, Bichui Jeongsang has won four of her six starts to date including a comfortable victory in the JRA Trophy in May. She was second on her last start in June but remains one of Seoul’s most promising fillies.

COWBOY SON (USA) [Cowboy Cal – Nosmallachievement (Smart Strike)] (11/8/1/2) 3-year-old colt – Having finished third in the Busan Mayor’s Trophy in July, Cowboy Son drops back to his favored sprint distance for his first visit to Seoul. He is his sire’s highest earner anyway in the world and one of the most formidable sprinters in Korea.

NEW YORK BLUE (USA) [Candy Ride – Aim For The Moon (Deputy Minister)] (11/5/4/0) 3-year-old filly – She was second in her first Stakes race, the KNN Cup, at Busan in June and followed it up with a dominant three-length win last month against strong opposition. A likely front-runner, she could be very dangerous on her Seoul Racecourse debut.

INDIAN BLUE (USA) [Henny Hughes – Gambler’s Passion (Prospector’s Gamble)] (18/5/4/4) 4-year-old filly – Firmly as one of Seoul’s top horses at any distance, her win record doesn’t reflect her true ability. She was 2nd in last year’s KRA Cup Classic and 4th in the Grand Prix Stakes. She beat Watts Village earlier this year and, while she may not be able to win this, she could be close.

Wonder Bolt Crushes Fly Top Queen, Watts Village in Asia Challenge Cup Trial

Wonder Bolt shook up the sprint division with an emphatic win over Fly Top Queen and the returning Watts Village in a trial for August’s Asia Cup Challenge race at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday night.

While Watts Village, who memorably won the Japan/Korea Interaction Cup at Tokyo Ohi last year, was returning form a 6-month lay-off and was not expected to be at 100%, Fly Top Queen, Korea’s most expensive imported racehorse, had looked in imperious form when dominating over the same 1400M distance a month ago.

Fly Top Queen was duly sent off as the odds-on favourite but Wonder Bolt, who had sat in the middle of the pack during the early stages, surged to the front with just over a furlong to go and then produced an unanswerable sprint to win by a full 9-lengths. To compound the disappointment for Fly Top Queen backers, Watts Village got up to edge her into third place.

Wonder Bolt and Lee Chan Ho, seen here winning a previous race in May (Pic: Elan959*)

Wonder Bolt and Lee Chan Ho, seen here winning a previous race in May (Pic: Elan959*)

The Asia Challenge Cup is scheduled to be run at Seoul Racecourse on August 31 and is set to involve 3 horses from Singapore and 3 horses from Japan. An encouragingly large number of nominations from Singapore have been received, all of them for horses with ratings in excess of 100. Japan – chastened perhaps after Watts Village’s 100/1 triumph in Tokyo – has also indicated that they plan to send stronger horses than last time, when they won the Seoul leg of the race with Tosen Archer.

This means that Korea needs all its A-listers on their game if they are to compete. With Busan horses currently still not eligible to run, the focus has been on Fly Top Queen – and Yeongsan II if connections can be persuaded to take a sporting chance. Wonder Bolt may just have shot to the top of the list.

Class 1 – Seoul Racecourse – 1400M – July 20, 2014

1. Wonder Bolt (USA) [Desert Warrior – Little Champ (Great Gladiator)] – Lee Chan Ho – 4.4, 1.4
2. Watts Village (USA) [Forestry – Edey’s Village (Silver Deputy)] – Seo Seung Un – 1.7
3. Fly Top Queen (USA) [Henny Hughes – Cape Discovery (Cape Town)] – Moon Se Young – 1.0

Distances: 9 lengths/1 length – 10 ran.

*Picture from the very excellent Elan959 blog