Some 44,690 Korean racegoers were treated to top-line Asian International racing when Japan’s Chrysolite, ridden by ‘Joe’ Kanichiro Fujii, scored a convincing six length victory over fellow Japanese Kurino Star O in the Keeneland sponsored Korea Cup 1800m on dirt at Seoul Racecourse.
Korea’s fancied Triple Nine and Power Blade were third and fourth respectively with France’s Moroccan-bred Famous Mark, trained by Pascal Bary at Chantilly, finishing fifth.
Australian expatriate Jane Chapple-Hyam’s British all-weather specialist Solar Deity, ridden by Darryl Holland, was next of the international visitors in the 16 horse field, followed by Need To Know from Dubai trained by Ali Rashid Rayhi and ridden by Tadhg O’Shea.
Chrysolite and Korea’s NZ-bred Infantry were all the rage with Seoul’s 124,900 on-course and off-course betting fraternity with a total of 4.8 billion Won (A$5.6 million) wagered on the Cup. Korea has greatly benefited from Hong Kong’s international experience with local punters that turnover, attendance and branding are important.
Chrysolite was the race favourite on the strength of having won over 2400m in March. This was the 6yo fifth career win for trainer Hidetaka Otonashi and he is by Japan’s leading dirt sire Gold Allure, a son of Sunday Silence, a top class 3,4yo dirt performer winning the Gr1 February Stakes over 1800m.
Hong Kong sprinter Super Jockey was outstanding in winning the Keeneland Korea Sprint of 1200m by four lengths from the Korean outsider Macheon Bolt, trainer by former Australian Peter Wolsley, with the Japanese Good Brandy, a half-length away in third.
The former duel US Group 1 winner Wild Dude started even-money favourite on having won the Gr2 Kona Gold Stakes at Santa Anita at his previous start when trained by Jerry Hollendorfer. However he was never in contention and finished ninth.
Now trained by Michael Halford of Ireland, Wild Dude had exceptional form on winning the Gr1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship Stakes and Gr1 Bing Crosby Stakes at Del Mar last season. The Japanese sprinter Million Volts was the best of the internationals in finishing fifth with Supreme Winner from Singapore and Dubai’s Beachy Head and Art Wave further afield.
Super Jockey is trained by the former South African champion trainer Tony Millard, who also prepared the twice Hong Kong Horse of The Year Ambitious Dragon. Super Jockey was also bred in New Zealand being by the duel US Group 3 winner Sandtrap, a successful son of Irish River.
Such was the local enthusiasm of Korea’s Macheon Bolt second placing, aided by jockey Lee Hee-Cheon excellent ride, that the owners are now being asked to consider him as Korea’s next representative at the Dubai World Cup Carnival or the Japan-Korea Sprint at Ohi in November.
The Keeneland Associations sponsorship of the Korea Cup and Korea Sprint highlighted the two day meeting as a true global sporting event, with additional trophy races run in association with Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau and Horse Racing Ireland.
The Kentucky Thoroughbred Association and Keeneland Association can surely be congratulated for their foresight in the early 2000’s that has lifted the standard of the Korean thoroughbred to international standards. Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and Japan have always played an important role in exporting bloodstock to Korea.
Korea’s adventure into international racing was highlighted earlier this year at the Dubai World Cup Carnival with Success Story finishing third to California Chrome, the 2014 US Horse of The Year and Kentucky Derby winner, in the Trans Gulf Electromechanical Trophy at Meydan.
Success Story went to Dubai the winner of 10 of his 18 starts up to 2000m in Korea, trained by Jang G Min in Busan for owned Mr Lee Jong Hun. Power Pack, his dam, was originally purchased at the 2008 Kenneland November Breeding Stock Sale for $15,000 by Korean agent Lee Gwan Hyeop.
Owned by Mr Lee Kwang Lim in Korea Power Pack foaled Success Story in 2011 from a mating with Peace Rules, the Haskell Invitational and Suburban Handicap winner, standing at the KRA Jegu Stud Farm in Korea having originally stood at Vinery Stables in Florida.
Korea previously entered the international racing world in August 2014 with the inaugural running of the Asia Challenge Cup at Seoul Racecourse to become Korea’s first International invitation horse race.
Sponsored by the television sports network SBS the 1400 metre event was won by Singapore’s top-line sprinter El Padrino, trained by Alwin Tan, by two lengths from the Korean challengers Wonder Bolt and New York Blue in a record time of 1-23.8min.
The American-bred Wonder Bolt was Korea’s best performer and a convincing winner of his previous two starts. The 3yo filly New York Blue was one of the two runners from Busan Racecourse, also bred in America. The Japanese visitors Toshi Gang Star and Pierre Tiger finished fourth and fifth.
The Asia Challenge Cup was telecasted live to Singapore where it made up part of the Kranji race meeting. Regular simulcast broadcasting to Singapore had commenced earlier in the summer.
The Korea Racing Authority has long intended ‘to host international races in order to provide high quality races for local racing fans, to produce stronger and faster Korean-bred horses and to promote horse racing as a sport,’ not just as a gambling medium. In 2013 three Japanese runners from the Ohi Racecourse competed against 11 Korean horses in the SBS ESPN Goodwill Cup, the first Korean invitational race.