Hopes were high for a first domestic winner of the Korea Cup a month ago, but they were firmly dashed by the sensational performance of Japan’s London Town. The 2nd and 4th place-getters that day, Dolkong and Cheongdam Dokki return to face off again in the Group 2 KRA Cup Classic over 2000M at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon.
Cheongdam Dokki was the host nation’s big hope last month but after leading in the early part of the race, was left behind by London Town at the halfway point and ultimately finished in 4th place. Australian trainer Simon Foster’s Dolkong, however, was the revelation of the race when making just his second start after a lengthy spell out through injury and being ridden patiently to 2nd place.
For the first time in the race’s history, Busan horses have been invited to take part. The South-Coast track only sends two but what a pair they are with Triple Nine and Doraonpogyeongseon, both multiple Stakes winners in Seoul, making the trip up. Triple Nine is a three-time President’s Cup winner and while he was defeated by Cheongdam Dokki in the Busan Mayor’s Cup this summer, can’t be ruled out.
Superstar mare Silver Wolf also runs as do the up and coming pair of Mighty Ssing and Moonhak Chief. The race is at 4.45pm local time on Sunday.
Dolkong, picture Korea Racing Authority
Early Selections: (3) Cheongdam Dokki (6) Triple Nine (5) Dolkong (4) Silver Wolf
KRA Cup Classic (KOR G2) 2000M Weight for Age / KRW 500 Million
1. MIGHTY SSING – Saw his four-race winning streak come to an end when 2nd to Doraonpogyeongseon in the Busan Owners’ Cup at the end of July. He’s only three and has won at 1900M. This might be a little bit too much too soon, but he has plenty of potential for development.
2. MOONHAK CHIEF – Another up and comer with six wins from eleven starts so far, most recently at class 1 over 1800M on September 1st. His previous experience of this distance was when ten-lengths behind Cheongdam Dokki in the YTN Cup in May and while he’s not ready not overturn that form, could get closer this time.
3. CHEONGDAM DOKKI – The defending champion came into the Korea Cup as indisputably Korea’s best horse but was found wanting when London Town brutalized the field for the second year running. We’ll draw a line though it though as he at least went down trying to win by making the early running and paid for that late on and this race will likely have a very different pattern. He’s got a great draw which should allow him a soft lead and he’s very much in the frame to retain his crown.
4. SILVER WOLF – The nation’s top mare beat Power Blade and Doraonpogyeongseon to win the Busan Ilbo Cup back in April but has come up short in two Group races since, the SBS Sports Sprint and Busan Owners’ Cup, both time behind Doraonpogyeongseon. Hugely versatile, she won the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup at this distance last autumn but that was against fillies and mares only. She’s a strong finisher and it would be a surprise were she to be outside the money, but also a surprise were she to win.
5. DOLKONG – A facile winner on his return from a lengthy injury absence in August before running 2nd under a patient ride in the Korea Cup. True, he finished in a different area code to winner London Town, but he beat some very good horses. A rival of Cheongdam Dokki when they were juveniles, the pair renewing hostilities here makes for a fascinating contest. This is the true test of his credentials.
6. TRIPLE NINE – The three-time President’s Cup winner races for the first-time since running 3rd to Cheongdam Dokki in the Busan Mayor’s Cup on July 1st. This is his distance though – he hasn’t been beaten at it in Korea since July 2015. He can take a long time to hit top gear but if he’s in the hunt a furlong out, then he’s still the one they’ll need to beat.
7. SINJO DAEHYEOP – This is his first start since running 4th behind Cheongdam Dokki in the Herald Business Cup all the way back in April. Prior to that, he made all to win a class 1 handicap over 2300M. Likely to be on pace again today, this is going to be difficult first-up but some minor prize -money isn’t impossible.
8. DORAONPOGYEONGSEON – Two-time winner of the SBS Sports Sprint and twice runner-up in the Korea Sprint most recently last month. Keyword here is “sprint”. He’s never raced at this distance and two tries at 1800M didn’t go well. However, he surprised plenty by winning the Busan Owners’ Cup over a mile this summer and he does go well on this track. Would be a surprise were he to beat the favourites, but he can’t be totally ruled out of putting in a performance.
9. CHEONJEOK – Enterprising connections who always have a go if given the opportunity, however, he last won eighteen months ago and hasn’t been in the money at all since June last year. Has no chance here.