The 38th running of the Grand Prix (KOR G1) takes place on Sunday at Seoul Racecourse. The time-honoured race has attracted a field of ten runners who will line up over the 2300m.
Dolkong has been ruled out of the race due to injury after a five-length win in the KRA Cup Classic, leaving the race wide open.
It has been ten years since a favourite has saluted in the staying feature with, the gruelling 2300M in the sand being the downfall of plenty of well-fancied top picks in recent times.
Cheongdam Dokki will tackle the race for the third straight year with connections hoping he can go one better on his runner-up performance last year behind Triple Nine, who has not graced the racetrack since. Triple Nine too four attempts in the race before he broke through for his first Grand Prix a year ago.
Cheongdam Dokki looks to have peaked at the right time coming off a 2nd place performance in the KRA Cup Classic when finishing behind Dolkong. The Luigi Riccardi trained galloper settled behind the leading division in the Classic before searching for a run at the top of the straight.
He ran on doggedly to finish 2nd whilst Dolkong was kept to the inside rail going on for a dominant win. Prior to his last run, Cheongdam Dokki finished 2nd in the Korea Cup behind Moonhak Chief.
Cheongdam Dokki, picture Korea Racing Authority
Cheongdam Dokki settled behind the pacemakers in the event before the speed slackened when jockey Moon Se-Young made a race winning move taking Moonhak Chief to the lead in the back straight.
Cheongdam Dokki did his best to reel in Moonhak Chief, steadily making ground on the winner but it was obvious at the furlong that he would have to settle for 2nd. Moonhak Chief will also line up in the Grand Prix coming off a disappointing 5th in the KRA Cup Classic when appearing one-paced through the line.
Antonio Da Silva, who rode Moonhak Chief to 2nd behind Dolkong in the Busan Mayor’s Cup in June will return to the ride replacing the currently injured Moon Se Young.
Moonhak Chief finished 2nd in last year’s Grand Prix when weakening noticeably in the final furlong.
The Australian-bred Silver Wolf is the only mare engaged in the race and she comes into the event in great form, winning all of her last five starts. Four of her past five starts have been against fillies and mare, winning them all with ease and confirming that she is by far the best mare in Korea.
She did line up against the geldings and entires in March, winning over 1200M in the Owners’ Association Trophy, a race in which Cheongdam Dokki ran 5th.
She has stepped up in distance since then, with he rmost recent win over 2000M when settling back and hitting the line strong. If Silver Wolf can win the race, she will be the first mare to take the honours since Gamdonguibada in 2012.
Busan appears best represented by Today and Great King. Five-year-old Today managed to finish 3rd in this event last year when finishing just a head behind Cheongdam Dokki.
Connections of the chestnut elected to go into the Kookje Shinmun Cup over 1400M prior to stepping up to the 2300M of the Grand Prix. The Kim Young-kwan trained galloper ran out of his skin to finish 2nd, three lengths behind stablemate Baengmunbaekdap.
Today looks the likely pacemaker from barrier two with his Busan counterpart Great King likely to work forward early as well.
Great King has won his last two starts at class 1 level over 2000M and 2200M. His victory over 2200M was impressive when leading throughout and going on to win by a five-length margin, beating New York Mangchi, who will also line up in the Grand Prix.
The remaining runners engaged are Shamrocker, Shark Daejanggeun, Jumbo Blade and Dongbang Daero, the latter runner-up in the race two years ago.
The 38th running of the Grand Prix gets underway at 4:45pm Sunday local time.
Grand Prix Stakes 2019 – Form Comments
1. SHAMROCKER – A horse with far more talent than his 6 wins from 37 starts suggests, the six-year-old has spent his career running in the best races and chasing home the best horses, first Clean Up Joy, then Cheongdam Dokki and Moonhak Chief. This is his first time in this race, but he comes in having been his usual solid self over the season. He probably can’t win this, but he will run on strong late and can run into some money. He is the only horse in the race to have won at this distance – albeit a long time ago.
2. TODAY – A revelation a year ago when 3rd to Triple Nine having briefly led close to home. He was still thought of as a sprinter then having never previously run further than a mile. He backed up his staying credentials by winning over 2000M a month later but then suffered an injury which kept him out of action until September when he returned in the Korea Sprint. That was too much too soon but he was 3rd to Dolkong and Cheongdam Dokki in the Cup Classic in October and then 2nd to stablemate Baengmunbaekdap over 1400M three weeks ago. He may be peaking at the right time. He’ll aim to lead from the start.
3. NEW YORK MANGCHI – Stablemate of Today and not to be overlooked. He has though been handily beaten by Great King of two of his latest three starts – although he did previously beat him – which suggests he may well be found wanting when facing the very best here. Distance shouldn’t be a problem – he was 2nd to Great King over 2200M in September. Capable of running fast sectionals late on but may have too much to do.
4. SILVER WOLF – The great mare. She’s a perfect five for five in 2019 although with the rules changed this year enabling her to participate in the Queens’ Tour races, she’s only faced the boys on one occasion. That was the Seoul Owners’ Association Trophy over 1200M where an out of sorts Cheongdam Dokki was among those she beat. We learned little from her three easy Queens’ Tour wins except that she is in good form. She ran in this race two years ago and found it tough but is arguably better now. A big placing chance.
5. SHARK DAEJANGGEUN – By some margin the lowest rated horse in the field although he does tend to take on stiff company. Ran a good 2nd in the JRA Trophy on international weekend in September before finishing an excellent 5th in the President’s Cup a month ago. He is a closer so the additional trip will likely suit him, but the quality of the opposition should be too much here.
6. GREAT KING – Enters in very good form having won his latest two in fine fashion leading all the way over 2200M and 2000M. with the likes of New York Mangchi, Jumbo Blade and Dongbang Daero behind him. He’ll go to the front here and while leading for the entire 2300M at Seoul is no easy task, he looks a quality horse who should go close.
7. MOONHAK CHIEF – Sixth last year, he made his breakthrough at the elite level when winning the YTN Cup by a full twelve-lengths back in May before pushing Dolkong very close in the Busan Mayor’s Cup the following month. He then beat Cheongdam Dokki to comfortably win the international Korea Cup over 1800M in September. A lackluster performance in the KRA Cup Classic in October is of some concern but if he’s at his best, he will be a big danger. Antonio Da Silva, who rode him in Busan this summer, replaces the injured Moon Se Young aboard. He’ll be challenging for the lead at the start.
8. JUMBO BLADE – A decent competitor but he has been beaten by several of these in his recent outings and form of 6th, 5th and 5th doesn’t inspire a huge amount of confidence. Likely to settle in the middle of the pack, he should see out the trip without any problems, but the competition looks too stiff.
9. CHEONGDAM DOKKI – Could it finally be his year? He has a 4th and a 2nd to his name in the race and he enters the likely favourite. He had a difficult start to the year but his performances in his latest two outings when 2nd in both the Korea Cup and the KRA Cup Classic suggest that he is – if not back to his absolute best – at least somewhere approaching it. Whereas in the past two runnings he has set the early pace, this time he’ll most likely be content to let others do the early work. He is the one to beat.
10. DONGBANG DAERO – Ran a huge 2nd to Power Blade in this race two years ago, finishing superbly and only denied a head at odds in excess of 150/1. His form since has only been patchy though and he comes in having been well beaten in his latest two. We know he likes the track and the distance suits, but it would be a big surprise were he to repeat his former heroics.