Winner’s Man will aim to cement his place in Korea racing history at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon as he bids to win the President’s Cup (2000M KOR-G1) and become the first horse to complete a career “Grand Slam” of Group 1 victories.
There are only five (local) Group 1 races in Korea. With the Korea Sprint being run on the same day as the Korea Cup, it is generally accepted within the racing community that only one of that pair is required to achieve a Grand Slam. Winner’s Man won the Korean Derby in 2021, and then the Korea Cup and the Grand Prix Stakes in 2022 and the only one that eludes him is the President’s Cup.
Winner’s Man is already the sole horse to have won three different Group 1’s. Triple Nine won four President’s Cups and a Grand Prix, but he didn’t win the Derby. Power Blade won the Derby and the Grand Prix, but he didn’t win a President’s Cup. Gyeongbudaero, Indie Band (President’s Cup and Grand Prix) and Moonhak Chief (Korea Cup and Grand Prix) are the others who have won two different Group 1 races.
The Slam would already be complete had Winner’s Man been able to convert 1.3 favourite status into victory in this race a year ago. It was not to be that day as he could only manage 3rd place as Raon First became the first filly or mare to win a President’s Cup. 2021 winner Simjangui Godong was 2nd. Both return to try to thwart Winner’s Man again. This year’s Triple Tiara winner Jeulgeounyeojeong as well as Korean Derby victor Global Hit, will also be in attendance.
It has been an up and down season for Winner’s Man, who suffered two defeats at the hands of Tuhonui Banseok in the Stayer Series. He then returned to form with 3rd place behind Japan’s Crown Pride and Gloria Mundi in the Korea Cup and then overturned the form on Tuhonui Banseok (as an overseas bred, ineligible for the President’s Cup) to win the KRA Cup Classic in October.
Winner's Man, picture Korea Racing Authority
Sixteen are set to line up for the President’s Cup, which is race 8 on an 11-race program at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday and the favourite has drawn wide. Here is a full rundown of the field. All are Korean bred:
1. FLYING THE CHAMP – Runner up to Captain Yankee in last year’s Minister’s Cup over this course and distance and a winner of four from eleven. He races for the first time since April though and this is a monumental ask first-up.
2. GLOBAL HIT – Winner of two legs of the Triple Crown, the Derby and Minister’s Cup both at this course, the latter at this distance. Midfield finish in the Korea Cup. Loads of talent and gets a weight allowance as a three-year-old and tactically versatile. One of the main dangers to Winner’s Man.
3. GALAXY ROAD – A strong class 1 win over this distance in a quick time at Busan in September gets him his chance here. Goes best when on pace and is nicely drawn to get a good position and will have supporters on a place line.
4. JEONGMUN SAI – More than two years since his last win but he regularly picks up a cheque at class 1 level. From a good draw he should be on pace, but at level weights, this looks hard.
5. VICS GO – Stepped into the elite level in the KRA Cup Classic where he was 6th of ten but he was twenty-lengths behind Winner’s Man which gives some idea of the task facing him here. Another on pace type who can stay ahead of plenty, if not the favourite.
6. EODIGANA – Enters off 5th place in the Jeju Governor’s Cup at 1400M and then 7th in the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup at 2000M, both Queens’ Tour races. Likes to settle back and run on and should pass some but not a winning contender.
7. HEUNGHAENG JILJU – Solid class 1 campaigner who has just been found wanting whenever tried at the elite level. He comes in having won a valuable trophy race over 1700M on international weekend and he merits a place chance here.
8. SPEED YOUNG – A lot of as yet unfulfilled potential for last year’s champion juvenile. He was 2nd to stablemate Global Hit in the Minister’s Cup and then dominated a class 2 field over 1800M in September, making all. Gets a weight allowance and could be a chance.
9. DONGTEUJA BOY – Stablemate of Jeulgeounyeojeong, he was a class 1 winner at 1400M in July but finished down the field on his latest effort over a mile in October. Others favoured here.
10. HANEUL JEONSA – Still at class 2 level rating wise although enters in good form with two wins from his last four. Has a fast final furlong average time and the step up to 2000M may suit, but he will be one of the outsiders.
11. JEULGEOUNYEOJEONG – She swept all three legs of the Triple Tiara in fine style and followed it up by beating the boys at class 1 level and then taking out the Jeju Governor’s Cup in September. She did though look a little flat when 3rd in the Gyeongnam Governor’s Cup. In terms of her ability the sky is the limit and she could even win, but has a long hard season started to catch up with her given she only comes in off three weeks of rest from a difficult race?