Historic double for Korea
Korean racing celebrated an historic racing double at the end of August with Korean apprentice Dong Soo Kim winning the 7th Asian Young Guns Challenge and Choegang Schiller (USA) ridden by Lee Chang Ho becoming the first ever Korean trained winner of the Asia Challenge Cup.
The Asian Young Guns Challenge was the opening event of the International Racing Festival at Seoul Racecourse, which also included trophy exchange races with a number of other Asian Racing Federation racing authorities and the KRA Cup Classic, before culminating in the Asia Challenge Cup.
Saturday August 29th saw apprentices from nine Asian Racing Federation countries take part in the Asian Young Guns Challenge.
Australia was represented by Jye McNeil with Jack Wong riding for Hong Kong, while Japan and Korea each had two representatives in Fuma Matsuwaka and Tsubasa Sasagawa and Dong Soo Kim and Hee Won Jo. Yee Mo Choi and Wong Kam Chong represented Macau and Malaysia respectively, while the rest of the challengers were Joshua Oliver for New Zealand, Zhi Yong See riding for Singapore and Craig Zackey representing South Africa.
The first round went to Korea with Dong Soo Kim riding the favourite Nabom to a commanding six length victory, while Jack Wong (Hong Kong) steered Muhandoma into second. Yee Mo Choi (Macau) snatched victory in round two on Hwanggeum Sesang, but sadly it was his last ride as he was stood down due to exhaustion. Choi’s retirement left the door open for Kim and the Korean apprentice made no mistakes on Ganginhae in the third, with Tsubasa Sasagawa (Japan) on Eutteum Wangja finishing second.
Round Four was the Singapore Turf Club Trophy and while the victory went to Jack Wong on Yeondu, Kim cemented his position as overall winner with a second on the 70/1 long shot Gasok Bisang. The victory was enough to ensure second place overall for Jack Wong, while Jye McNeil (Australia) finished in third.
A strong international contingent from Singapore and Japan travelled to Seoul earlier in the week for the Asia Challenge Cup over 1200m to be run on Sunday afternoon.
Kranji trainer Alwin Tan was very confident that his defending champion El Padrino (NZ) was capable of retaining the crown, but he also sent out Happy Moments (AUS) under Joseph See, while the third Singapore entrant, Valevole (BRZ), in the capable hands of Barend Voster was Brian Dean’s first international runner. Taisei Legend (JPN) ridden by veteran Fumio Matoba and Kogyo Douglas (JPN) with Takehiro Kashigawa in the saddle represented Japan.
But it was all to no avail as Lee Chang Ho and Choegang Schiller stole a march on the field, skipping clear to win by two lengths, setting a new track record. El Padrino under a driving ride by Oscar Chavez was valiant in defeat, but the day belonged to Korea and Choegang Schiller. Cheon Gu ridden by Yoo Seung Wan finished in third a further 1.75 lengths back.
Rounding off an extraordinary International Racing Festival, jockey Park Eul Woon celebrated the biggest victory of his 19-year career, as Chief Red Can (USA), trained by Park Chun Seo dominated the Korean Group 2 KRA Cup Classic over 2000m. Despite racing at the back of the field in the early stages, Chief Red Can displayed a blistering turn of foot in the home straight to win by a convincing three lengths from Clean Up Cheonha (USA), with Unbeatable (USA) a further three lengths back in third.