Global Chukje dominant in Korean Triple Crown 1st Leg and First Nominations for Kranji Mile

If there is to be a Korean Triple Crown winner this year, his name will be Global Chukje, the colt running out a dominant winner of the 1st leg, the KRA Cup Mile at Busan on Sunday, April 7th, 2019.

Global Chukje, picture Korea Racing Authority
Global Chukje, picture Korea Racing Authority

The Rock Hard Ten Colt, trained at Seoul by Choi Sang-sik, entered the race having won four of his previous five starts and was sent off as the 5/1 co-favourite. Drawn in gate 10, Global Chukje was able to avoid a coming together at the start that disadvantaged a number of those on his inside and, under jockey Yoo Seung-wan, was able to take up a position just off the lead.

When early leader Lion Sun started to weaken on the turn, Global Chukje assumed command and never looked like being caught, running on to win by a full eight lengths on the line. Filly Dae Wan Ma came home in 2nd under Antonio Da Silva and now looks a strong favourite for the Korean Oaks, while betting favourite Precede came home 4th, one place ahead of stablemate Glitter.

Disappointment of the race was Doctor Thunder, who started the race as co second-favourite but after showing towards the front early on, weakened to finish last.

The race time of 1:40.5 was exactly the same as Power Blade’s in 2016 and ranks exactly in the middle of average times for this race. The margin of victory was the biggest since Money Car’s eleven-length romp in 2011. Global Chukje is the first Seoul-trained horse to win the race, since Cheongnyeong Bisang in 2014.

For trainer Choi Sang Sik, it was a second Group win, his first coming in the Seoul Owners’ Cup all the way back in 1995, although he did win the Listed Segye Ilbo Cup for the same owner, Jang Jae-hyeung, with Global Fusion in 2016. For jockey Yoo Seung-wan, it was his first Classic victory, however, as regular rider of the great mare Silver Wolf, he is no stranger to the Graded Stakes winner’s circle.

Global Chukje is by Rock Hard Ten and out of the Forest Camp mare Spin Up. Spin Up did her racing in Korea, winning three of eighteen career starts between 2011 and 2013. She began prodigiously, winning two of her first three but failed to win after the January of her three-year-old season. Her only previous foal, only raced twice.

Of the eleven previous winners since the Cup Mile became the first leg of the Triple Crown in 2008, two of them have gone on to win the Derby, Sangseung Ilro in 2009 and Power Blade on his way to sweeping the Triple Crown in 2016. This year’s Derby is at Seoul Racecourse on May 12th.

In other Asian Racing Federation country news Hong Kong runners may figure prominantly in Singapore's invitation S$1.5m, SGroup 1 Kranji Mile (1600m) to be run at Kranji on May 25th.

A total of 21 entries were received at the close of the First Nominations this week.

The four overseas entries are from Hong Kong, headed by last year’s inaugural winner, the Caspar Fownes-trained Southern Legend. Fownes, a regular visitor at the Singapore international races, especially during the Lucky Nine golden era, has also nominated Rise High while the other two nominations are Singapore Sling prepared by Tony Millard and Pingwu Spark trained by Benno Yung Tin-pang.

Southern Legend winning the 2018 Kranji Mile, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club
Southern Legend winning the 2018 Kranji Mile, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club

The highest rated among the four entries from the Club at Sports Road on 116 points, Southern Legend, a six-year-old by Not A Single Doubt, has not won again since his Kranji triumph in May 2018, but has often been placed in Sha Tin feature races, including a third place to Beauty Generation in the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Mile (1600m) in December and a second place in the Group 1 Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m) in February.

He also just contested the Grade 1 Dubai Turf (1800m) at Meydan, running a creditable sixth to Japanese champion mare Almond Eye.

Singapore Sling has long been in the mix for a shot at the international races in the country where the world-famous cocktail he is named after originates from. Millard, who saddled the Kranji Mile runner-up Horse Of Fortune for a Hong Kong quinella last year, has a high opinion of South Africa’s 2016 Grade 2 Dingaans (1600m) winner.

After the South African-bred five-year-old son of Philanthropist ran second in the 2018 Group 1 BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m), he has, however, not quite replicated that performance at subsequent Group raids, but did run a pleasing fourth to Beauty Generation in the Group 2 Chairman’s Trophy (1600m) on Sunday.
A grey six-year-old by Mastercraftsman, Pingwu Spark has long been one of fifth-season trainer Yung’s better horses, winning five races from seven starts (1200m to 1400m) at his first prep before finding the going tougher at the elite level.

A two-time winner in Ireland, Rise High is a French-bred Myboycharlie five-year-old who is a mile specialist, having recorded all his four Hong Kong wins over that trip. He ran seventh in the same Chairman‘s Trophy on Sunday.

Fresh from his recent nail-biting win in the SGroup 2 Chairman’s Trophy (1600m), Kranji’s current ratings table-topper Debt Collector (122 points) spearheads the home team challenge at that first round of free nominations.

Two other Singapore Horses of the Year also feature on the list, last year’s title holder Elite Invincible and comeback kid War Affair (2014), who is close to his Kranji return after a spell in New Zealand.

Debt Collector’s trainer Cliff Brown along with 2018 Singapore champion trainer Lee Freedman have filed the highest number of entries. Brown has also thrown in Elite Excalibur and Dicton while his Australian colleague’s trio are made up of Circuit Land and Blizzard, who not too long ago, would have carried the Bauhinia flag, and recent winner and UK import Circuit Mission.

Other notable local hopefuls are Singapore Derby winner Jupiter Gold for Hideyuki Takaoka, regular Group staple Countofmontecristo for Michael Clements and new Japanese sensation, Deep Impact entire Mikki Joy for Shane Baertschiger.

The closing date for the second round of nominations is at 12pm on April 30th, 2019.