Korean Dubai hero Dolkong returns home and old rival Cheongdam Dokki returns to winners circle

A day after Korean racing welcomed back the well-performed Dolkong (USA) from the Dubai World Cup Carnival a home rival Cheongdam Dokki (USA) put down a marker by returning to the winner’s circle in emphatic style as he successfully retained the KRW250m, (K)listed Herald Business Trophy (2000m) at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon.

Cheongdam Dokki winning at Seoul, picture Korean Racing Authority
Cheongdam Dokki winning at Seoul, picture Korean Racing Authority

Trained by Simon Foster, Dolkong made his Carnival-bow in the 1st round of the Al Maktoum Challenge when the pace over 1600m set by North America was too hot for him at a distance shorter than he would prefer. The five-year-old ran on well though and got much closer when stepped up to 2000m in handicap company at the end of January, finishing a close 3rd to Salterin Dubai.

Dolkong turned the table on that horse and made no mistake in the Listed Curlin Handicap on February 28th at Meydan, cruising away from the field in the final 200m to score by a full nine-lengths. It was a second win by a Korea-trained horse in the Carnival, following Main Stay’s victory two years ago and earned the Korea Cup runner-up the right to stay on in Dubai to take his chance on Super Saturday.

Although well-beaten in the Group 1 Dubai World Cup itself, Dubai was a meritious campaign for Dolkong flying the Korean flag at the international carnival.

Dolkong has somewhat usurped Cheongdam Dokki, who has both beaten and been beaten by since in several meetings since they started racing each other as juveniles in 2016.

On Sunday, making his second start for trainer Luigi Riccardi and piloted by Antonio Da Silva, the five-year-old Cheongdam Dokki was sent off a prohibitive favourite for the Trophy race. He duly obliged, putting his rivals to the sword in the back straight before cruising home for an easy five-length victory.

After finishing second in the Grand Prix Stakes in December, Cheongdam Dokki had three months off and moved barns in the process. He was not at his best on his return in the Owners’ Association Trophy over 1200m a month ago but looked on fine form here, registering a fast time of 2.06.00 for the distance under 59kg. The up-and-comer Moonhak Chief (USA) ran second, just pipping Shamrocker (USA) by a half-length.

It was a thirteenth win for Cheongdam Dokki on his twenty-second career start. He had only once run faster at the distance, when winning the KRA Cup Classic in 2017, but that was when carrying just 55kg. It was faster than any of Triple Nine’s four President’s Cup wins at this distance and in big races, only Dongnanui Gangja, in the Owner’s Cup in 2009 (when that race was at 2000m), has actually gone quicker and that mark is still the track record – but the track was wet and fast that day.

For trainer Luigi Riccardi, it was a first win at Listed or Graded level in Korea. For jockey Antonio Da Silva, it was a fourth Listed triumph. Last year after winning this race, Cheongdam Dokki proceeded to the YTN Cup, which he also won in a facile manner. This year’s renewal of the Group 3 event is on Sunday May 26th.

It will probably be too soon for Dolkong, so if he makes to the line, it will be odds-on another masterclass from Cheongdam Dokki.