Eight international runners have been invited to participate in the headline race; the 1 billion won KOR Group 1 Keeneland Korea Cup (1800m) on sand. They will be joined by up to eight Korean-trained runners. It is the first time that Hong Kong, France, the UK, Ireland and the UAE are sending runners to Korea.
The international contingent include Gun Pit (AUS) [Dubawi – Magic Tori (Ali-Royal)], a 6-year-old gelding trained by Casper Fownes for owner Cheng Chung Wah and Chrysolite (JPN) [Gold Allure – Chrysoprase (El Condor Pasa)], a 6 year old entire, trained by Hidetaka Otonashi and owned by U Carrot Farm.
Chrysolite is a former winner of the Japan Dirt Derby, while globetrotting Gun Pit, a Sha Tin dirt superstar, is practically unbeatable on his favourite surface, finishing second in the Al Maktoum Challenge R3 at Meydan.
Singapore has two entries with the four-year-old Infantry (NZ) [Tavistock – The Nightingale (Stravinsky)] flying the flag for trainer Tan Hai Wang, while Koh Chor Yung is hoping 6-year-old Order Of The Sun (AUS) [Encosta De Lago – Sequin (Lure)] can bring home the Cup.
Order Of The Sun had been entered in the Dubai Sheema Classic, Dubai Turf and Dubai Gold, but travel plans had to be cancelled at the last minute due to a strangles outbreak. Hence Koh is looking forward to having his first overseas runner, although he is the first to admit that his charge faces strong competition from the local and international runners.
UAE owner Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed Al Maktoum is the only international owner with two runners in the race.
Gold City (IRE) [Pivotal – Storm Lily (Storm Cat)] trained by Satish Seemar and Need To Know (SAF) [Western Winter – Promisefrommyheart (Elliodor)] trained by Ali Rashid Al Raihe, competing for the UAE, will both be carrying his colours.
Seven-time all-weather winner Solar Deity, trained by Jane Chapple-Hyam, is a late British replacement, as Franklin D sadly suffered an injury during recent morning trackwork.
Famous Mark, a Moroccan bred who won all six of his races at Rabat and Casablanca before joining up with Pascal Bary in France, completes the field.
The 700 million Won KOR Group 1 Keeneland Korea Sprint (1200m) on dirt has also attracted well-known names such as Group 1 winner Rich Tapestry (IRE). Trained by C Chang the eight-year-old Rich Tapestry is a seasoned traveller having won the Group 1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship and the Group 3 Al Shindagha Sprint at Meydan.
Another strong contender is the Tony Millard trained Super Jockey (NZ) [Sandtrap – Pennies In Heaven (Pompeii Court)], owned by Tony Lau Yiu Tong & Thomas Lau Sum Fai. Super Jockey beat Rich Tapestry when 2nd in the 2015 Golden Shaheen at Meydan and has solid though limited dirt form.
Wild Dude (USA) [Wildcat Heir – Courtly Choice (Doneraile Court)] trained by Jerry Hollendorfer recently moved to Michael Halford in Ireland and this will be the entire’s first run for his new trainer. Wild Dude won his last start, the Kona Gold Stakes at Santa Anita on dirt.
Louis Baudron’s Love Spirit (GB) [Elusive City – Indian Maiden (Indian Ridge)] and Ross Castle (IRE) [Bushranger – Bulrushes (Byron)], trained and owned by Matthieu Palussiere, are the two French entrants in the Sprint. Ross Castle recently won the Group 3 Prix Texanita on dirt, while Love Spirit is a seven-time winner with a recent second in the Prix de Ris-Orangis.
The rest of the internationals include Shadai Race Horse Co. Ltd’s Grape Brandy trained by Takayuki Yasuda, Singapore runner Super Winner, trained by Theo Kieser and Musabah Al Muhairi’s Art Wave, from the UAE.