The Asia Challenge Cup was further expanded in 2014 when horses from Singapore were also included.
By 2016 quarantine protocols had been established with Japan, Singapore, the UAE and HK, while substantial progress has been made on protocols with the EU.
The main aim however has always been to host an international race that would be open to more countries, as well as being able to offer substantial prize money.
In 2015, a new isolation stabling complex was built at the Seoul Racecourse in the suburb of Gwacheon, Korea’s largest thoroughbred track, also known as LetsRun Park. These isolation stables can accommodate horses from five countries or regions and are double vector-proof as well as fully air-conditioned.
With the final hurdles out of the way, the KRA recently joined forces with Keeneland and the 1 Billion KRW (approximately $882,000) Korean G1 Keeneland Korea Cup, run on sand over 1800m, will form part of an International Day of racing at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday, September 11th, 2016. The race card will also feature the 700 million KRW Korean G1 Keeneland Korea Sprint over 1200m, also on sand.
The inaugural running of both races will be invitational races, with runners from seven countries with whom quarantine protocols have been established, expected to be on the invite list. According to KRA Executive Director for Racing Yangtae Park, the aim is for both races to achieve International Group status within the very near future.
“Following our recent promotion to Part II and our successful hosting of international races with Japan and Singapore over the past three years, we are delighted to present the inaugural Keeneland Korea Cup, the most valuable race ever to be run in Korea,” said Park.
“Over the coming years, we plan to build this event into one of the top weekends of international racing in Asia. Racing in Korea is developing quickly and through the Keeneland Korea Cup we hope to give our racing fans the opportunity to see high-quality international racing here in Seoul and also demonstrate our commitment to the racing world to internationalizing Korean racing.”
“Keeneland is pleased to team with KRA in this exciting new racing endeavour,” Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason said.
“For many years, Keeneland has enjoyed a successful partnership with Korea and its horsemen through our premier horse sales. We now look forward to supporting the KRA as they prepare to welcome the world to Seoul,” he said.