The six-year-old struck the front 300m from home and eased to a dominant six-length win to eclipse the achievement of Dangdae Bulpae, who won three straight editions of the nation’s biggest race for domestically-bred horses between 2012 and 2012.
At a packed Seoul Racecourse on a bright autumn afternoon, Triple Nine was sent off as the odds-on favourite for the 2000m test which for the past fifteen years has decided the Champion Korean bred horse of the year and has also been when the season’s three-year-old Classic winners face the best older horses for the first time.
So it was to be this time with Ecton Blade and World Sun, winners of the Korean Derby and Minister’s Cup respectively both taking their chance. However, neither was able to show very much.
Ecton Blade, a stablemate of Triple Nine, was hindered by a wide draw and was scarcely involved while World Sun, a closer, did eventually arrive on the scene but far too late. Other fancied contenders Cheonji Storm and Gangtoma also offered little. Instead it was left to Gasokbulpae, more noted as a sprinter and sent off at odds in excess of 90/1 and who set a game pace throughout, and Yaho Sky Cat, a 130/1 outsider to get the closest, eventually finishing in 3rd and 2nd respecitively. Another long-shot, Ultra Rocket was 4th.
They might as well have been in a different race to Triple Nine. Kim Young-Kwan’s stable star settled in midfield and gradually improved down the back straight before being shaken up by jockey Lim Sung Sil on the turn for home.
From then on it was inevitable and Triple Nine duly took a stranglehold on the race in the home straight.
The margin on the line was six-lengths, the widest of Triple Nine’s President’s Cup wins. The time was his second quickest, half a second slower than last year’s. Then though he had Power Blade to contend with. While this year’s competition may not have been the strongest, the sheer consistency of Triple Nine over the past three years, as well as his exploits in Dubai in 2017, surely takes him to the top of the all-time ranks of Korean-bred horses, even ahead of the 2016 Triple Crown winner.
Bred by Isidore Farm on Jeju Island, Triple Nine has won 14 of his 30 races in Korea and placed 3rd and 4th in the first two editions of the Korea Cup. For trainer Kim Young-Kwan it was a record fourteenth Group 1 winner while for jockey Lim Sung Sil, it was a fifth G1. Three of those have now been on Triple Nine in the President’s Cup while he matched his mount’s achievement having also ridden Indie Band to win the race in 2013.
The Grand Prix Stakes is a possibility next month and given Triple Nine’s career to date, a return next year for a previously unthinkable fifth President’s Cup is surely not impossible.