Including the host, six nations will be represented in the 1200m Korea Sprint at Seoul Racecourse on Sunday (9 September) afternoon. Hong Kong’s Fight Hero will have to overcome the widest gate (13) against eight local runners and four other overseas challengers.
Perhaps the most impressive in the build-up to the race has been US raider Chublicious. Shrugging off the marathon journey from the States – “He shipped in very well”, trainer Ron Faucheux noted at Thursday’s barrier draw – the seven-year-old gelding has cut a striking figure at trackwork each morning and with very solid dirt form in the US is now set to begin as one of the favourites for Sunday’s race. He will come out of gate 12, one inside of Fight Hero.
Few overseas jockeys know more about how to win in Korea than Japanese rider Kanichiro Fujii. Based for the majority of his career in Australia, Fujii enjoyed a hugely successful spell in Korea between 2012 and 2015. Although doing most of his riding at Busan, Fujii has ridden the winners of numerous big races at Seoul including the Korean Derby and Grand Prix Stakes. Since leaving, he has become something of a go-to man for Japanese trainers bringing their horses to Korea for international races. He rode Chrysolite to win the inaugural Korea Cup in 2016 for Japanese interests.
This year, Fujii will partner Japan’s sole representative Moanin (gate 9) in the Korea Sprint. Forced to change his travel plans after Typhoon Jebi struck Japan’s Kansai region, the jockey arrived a day later than planned. Having sat on Moanin for the first time on Thursday morning, he was confident of his chances, saying Moanin gave him “a very nice feel”.
France’s King Malpic (gate 8) and now Dubai-based multiple US-Stakes winner Wild Dude (gate 11) round-out the foreign contingent and both those two also caught the eye in work throughout the week.
Korean runners certainly got the rub of the green in the draw and for Today especially it may turn out to be vital. The Busan-based runner couldn’t catch Doraonpogyeongseon (gate 7) when drawn wide in the SBS Sports Sprint in June but coming out of gate 2 this time, he can get on the lead early and could make all. Jockey Franco Da Silva was certainly bullish about his mount’s chances.
The Fujii-Factor may be enough to get Moanin home on top, while Fight Hero will have to have things go his way from the wide gate if he is to emulate 2016 victor Super Jockey and win the prize for Hong Kong.