KOREAN RAIDERS sent to plunder at the Dubai World Cup Carnival should feel at home when running on the Meydan dirt according to the man charged with International Racing at the Korean Racing Authority (KRA). Dr Seungho Ryu was more than happy to voice his confidence about how the four runners sent by the KRA will fare in Dubai starting Thursday. Four horses left Incheon airport and reached Dubai via Frankfurt on Saturday and one of those, Ace Korea, has been declared in the 1200m Group 3 Dubawi Stakes this Thursday at Meydan.
The others, Dolkong, Choego Money and Buhwarui Banseok, will find their way into public consciousness as the carnival progresses, but if Ryu is to be believed, the quartet aren’t here to just make up numbers. Korean horses first competed in the carnival in 2016 when Cheongu and Success Story arrived, the latter finishing third twice in his two runs. Then in 2017, a larger five horse contingent arrived, with Main Stay making history by becoming the first Korean raider to win a carnival affair when claiming a handicap under Pat Cosgrave. Still as the KRA continues to enhance its global presence, Ryu remains convinced the regulatory body could get good mileage out of its time in Dubai yet again. “
We’ve had a good time at the Dubai Racing Club in the past, particularly during the 2017 carnival,” Ryu said. “We sent five horses then and one of the horses, Main Stay, did very well for us by winning and one of them, Triple Nine, raced in the Godolphin Mile that year so that was a positive sign as we continue to grow our brand around the world. At the moment, our horses are gaining in popularity in the UK and US. “The kind of experiences we’ve had here have helped in promoting Korean racing around the world so we are happy to be racing our horses in Dubai. They have very good dirt tracks here at Meydan. In Korea we have only sand tracks which makes our racing style more like dirt and so our horses are happy to be racing on dirt.”
Trained by Peter Wolsley, Ace Korea is a 4yo son of Smiling Tiger, who has won six of his 13 career starts and is expected to line up alongside other sprinters in the Dubawi Stakes, while the Simon Foster-schooled pair of Dolkong and Choego Money will be aimed at mile to 10f distances and trips over 10f respectively. Buhwarui Banseok, the charge of trainer Bart Rice, who has won eight of his 28 career outings, is another runner suited to longer distances. Speaking of the Korean contingent, Ryu added: “Ace Korea is a good horse over short distances and will be aimed at the sprint races here so we will first run him in the Dubawi Stakes on 3 January.
“Dolkong runs at distances between a mile and 2000m so we will be looking to run him all the way through the Al Maktoum Challenge races if the circumstances allow. Choego Money runs at longer distances, he’s more of a 2000m and over horse and he will be racing on turf, so, if all is well following his travel here, he will race on the first night at Meydan in the handicap over 2410m. “Buhwarui Banseok, his name means a step forward and his distance is the same as Dolkong and I think his trainer Bart Rice would like to race him in the first round of the Al Maktoum Challenge as well. “This year all of our four horses are trained by foreign trainers and we are hoping that they do well during their time here in the Emirates.” South Korean racing has taken major strides internationally and its achievements haven’t gone unnoticed.
Despite having just three racetracks at Seoul, Busan and Jeju, the KRA boasts a turnover of over $7 billion, with its purses said to be the third highest in the world. It is bidding to make a mark in all spheres of the industry, not just racing and breeding, and a few years ago set up a local jockey school, with a number of top class professional riders being flown in to provide instruction to Korean hopefuls. Ryu added: “We are famous for our turnover which is $7 billion per year but our horses have just started to race overseas from 2013, so we are pretty young in that sense when it comes to international racing. “However, within a very short time we have extended our portfolio to eight countries including the UAE. We’ve also been hosting the Group 1 Korea Cup and Group 1 Korea Sprint as part of the international races in September every year since 2016. This year we had the third edition of the Korea Cup Sprint and horses trained by Dubai trainers have featured in the races in the past.”