A wet and thundery morning did not deter the Busan trio running in Sunday’s Korea Racing Authority Trophy (1200m) from going through with their scheduled gallop on Thursday.
Under a steady drizzle while flashes of lightning intermittently streaked through the Kranji skies, the Kim Young Kwan pair of Today and Gakbyeolhan, along with the Kim Nam Jung-trained Approach breezed over one lap of the Polytrack, kicking off in Indian file before finishing locked together at the post, looking in fine fettle.
They all had their respective race-riders on their backs. The Kim Young Kwan duo were handled by the two Busan-based Irish jockeys, Franco Da Silva on Today and Fergus Sweeney on Gakbyeolhan while Approach had Korean rider Lee Hyo Sik astride.
Following the hit-outs, the threesome headed over to the Grandstand where they were hand-walked riderless around the parade ring for some paddock schooling under the close supervision of Kim Young Kwan’s team leader Kim Uk. They all took the one lap in their stride before exiting through the horse walk on their way back to the stables, without turning a hair right through.
Not raining on their parade: Roof above kept rain off for a dry spot of paddock schooling for (from left to right) Gakbyeolhan, Today and Approach on Thursday morning.
Gakbyeolhan (17-6-2-2): US-bred 5yo grey by Big Brown out of Awful Smart – Kim Young Kwan
Cantered off the first bend of the Polytrack (Track 2) with race-rider Fergus Sweeney up before quickening up inside the last 600m. Brought up the rear first before rolling forward down the back. Took the inside run and was eventually reeled back in by stable companion Today to finish in a bunched-up three-way go.
“He was a little bit keen and I let him roll to the front down the back,” said Irish jockey Fergus Sweeney.
“The gallop didn’t really suit him. I wouldn’t be too worried how he worked; he’s not a flash workhorse, anyway.
Gakbyeolhan takes a first look around the Kranji parade ring.
“More importantly, he moved very well on the surface, and I liked the way he went through the line after his work. He was strong and I still had plenty under me.
“He will need a solid pace to the race. That’s when his stamina will get to come into play.
“He is not too forward. So we were always going to ride him for luck.
“He has drawn one, which can be tricky, though, but it’s not really an issue. He will settle where he is comfortable.”
Today (13-10-0-2): Korean-bred 4yo chestnut by Drosselmeyer (USA) out of Gone Goodbye – Kim Young Kwan
Cantered off the first bend of the Polytrack (Track 2) with race-rider Franco Da Silva up before quickening up inside the last 600m. Sat in second place behind Approach first before being passed by stable companion Gakbyeolhan down the back. Came back again in the straight, slotting in between the two to finish on terms with them on the line.
“He went very good this morning. I’m very happy with his work; everything is perfect,” said Brazilian-born Irish jockey Franco Da Silva.
“I gave him a bit of a blow inside the last 600m. The other horse (Gakbyeolhan) started to take off in the backstraight because it was too slow.
“But my horse was very strong to the line. He is a sprinter, he picked up the other horse.
Today walks around the Kranji parade ring like he's been doing that for years.
“We didn’t do too much with him. I don’t want to do too much with my horses.
“He’s much better than he was at his last start in Seoul (Group 3 race). He wasn’t 100% then, but still ran a good third.
“Even when he went out to the track, he was not happy, he was not feeling really well. He was not trotting well, he was not striding well, it felt tight.
“But everything is perfect this time. He is fresher, more balanced.
“We’ll see how he is after the gallop this morning, but he will have some barrier practice with the other horse tomorrow, and maybe an easy lap of canter just to maintain his condition. It’s the Korean style before a race.
“I’ve seen that he wins most of his races from the front, but he is the type of horse who jumps and sits, travels and quickens. He’s drawn seven, he doesn’t have to lead, he can sit fourth or fifth.”
A slightly rain-soaked assistant-trainer Kim Uk gave a thumbs-up after his two charges wrapped up their last pipe-opener before Sunday. Helping his fellow Busan trainer Kim Nam Jung, he was also seen giving Approach’s rider, Lim Hyo Sik, instructions before the hit-out.
“That was good,” he simply said.
“Tomorrow, they will have a barrier practice. Not in and out, they will jump!”
Approach (22-8-8-1): Korean-bred 6yo brown by Pico Central (Brazil) out of Weaverslittlevixen – Kim Nam Jung
Cantered off the first bend of the Polytrack (Track 2) with race-rider Lee Hyo Sik up before quickening up inside the last 600m. Led the trio around the outside going down the back. Dropped back to third around the second bend before running on again to finish locked together with the Kim Young Kwan pair.
“It was a very good hit-out. He led from the backstraight to the second bend, then the other two went past, but he came back again in the last 50m when I asked him to quicken,” said Korean jockey Lee Hyo Sik, filling in for trainer Kim Nam Jung who arrives on Friday.
“After that, he went to the parade ring. The groom told me he was very quiet there, just like the other two, no problem.
“Tomorrow he will do a jumpout practice.”
Approach acquaints himself with a place which will be much more packed on Sunday, all pictures Singapore Turf Club