After being put through their paces by work riders at their first couple of days at Kranji, the Busan trio running in the Korea Racing Authority Trophy (1200m) on Sunday had their respective race-riders stepping into the plate on Tuesday morning.
It was nothing more strenuous than the casual routine they have been following since Saturday (Sunday was off), given the core of their preparation had already been put to bed back home, but Lee Hyo Sik (Approach), Fergus Sweeney (Gakbyeolhan, pictured above) and Franco Da Silva (Today) all jumped off with thumbs-ups, especially the latter who rode Today to a third place in a Group 3 race in Seoul at his last start.
This is the fourth year running Korean raiders are flying in to contest the reciprocal race between the Singapore Turf Club and the Korea Racing Authority. They have yet to crack it for a first win, but they certainly hope they have brought the right ammunition to do so this year.
Gakbyeolhan (17-6-2-2): US-bred 5yo grey by Big Brown out of Awful Smart – Kim Young Kwan
Cantered one lap of Polytrack (Track 2) with race-rider Fergus Sweeney up.
“He did exactly the same work as Today – one lap of canter, but separately,” said jockey Fergus Sweeney who only began riding in Busan in May.
“He did nothing too quick, but he felt very good. He had a very good action for the Polytrack.
“It’s my first time sitting on him this morning. I actually know very little about him other than he did very well as a two-year-old and three-year-old at 1200m.
“He’s always shown good form over 1200m, but he’s since been running over 1800m-2000m, and has been doing very well, too.”
With trainer Kim Young Kwan and connections of both Gakbyeolhan and Today jetting in from Busan on Friday, assistant-trainer Kim Uk - or team leader as they are called in Korea - has been the one looking after the two KRA Trophy contenders since they landed in Singapore on Friday.
“I’m very happy with both horses. They seem to be much better here in Singapore!” said Kim Uk through interpreter Joyce Kang Ji Sung.
“They lost around seven kilos on the way here, but they’ve already gained some weight back.
“The horses completed 70% of their work in Korea. Here they are just getting used to the Polytrack, which is different to our dirt back home.”
The two Kim Young Kwan charges Gakbyeolhan (Fergus Sweeney, right) and Today (Franco Da Silva)
head out for their trackwork under the Kranji lights on Tuesday, picture Singapore Turf Club
Today (13-10-0-2): Korean-bred 4yo chestnut by Drosselmeyer (USA) out of Gone Goodbye – Kim Young Kwan
Cantered one lap of Polytrack (Track 2) with race-rider Franco Da Silva up.
“He went really good this morning,” said jockey Franco Da Silva.
“I rode him once in Seoul when he ran third in a Group 3 race. He was not very balanced in that sprint race (1200m) in Seoul but I feel he’s got his balance right this time.
“I thought he did very well in the Seoul race, considering it was his first time running in a Group race (it was a Group 3 race).
“The best he’s run against back in Busan was in Class 1 races. He’s still a young horse but has already won 10 races in 13 starts!
“He’s already done all his work back home. He will just canter a little bit quicker tomorrow and will gallop on Thursday, same as Fergus’s horse.”
Approach (22-8-8-1): Korean-bred 6yo brown by Pico Central (Brazil) out of Weaverslittlevixen – Kim Nam Jung
Cantered one lap of Polytrack (Track 2) with race-rider Lee Hyo Sik up.
“He only cantered this morning. He felt good,” said young Korean jockey Lee Hyo Sik, a winner of 92 races.
“He’s settled in well. He lost a bit of weight but he’s coming back to his racing weight of 518kgs.
“He will gallop on Thursday. The trainer (Kim Nam Jung) will be here on Friday.”
Jockey Lee Hyo Sik brings Approach back to the stables after his Tuesday canter, picture Singapore Turf Club