Seongu Ryu hopes Dubai World Cup Carnival success can be a Main Stay for Korean racing

Horsemen from South Korea hope that Thursday night’s success at Meydan can help propel racing forward in the Asian country.
Patrick Cosgrave riding Main Stay wins at the Dubai World Cup Carnival. Pawan Singh / The National
Patrick Cosgrave riding Main Stay wins at the Dubai World Cup Carnival. Pawan Singh / The National

Horsemen from South Korea hope that Thursday night’s success at Meydan can help propel racing forward in the Asian country.

Main Stay became the first horse trained and born in Korea to win in Dubai when powering to victory by two-and-three-quarter lengths under Irishman Pat Cosgrave in the 1,200-metre handicap.

To underline the strength of the Korean challenge, Seoul Bullet was fourth and 2016 Korean Horse Of The Year, Triple Nine, was second behind Hunting Ground in the 2000-metre handicap earlier in the night.

Last week Power Blade finished third ahead of Different Dimension in seventh in a 1,600-metre handicap and there is a real belief that each of the runners can improve throughout the Carnival.

“Participating in the Dubai World Cup Carnival is driven by the policy of the will to develop the racing industry in Korea to an international accepted level,” Dr Seongu Ryu, international manager for Korean international races, said.

“People see racing as a social evil in Korea at the moment. So if they see us achieve something here in Dubai that might change.”

It is been a fairly seamless process to set up new quarantine protocols from scratch in and out of South Korea.

Cheongu became the first horse trained in Korea to appear at the Dubai World Cup Carnival last season, and his presence was augmented by that of his compatriot Success Story, a Korean-bred horse who came third in two starts in Dubai last season which included chasing home subsequent World Cup winner California Chrome.

Korea only had import and export protocols for racing with Japan in 2013, but then added Japan and Singapore a year later. In December 2015, the UAE and Turkey came to an agreement and last September, 14 horses from seven countries took part in the inaugural Korea Cup and Korea Sprint.

Main Stay was transported from the Keeneland sales in utero. The four-year-old is by American sire Tale Of The Cat out of No Bull Baby and has become one of Korea’s top sprinters.

Trainer Young-Kwan Kim was in too celebratory a mood on Thursday to consider where Main Stay may run next but the Group 3 Al Shindagha Sprint on February 2 over the same distance would certainly fully test his mettle.

Of Kim’s quartet of horses, it is Triple Line who he still has most faith in. Not a giant horse by any means, having to carry 60 kilograms in a handicap on Thursday was not considered ideal and maybe the Listed Curlin Handicap on February 23 could be an option. Otherwise the 2000-metre handicap on February 9 looks the most likely option. Wherever Triple Nine goes, a tide of Korean will is likely to be behind him.

“Korea will be shaken if Triple Line gets in to the World Cup [on March 25],” Ryu said. “We have been talking about this for so long. Having a Korean horse running in the World Cup is our longest-held dream. If a Korean horse put his name on the World Cup list it would be breaking news at home.”

Main Stay’s success was tinged by tragedy, however, when it emerged that Swedish raider Giftorm suffered fatal injuries in the race and had to be put down.

Giftorm, who had been campaigned at the Carnival for the past two seasons, suffered multiple fractures to his fetlock joints.

Turkish star Graystorm also reportedly suffered a fracture in his left-foreleg when seventh in the Al Fahidi Fort, but is expected to make a full recovery. The grey, who won the Turkish Guineas and Derby, was pictured with a small cast on his front-left foot after the race and will miss the rest of the UAE season.

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Published: January 20, 2017 04:00 AM

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