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Jeulgeounyeojeong picked up from where she left off at the end of last year as she took the first leg of the Queens’ Tour Spring & Summer, the Donga Ilbo Trophy (1 1/8 Mile KOR-Listed), with an assured performance at Seoul Racecourse on Saturday night.

Jeulgeounyeojeong winning the Donga Ilbo Trophy. Picture: Korea Racing Authority
Jeulgeounyeojeong winning the Donga Ilbo Trophy. Picture: Korea Racing Authority

Sent off as the prohibitive 1.5 favourite locally on a warm Spring afternoon, Jeulgeounyeojeong tracked early leader Raon The Spurt throughout the early and middle stages of the race, before jockey Seo Seung-un took things up early in the straight and then comfortably held off Wonderful Slew by three-quarters of a length on the line. 60/1 chance Yellow Cat was 3rd although essentially in a different race to the first two once they hit the home straight.

Jeulgeounyeojeong was the winner of all three legs of the Triple Tiara last year and while it seemed a gruelling season had caught up with her – she ran eleven times in total in 2023 - after a couple of late season reverses, including at the hands of Wonderful Slew, the Kim Young-kwan-trained filly returned to form with victory in December's Breeders' Cup Queen at Busan. She then got a very welcome three-month break.

For a first up performance, Jeulgeounyeojeong looked formidable and will surely get better for the run. Winning jockey Seo Seung-un agreed, telling in-house broadcaster KRBC: "It was a good run after three months off. There wasn't really a suitable class 1 race for her in Busan in the lead up, so we came straight here. I had trust in the horse, and I am pleased we were able to come through for the fans."

Winning trainer Kim admitted there were some nervous moments watching: "Even though (Jeulgeounyeojeong) was first-up after three months and Wonderful Slew had a race in her, I actually thought we would win comfortably" he told KRBC. "But we were almost in trouble in the end there and I think Wonderful Slew has improved a lot since the last time we met." 

Indeed, the way that Wonderful Slew finished off suggests that the Luigi Riccardi-trained galloper may yet have a say in the big ones as the season progresses. The runner-up's jockey Moon Se-young said he expected some early speed and that he had a key decision imposed on him with 800 metres to run:

 "The likes of Gangseo Giant, Chamjoeun Chingu and Raon The Spurt can be fast, so I was mindful of that. The key moment was around the 3rd corner when (Yellow Cat) came up on the outside and, well…you can review it for yourself later...I had to decide whether to go then or to hold back and I decided I couldn't hold it any longer. Would it have been a different result if I had? I don't know. But, anyway, I think at 2000M, we will win."

That is something that will have to wait. The Queens' Tour Spring & Summer moves on to the Ttukseom Cup (1400M KOR-G2) at Seoul on April 28th, before concluding with the KNN Cup (1600M KOR-G3) at Busan on June 2nd. As Jeulgeounyeojeong and Wonderful Slew did last year, the best fillies from the three-year-old ranks will then be expected to join the Queens Tour Fall & Winter Series that begins in September.

We'll get a closer look at just who those fillies might be when the Triple Tiara kicks off next Sunday at Busan with the Luna Stakes (1600M KOR-Listed), the first leg of the 2024 Triple Tiara. 

Racing and Sports