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It was always going to be about the start for Beolmaui Star. At Seoul Racecourse on Sunday afternoon (U.S. Saturday night), the five-year-old shrugged off his recent gate woes to begin beautifully and cross to the lead and then proceeded to make every post the proverbial winning post in the SBS Sports Sprint (1200M KOR-G3) at Seoul Racecourse.

Beolmaui Star Eoma Eoma SBS Photo: Korea Racing Authority
Beolmaui Star Eoma Eoma SBS Photo: Korea Racing Authority

The so-called generational shift hinted at with Raon The Point's victory over fellow four-year-old Something Lost in the first leg of the Sprint Series, the Busan Ilbo Sprint last month, will have to wait. Something Lost was sent off as favourite and was in the race a long way, crossing the line 3rd, just a length and a half behind Beolmaui Star. 

But Raon The Point, while showing near the front early on, faded from the scene early and finished well back. Instead, it was the veteran Eoma Eoma, showing he is far from done yet, who was a fast-finishing 2nd, three-quarters of a length behind the winner. 

Beolmaui Star was unable to run in the Busan Ilbo as his quarantine period on his return from his disappointing Dubai sojourn meant that he wasn't able to return to work in time Local punters didn't care about that and also ignored those Dubai results and his latest start in Korea, when missing the start in the Kookje Shinmun Trophy last November, and they made him 2nd favourite behind Something Lost. 

"I was actually nervous" winning trainer Baik Kwang-yeol told in-house broadcaster KRBC. "The first time I have ever been nervous before a Group race."

Baik didn't talk much more about the race but expanded on his chastening experience at the Dubai Carnival with a horse he felt, given the times he had run at 1200M – and having finished just four-lengths behind international superstar Remake – should have been competitive, but was not:

"I thought we prepared well for Dubai but ultimately, I felt like that frog in the well (who knows nothing of the sea). He can (run the times necessary to be competitive) but just couldn't adjust to the pace and tempo of the race there. If we can't adjust to that then (Korean racing) will never be any better, I feel good and fortunate to have won today, but I will not just be satisfied with this." 

Beolmaui Star seems to love racing at Seoul. After the Korea Sprint and before his Dubai disgrace, he also messed up the start in the Kookje Shinmun Trophy in Busan last November, but this time, back in the capital, there was no mistake. 

"(Beolmaui Star) has just one drawback" winning jockey Seo Seung-un explained to KRBC. "He can get anxious in the gates, and he is a lead horse so if he makes a mistake at the start, he simply won't get a result. So, we trained a lot to get the start right and he did and then we were able to carry out our plan effectively."

As for the Dubai expedition, Seo, who travelled over to Meydan to ride his first race, didn't have much of an explanation and quickly moved on. "There wasn't a particular problem with the horse, he just didn't run well. Next month is the SROA Chairman's Trophy over the same 1200M distance so if the horse is in good health and condition then there will be a high possibility that we will be here."

Like Moon Se-young two weeks ago, Seo also noted the demographics among the racegoers. "When I come to Seoul, I feel like I can receive a lot of support because the crowd is so big. The number of younger fans has increased a lot, so the atmosphere makes it feel like the culture has changed a lot compared to just ten years ago. It is really nice to see."

The final leg of the Sprint Series is the SROA Chairman's Sprint (1200M KOR-G2) at Seoul on Sunday May 19th (U.S. Saturday May 20th). Next weekend, the focus shifts back to the Korea Cup lead-up with the Stayer Series and Global Hit heading the field in the YTN Cup (2000M KOR-G3) at Seoul on Sunday afternoon (U.S. Saturday night).

Racing and Sports