Kings Shield has conquered virtually all before him on the dirt in Hong Kong but Seoul Racecourse's sandy, beach-like surface will pose an entirely new challenge as the son of Scat Daddy takes aim at internationally accredited opposition in Sunday's (September 4) G3 Korea Cup (1800m, sand).
Unable to make the journey to South Korea, trainer Frankie Lor will instead watch from home at Sha Tin with the final preparations left to his son Lok and the team on the ground as Kings Shield gears up to fly the Bauhinia flag alongside Jimmy Ting's Computer Patch – who tackles the G3 Korea Sprint (1200m, sand) – this weekend.
“It's hard to say (whether the surface will suit him) but I think frontrunners should be better there in Korea, you can see the kick back is quite serious. We have drawn (barrier) one this time, so it's good for my horse,” Lor said.
An American-bred dirt maestro, Kings Shield – who is now a seven-year-old – drew favourably alongside the rail on Thursday morning (September 1), much to the delight of his handler as he lines up against 12 rivals from Japan, Great Britain and South Korea.
“I think his form is good. He had one final race last season and then he went to Conghua for a break before returning to work. I think he has had enough work and if he can jump well and find the rail, it should be good,” Lor said.
Rated 103 in Hong Kong, Kings Shield – who dons the familiar red and black silks of the Siu family – is a four-time winner on the dirt who excelled on synthetic surfaces prior to export from Great Britain where he raced as a youngster for John Gosden.
“Everything is good, usually when you go to Korea or overseas, horses will drop some weight but he is eating well, so I don't think it (the travel) has been a problem.
“We gave him a gallop on Thursday (September 1) and he (Matthew Chadwick) reported to me that the horse is fine, he is good,” Lor said.
Hong Kong's very own Matthew Chadwick will partner Kings Shield and Computer Patch this weekend off the back of a first-rate local campaign which returned 55 wins and a maiden Tony Cruz Award.
King Shield will be Lor's second runner abroad following Glorious Artist who finished a commendable fourth in the 2019 Korea Cup under Vincent Ho.
“You could say, Kings Shield, as a frontrunner, should be better than Glorious Artist. That time (in 2019), I entered both horses but Kings Shield was found with colic and he required surgery so he couldn't go,” said Hong Kong's reigning champion trainer.
Following rain earlier this week, Lor remains hopeful of clear skies this Sunday, however, there is the real possibility of Super Typhoon Hinnamnor dampening what will already be an overcast afternoon in Seoul.
“We don't know the weather though, it was raining on Wednesday (August 31) and they said the track was quite terrible, you step on it with the horse and you can't even see his hoof. But it has improved and I hope the weather is fine on Sunday,” the 56-year-old said.
Of Kings Shield's rivals, Sekifu lines up for Japan as a three-time dirt winner who placed second to the Bob Baffert-trained Pinehurst in the 2022 G3 Saudi Derby (1600m, dirt). Sekifu steps away from gate four for trainer Koshiro Take.
A star on the local circuit, Raon The Fighter has won 11 races from 13 starts, including his commanding four-length win at Busan Racecourse in the KOR G3 Owners' Cup (1600m, sand) at the end of July – form which he is looking to back up this weekend for the home team when he bids to overcome barrier 10.
The Jane Chapple-Hyam-trained Intellogent – a winner on the all-weather in France – who in 2018 captured the G1 Prix Jean Prat (1600m) will represent Great Britain. He steps away from gate two with David Egan aboard.
The rest of the field includes Determination, Haengbok Wangja, Success Macho, Moonhak Chief, Crazy Conti, Simjangui Godong, Dolkong, King Of The Match and Winner's Man – who is chasing a fifth successive win following his tidy three-length score last start in the KOR G2 Mayor's Cup (1800m, sand) at Busan Racecourse in June.