Michael Chang is pleased with the condition of Rich Tapestry as the clock counts down to Hong Kong’s first ever Breeders’ Cup contender lining up at American racing’s international showcase.
“I cannot get him better than this. He looks good and he is very good mentally,” said Chang this morning (Friday 31 October) as he patted the six-year-old’s gleaming quarters. The trainer had earlier sent his G1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (1200m) hope onto the Santa Anita dirt track for some easy exercise.
“He went a steady canter for a lap and a half – about 2,000m – very soft work,” he said. “The track closed at quarter to seven this morning so I had to get him out early, about 6.15. The first race is 11 o’ clock today, so everything has to be earlier, but everything is good with him.”
Chang and Rich Tapestry’s dedicated mafoo, Irving Chan, and work rider Vincent Sit, meticulously catered to the gelding’s post-exercise needs back at the barn, while the trainer outlined the schedule leading into Saturday’s test.
“This morning, now that we’ve walked him, we’ll groom him and then I’ll give him a massage, get him nice and relaxed,” said the hands-on trainer. “Occasionally I’ll do it in Hong Kong, just to loosen up his muscles and get him a little bit more relaxed.
“This afternoon the blacksmith will come and give him new shoes for the race – he’ll wear the side clip shoes on his back feet – for better grip on the dirt.
“On Saturday (race day) I will just give him a one-hour walk in the morning, then feed him at six o’clock and he races at four o’ clock in the afternoon. Two hours before the race I’ll get him out for a walk and let him pee,” said Chang as he stretched out Rich Tapestry’s hamstrings.
As for Rich Tapestry’s schedule after Saturday, Chang has a familiar route already mapped out.
“I would like to take him to Dubai again for the Dubai World Cup Carnival, the same as last year,” said the handler, who scored a first major overseas success when Rich Tapestry won the G3 Mahab Al Shimaal (1200m – Tapeta) in Dubai earlier this year, before going close in the G1 Dubai Golden Shaheen (1200m – Tapeta) on Dubai World Cup night in March. He has ruled out the LONGINES Hong Kong International Races due to simple logistics.
“After this he has three weeks quarantine here, two weeks quarantine in Hong Kong, so by the time he gets back to my stable it’s already December. Give him Christmas time off, and, if we keep him healthy, Dubai is the first option. He can’t run in December, it’s too hard for the horse – he’s an old boy now, he’s nearly seven.”
Rich Tapestry provided Chang with a first G1 success last month when winning the Santa Anita Sprint Championship at the course and distance. While that win “was a bit of a surprise – he beat two Breeders’ Cup winners”, the trainer has unwavering faith that his horse will perform well on Saturday: “I’m always confident when my horse runs on dirt,” he said, “he’s never missed!”