It was a nervous yet cautiously confident Michael Chang that sent Rich Tapestry to post for the G1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (1200m) at Santa Anita racetrack on Saturday, 1 November (Sunday morning Hong Kong time). But Hong Kong’s first ever runner at America’s showcase international event was unable to produce anything like his best.
Winning rider Florent Geroux saluted the crowd as the victorious Work All Week crossed the wire a half-length ahead of last year’s winner Secret Circle, in a time of 1m 08.28s. Meanwhile, Olivier Doleuze was easing Rich Tapestry to last place.
“I had a lovely run,” said Doleuze. “I followed the horse I was supposed to follow – I was lucky to be behind Secret Circle, but on the turn my gaps began to get narrow and where he was supposed to travel for me I was already off the bridle. He’s never done that to me - never.”
Rich Tapestry had travelled like a dream when defeating Secret Circle and the previous day’s G1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Goldencents in the G1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship over the course and distance a month ago. There was to be no repeat of that form, which had propelled him to race favouritism in Hong Kong and the US.
After breaking to sit handy in midfield, Rich Tapestry never travelled with the same ease as in his prep run. When the field of 14 began the turn for home this time, the writing was on the wall.
“He was empty,” a deflated and exasperated Doleuze said. “Normally I have plenty under me – plenty on the dirt. I don’t know – today there was nothing. It’s disappointing, but it happens.”
Rich Tapestry had given every indication in the lead-up to the race that he had thrived in the Southern California environment. But the Holy Roman Emperor gelding did not perform as expected.
"I'm very sad,” said a dejected Chang. “I am sorry to the owners and the Hong Kong public. But he wasn't himself – he had a lot of dirt and some blood inside. He just couldn't breathe. Maybe he didn't like the kick-back either. We knew something wasn't right with him because that was not his true form.
"The trip has been a great experience overall, but today is of course not a good finish. I want to thank my owners and staff,” he added.
Rich Tapestry trots to the starting gate before the G1 Breeders�� Cup Sprint.