Christophe Lemaire partnered Rich Tapestry for the first time in a turf track gallop at Nakayama Racecourse, Japan, this morning (Thursday, 1 October). The French ace will ride the Hong Kong hero in Sunday’s G1 Sprinters Stakes (1200m) at the Tokyo track.
Lemaire was pleased with the Michael Chang-trained seven-year-old, who this time last year was preparing to make history with victory in the G1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship (1200m, dirt) – as the first and only Hong Kong horse to win a race in North America.
“I was asked to give him an 800m gallop this morning and to give him a good blow in the last 200m, nothing too special,” said Lemaire, who is one of only two foreign jockeys licenced full-time by the JRA.
“The horse is so easy to ride and the work went very well. He was looking around a bit but then when I put him under pressure in the last 200m he reacted nicely. He strode out well and was well-balanced, which is most important. The race is only two days away so the horse didn’t need fast, hard work and I was happy with him.”
Olivier Doleuze, Rich Tapestry’s regular partner, is on a career sabbatical at present as he attempts to overcome a troublesome shoulder problem. Lemaire revealed that Doleuze has been in touch to give him some insights into the Holy Roman Emperor gelding.
“Olivier is a very good friend of mine,” said Lemaire. “He told me that the horse is a super ride and a very easy ride for any jockey. He said I can settle in any position, either in front or a little bit more behind. He said the horse is genuine and always gives 100% in his races.”
Chang will fly to Japan after today’s National Day Cup meeting at Sha Tin and is due to arrive early Friday morning. The trainer commented: “The jockey rode him today and he was happy. Everything is normal – all is good.”
Rich Tapestry gallops at Nakayama this morning under Christophe Lemaire in preparation for the G1 Sprinters Stakes this Sunday.