Exactly one year on from the flagship win of his career, Rich Tapestry was unable to enhance his record with another standout overseas win. The horse that made history in the 2014 G1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship on American dirt was thwarted this afternoon (Sunday, 4 October) on Japanese turf: the local mare Straight Girl took the G1 Sprinters Stakes (1200m) and so too the glory with a storming run up the short, climbing Nakayama straight.
Drawn in gate one, Rich Tapestry needed everything to go his way. Proven to be at his best on dirt, the first Hong Kong horse to triumph Stateside was out to affirm his talents on grass. The seven-year-old, sporting blue and yellow checkerboard blinkers to match his silks, broke prominently against the rail but was soon easing back under first-time partner Christophe Lemaire. As the front-runner Hakusan Moon stretched ahead, the wide-drawn runners, poised opportunistically, were afforded a chance to edge across: Rich Tapestry was suddenly out of room and out of luck, shuffled back to race eighth in the 15-runner field.
Hong Kong’s globe-trotter rallied when clear ground was found through the stiff final furlong but he could manage only sixth place, a length and a half behind the winner and only a head outside of the prize money.
“The barrier killed him,” said a disappointed Michael Chang, the gelding’s trainer. “The jockey sat a little bit farther back than I expected. I wanted him to go forward from barrier one then take a hold and give the horse his second breath after the turn, not before. Unfortunately the horses to his outside came across him and he got shuffled too far back.”
Straight Girl, third to Aerovelocity in last season’s G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) and subsequently successful in the G1 Victoria Mile, prevailed by three quarters of a length from Sakura Gospel, with Ukiyono Kaze another neck away in third. The Hideaki Fujiwara-trained six-year-old relished the stiff finish. The tough mare shifted out in the dip and powered home centre track under Keita Tosaki to stop the clock at 1m 08.1s
Afterwards, Fujiwara said that Straight Girl will head back to Hong Kong in December in an attempt to reverse form with Aerovelocity. If so, the Fuji Kiseki mare might lock horns with Rich Tapestry again, too.
”Now we will get him home, check everything is ok and the plan will be the Hong Kong Sprint in December and then Dubai,” said Chang of his Holy Roman Emperor gelding.
“The horse has run on really well and he is unlucky not to have finished in the first three – he deserved something more the way he ran on,” he added.
A crowd of more than 38,000 turned out to cheer on Japan’s crack sprinters in the eighth leg of the Global Sprint Challenge. The 10th and final leg is the LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint at Sha Tin Racecourse on Sunday, 13 December, when Aerovelocity will attempt to clinch the US$1 million bonus for winning three legs in a calendar year –Hong Kong’s Champion Sprinter has already won the G1 Takamatsunomiya Kinen and the G1 KrisFlyer International Sprint.
Rich Tapestry (white cap �V No. 1) finishes sixth in the G1 Sprinters Stakes (1200m) at Nakayama Racecourse, Japan this afternoon (Sunday, 4 October).
Straight Girl, trained by Hideaki Fujiwara and ridden by Keita Tosaki, takes the G1 Sprinters Stakes (1200m).
Connections of Straight Girl pose for photos at the lead-in.