Rich Tapestry arrives in Japan for Sprinters Stakes
The globe-trotting Hong Kong-based Rich Tapestry, who has competed in three different countries in the past year alone, set down for his first time in Japan on the morning of Thursday, Sept. 24. The 7-year-old gelding flew in from Hong Kong ahead of the Oct. 4 Sprinters Stakes after turning in impressive workout at Sha Tin the day before. Rich Tapestry, a G1 winner, is the first overseas-based horse to take on the race since 2012, when a trio of foreign raiders made the trip to Japan.
The Irish-bred Rich Tapestry arrived shortly before 6:30 a.m. at Narita International Airport on Thursday and reached the quarantine facilities at the nearby JRA Horseracing School in Shiroi, Chiba Prefecture, at 9:45 a.m.
Assistant trainer Chak Ming Chang gave things a thumbs-up saying, “There were no problems with the trip.” Plans were to give the Chun Wai Chang-trained gelding only light work while at the jockey school. “I’ll be in touch with the trainer every day and decide after talking things over with him,” the assistant trainer said. Trainer Chang has said that Christophe Lemaire, who is pegged for the ride in the Sprinters Stakes, will gallop Rich Tapestry at Nakayama on the Thursday before the race.
Rich Tapestry, by Holy Roman Emperor out of the Sadler’s Wells mare Genuine Charm, took on his first G1 for Chang in December of 2013 when he ran sixth behind Lord Kanaloa in the Hong Kong Sprint. In March the following year he aced the G3 Mahab Al Shimaal over 6 furlongs at Meydan and followed that up later in the month with a third in the G1 Dubai Golden Shaheen at the same venue. Back in Hong Kong he ran eighth in a G2 event before taking the next six months off.
He returned to the track and kicked off his 2014/2015 season with a surprise win in the United States on Oct. 4. In what is his most prestigious win yet, Rich Tapestry bested a field of five in the 1,200-meter G1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship after staying off the pace and making a late run to catch the favorite Goldencents in the final stride. That victory gave the gelding an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. The Breeders’ Cup on Nov. 1 proved a huge disappointment, however, when he ran last in a field of 14.
Next out on March 28 saw Rich Tapestry take on the G1 Dubai Golden Shaheen at Meydan, where he finished third. And, two months later he ran fifth in the G1 KrisFlyer International Sprint at Kranji.
Though Rich Tapestry has no race on the books leading into the Sprinters Stakes, he did run in a barrier trial on Sept. 12. He outclassed the field and it showed as he topped the other 10 runners by over 5 lengths under Brett Prebble, who is standing in for regular rider Olivier Doleuze, out with a shoulder injury.
Prebble, though he had been asked to ride Rich Tapestry in the Sprinters Stakes, stood by other commitments, namely Caspar Fownes’ Lucky Nine, who had also been aimed for the Sprinters Stakes. Prebble turned down the ride on Rich Tapestry and, as fate would have it, Lucky Nine’s planned trip to Japan was later cancelled. Prebble rode Rich Tapestry for his final gallop in Hong Kong the day prior to leaving for Japan and gave the workout top marks. The South China Morning Post reported Prebble as saying, “They have got him in absolute top form. He is clearly a great dirt horse and he will need to run the race of his life on the turf, but if he takes what I felt from him this morning and brings it on raceday, he’ll be running in the first three – that’s how good he is going.”.
Rich Tapestry has had better luck on dirt than turf but Chang believes his gelding can add a G1 turf feather to his cap. “He was only 4 lengths off them in Singapore and not everything went right for him,” Chang said recently for the South China Morning Post. “He is obviously a better dirt horse than he is on turf and he will need some luck. Maybe he isn’t a top winning chance, but with a good draw he could go close, especially if it rains and we get a wet track – that would help.”
After Rich Tapestry’s morning gallop the day before leaving for Japan, Chang was reported as saying, “We are very happy with him. It was a good test this morning and he trialled well last week. The horse is ready and if he draws a good gate we can go very close.”
The Sprinters Stakes is scheduled to be run on Sunday, Oct. 4 at 3:40 p.m. Japan time.