'Unbelievable' as Chang closes in on best season
Trainer Michael Chang Chun-wai enjoyed a breakthrough moment at Sha Tin yesterday, landing his first treble as he surges towards another personal best for the season.
'That's unbelievable!' Chang grinned after Nice Folks and Olivier Doleuze arrived in the shadows of the post to claim the final race and give him his third for the afternoon after Joyful Luck (Alvin Ng Ka-chun) and Giggles Forever (Weichong Marwing) had scored earlier.
With 23 wins for the term, Chang is within shooting range of the 26 he posted in 2010-11, but he was keener to talk about the prospects of the day's Class Three feature winner, Giggles Forever, who looped around the whole field in the stretch to take the Hong Kong University Alumni Association Challenge Cup (1,600m).
'I am 90 per cent sure that will be his last run for this season - this is a very nice horse and I want to look after him,' Chang said. 'For a horse like him to be in the race with the light weight, he was just too good for those horses. He will be Class Two quality at least, I am certain. Even winning like that today, I don't think we are seeing the horse he is going to be - so much potential.'
Marwing agreed, saying Giggles Forever didn't yet 'have his racing mind' quite right and he had advised Chang to put the gelding aside.
'He'll get some confidence from the win today and he is something for Michael to work on for next season. He feels a better horse than where he is in the ratings but he will be better for having a break now,' said Marwing, who persisted with what has been Giggles Forever's racing pattern out the back of the field, despite queries on the pace of the race.
'Look, the tempo wasn't genuine but I thought it would have been a mistake, especially going up to the mile first time, to start changing his pattern. He only had the light weight, he does have a turn of foot as we have seen in his other races, so the best idea was to keep him doing what he has been doing. He ran the mile right out that way and he's definitely a decent horse.'
The compliments were not as easy to come by for Chang's first winner, Joyful Luck, despite him earning his first stake money at his 10th start.
'He was down into Class Four today, I put the blinkers on and I took the seven pounds claim and then the horse got a perfect run,' Chang said. 'I'm happy that he has won but I really think he is an ordinary horse. He will struggle back in Class Three now.'
But Nice Folks has been a stable stalwart over the past two terms, and his third win came by much the same margin as his first two and in much the same way.
The gelding has won races now by a neck, a nose and now a head, and - despite him being a run-on horse - each time he has won he has done so in a slowly-run affair that allowed him to keep in touch and then use the good acceleration that he has in his armoury.
'That's great for Michael to get three,' said Doleuze. 'Nice Folks has been going well in the dirt sprints, where he gets a bit of speed on and runs home. When he gets out to the mile he can pull a bit, but today he was very kind and still produced his sprint. When we came to the turn, I knew he was going to be in the finish.'
The number of wins Michael Chang has racked up after yesterday's treble