Merry Anniversary probably moved into the 10 top-rated horses in Michael Chang Chun-wai's yard with his smart win in the Class Three Jinbao Street Handicap, but the trainer can't wait to see the back of him.
'Merry Anniversary has very good ability - he is much better than just a Class Three horse,' enthused Chang after the grey swamped the leaders to win the 1,000m scamper running away under Weichong Marwing, at only his fifth outing since arriving from Sydney. 'But I have asked the owner to only race him once or twice more and retire him. He just has too many problems.'
The grey did everything right this time and finished his race with a wet sail, but the problems Chang speaks of had surfaced in his most recent race, when Merry Anniversary finished fifth of nine in a similar race at the Valley as a 2.3 favourite.
His jockey Jeff Lloyd told the stewards on that occasion the gelding had blundered at the start, lost his balance when he brushed with another runner in the race and travelled poorly, as well as making 'an audible respiratory noise, which it often does in his trackwork.'
'The horse has bone chips in both knees - he even has trouble just standing up sometimes - and he's a grade three roarer, which is why I've been running him over 1,000m here when it really isn't his distance,' Chang said.
'The problem is that he can't breathe and over 1,200m, he runs out of air and just stops. The surface at Sha Tin is too firm to run over any distance at all there. He's a good horse but, as you can see, I have very restricted options with his racing programme. That's why I've asked the owner to think about retiring him very soon.'
Well at least they'll always have the Jinbao Street Handicap.