Chang cleans up on the dirt with a treble

Sunshine Kid, Happy Forever and Champagne Days give trainer his second career three-timer

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 November, 2012, 10:14am

Sha Tin's much-derided dirt meetings may be a drag for some, but Michael Chang Chun-wai was revelling in the all-weather action last night landing his second career treble on a speedy surface with front-runners in command.

"The dirt meetings here at night are always weaker. When you go to the day meetings or at Happy Valley, you're up against the top stables - and you just can't fight with them," Chang said after wins to Sunshine Kid, Happy Forever and Champagne Days. The first two winners helped another dirt-track specialist, Olivier Doleuze, to a double.

Champagne Days (Weichong Marwing) was one of the few runners to not race on the speed, skipping away with a Class Three by three lengths.

"Champagne Days is a decent horse, but he is limited on the turf," said Chang, who unleashed Sunshine Kid on the dirt for the first time - but not the last - as he burst away for an easy win. He loves the track, he works well on it and trials well on it, too.

"He is pretty limited on the turf and a little bit of US breeding on the dam side told us he might like the all-weather track.

"Happy Forever has finished second four times on the turf, by a whisker each time, but was better placed here."

John Moore-trained sprinter Frederick Engels set up a Class One clash with Real Specialist on international day and brought up a double for Brett Prebble with an impressive Class Two win in the last event, bucking the on-pace trend as he came from midfield.

"This horse is really starting to hit his straps," Moore said. "His trial showed you that he likes the surface, the give really seems to help him. We will step him up to 1,400m on December 9."

Prebble had earlier brought up his 600th Hong Kong winner in the opening event, and set the tone for the evening, when he hunted Fiery Raider straight to the front, even giving the Caspar Fownes-trained gelding a couple of slaps with the whip in the early stages, and then maintaining a class-record pace throughout.

"This horse has been having a bit of a lend of us, so we wanted to give him a vigorous warm up behind the gates and then be aggressive at the start," said Fownes, who later brought up a double with Slick Bullet, who lived up to his name and US-breeding with a win in slick time - 1.08.03 for 1,200m.

By race three the jig was up and it was lead at all costs; Danny Shum Chap-shing sending Alex Lai Hoi-wing out with simple instructions - "find the front and rail" - on What A Heart.

"It's very hard to get beat from there tonight," Shum said. "It was only a short margin of victory and he should get five or six points and go to the top of the grade, so we will look to claim with an apprentice so he doesn't have to carry 133 pounds."

Bosambo (Matthew Chadwick) had his all-weather debut delayed when he was withdrawn earlier this season. With a clean start, he dominated from the front in a rare 1,800m dirt event.