Chang sets his sights on Noble double in interport series
Trainer Michael Chang Chun-wai may have one eye on the future already, but he is confident his old warhorse, Noble Alpha, can complete a rare double in Saturday's Hong Kong Macau Trophy at Sha Tin.
The seven-year-old won the away leg of last year's interport series, the Macau Hong Kong Trophy (1,500m) at Taipa racecourse, and victory in Saturday's home leg will see him become only the fourth horse to win both races of the series since its inception in 2004 - and the first horse to win the Hong Kong race a season after winning in Macau.
Chang is determined to send Noble Alpha back to Macau to defend his title in April, but he believes he has him ready for the feature.
"The owner [Peter Lee Kwok-wah] is a big fan of these races and so the target all season has been to prepare him for both races," Chang said.
"Our ultimate aim is to go back to Macau in April, but he's fit and well and primed to run a big race.
"He's been a very genuine horse, but now he's getting a little bit old he seems to be mixing his form a little bit more. The key is to get him to relax - if he can do that, he'll give you a very good kick. If he starts pulling, he'll be upset and his race will be run."
The six-strong Macau brigade is led by Gary Moore's Dr Sweet, a distant 13th last year, as they search for just their third win in 11 editions of the race.
Moore's brother John leads the Hong Kong team, with Destined For Glory, Flash Knight and 2012 winner Majestic Falcon.
Meanwhile, Keith Yeung Ming-lun is to return on Saturday with seven rides. Yeung suffered a fractured collarbone when his mount Chok Chok clipped heels and fell on December 29.