Michael Chang Chun-wai expects a forward showing from Rich Tapestry when he tackles the Mahab Al Shimaal (1,200m) at Meydan racecourse in Dubai on Saturday night, although the race no longer holds the same significance for the sprinter's major goal on World Cup night.
Chang sent Rich Tapestry to Dubai early, hoping that a good performance in Saturday's race would earn him a start in the US$2 million Golden Shaheen (1,200m) at the World Cup meeting on March 29, but the trainer revealed on Friday that he has already received an invite to the feature.
Hong Kong's team for the rich card is now a record eight runners, with last season's Sprint Cup winner joining John Moore's Sterling City in the Golden Shaheen.
Rich Tapestry arrived in Dubai last Sunday and Chang said he was happy with his progress after a tough trip.
"He lost 20 pounds on the flight over, but it took him only two days to put the weight back on and he seems to be thriving here," Chang said from Dubai. "He's eating well, he's just where we want him to be.
"He hasn't raced since the Hong Kong Sprint, so obviously he'll be even better in three weeks with a run under his belt."
The son of Holy Roman Emperor is unbeaten on all-weather surfaces, winning twice on the dirt track at Sha Tin and breaking his maiden on the polytrack at Dundalk in Ireland. Chang and jockey Olivier Doleuze believe he's taken to the Tapeta surface - a mixture of sand, fibre, rubber and wax - like an old hand, after a stirring gallop on Thursday.
"He worked his last 200m in 11 seconds, and he did it with ease. The track holds no issues," Chang said.
"Half the battle is ensuring they handle the surface," Doleuze said. "He's at least a class better on the all-weather track in Hong Kong than he is on turf, and it's a shame there are no races for him at home on the dirt."
Doleuze, who won the Al Shindagha Sprint on Ricky Yiu Poon-fai's Dynamic Blitz in 2011, says Rich Tapestry's tactical speed and versatility is an advantage, especially from barrier five.
"He's quite a simple horse to ride, in that you can put him anywhere in a race. The fact he can race on pace will help him, as the last thing you want to be facing on that surface is traffic."