Michael Chang eyes repeat win for Noble Alpha at Taipa
Trainer hopes to cap off remarkable season with success in Saturday's feature
It is said statistics do not lie, but figures do not accurately reflect a watershed season for Michael Chang Chun-wai - one that he hopes to cap off in style with Noble Alpha in today's Macau Hong Kong Trophy at Taipa.
Chang sits a lowly 19th in the trainers' championship, having sent out just 17 winners, but luck has not been on his side: he has 41 second placings, on a par with many at the top of the leaders' board.
Where the trainer has begun to break new ground is in the features - in which he previously had been just a bit player.
Rich Tapestry won in Dubai and finished second to compatriot Sterling City in the Golden Shaheen, while maiden Dibayani placed in the Derby, Classic Mile and Champions & Chater Cup.
"The wins might not be there, but I'm very happy with my overall performance," Chang said. "Hopefully, our performances in the features will deliver us results next season."
Chang hopes he can land another feature today in the Macau Hong Kong Trophy (1,500m) at the Taipa racecourse, where defending champion Noble Alpha leads a contingent of five raiders in the second leg of the interport series.
He is joined by Tony Cruz's 2012 Classic Cup winner Zaidan, Dennis Yip Chor-hong's Winning Leader, Deep Thinker for Ricky Yiu Poon-fai and Caspar Fownes' My Name Is Bond.
Chang said Noble Alpha's season, in which he has been consistent without winning, was planned around giving the seven-year-old the chance to be the race's first back-to-back winner.
"We targeted both interport races, and he ran on well enough in the first leg," Chang said.
"But the Macau leg was always our main target; it's the most suitable race for him. He needs a fast pace and the ground needs to have a bit of give. It doesn't take much for Taipa to be soft, so a little rain would be perfect."
Chang is not dismayed with drawing the outside gate and believes it may be a positive.
"He's drawn wide, but last year he drew in barrier 9 and it worked because he was always in the best ground," he said.