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Hong Kong racing 2016-17 season opening

End of the road? Retirement looms large after trailblazer Rich Tapestry withdrawn from Korea Sprint

Trainer Michael Chang wants to bring the curtain down on his eight-year-old’s stellar career, but will await bone scans next week before making a final decision

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 September, 2016, 1:31pm
UPDATED : Friday, 02 September, 2016, 1:33pm

Globetrotter Rich Tapestry has been withdrawn from next week’s inaugural Korea Sprint and even though trainer Michael Chang Chun-wai is leaning towards retiring the horse, he will await the results of bone scans next week before deciding on the veteran’s racing future.

Rich Tapestry would have started as one of the favourites in the US$700,000 event in Seoul but a poor barrier trial on Tuesday revealed the eight-year-old was struggling with joint soreness.

Chang’s stable star initially responded well to treatment but a veterinary inspection on Friday morning convinced the trainer to abort plans for his horse to travel abroad once again.

“He will have the scans sometime next week and I think it is something more than the joint. In my heart, it looks like retirement is coming,” Chang said. “The swelling is better, but it’s his action – he is really uncomfortable. To me, he isn’t walking properly and something isn’t right. Three or four weeks ago he was fine, but he has lost his action and his appetite isn’t very good either.

Rich Tapestry in doubt for Korea Sprint swansong after poor trial effort; could face immediate retirement

“We would have loved to go to Korea, we tried everything but he just isn’t right. I want to give the horse respect, I care about him a lot and I wouldn’t want to see him perform badly, or even worst, get badly hurt.”

Rich Tapestry shot to fame by becoming the first Hong Kong-trained horse to win on American soil, capturing the 2014 Santa Anita Sprint Championship before going on to be the first to compete at the Breeders’ Cup later that year.

The horse’s whole-hearted performances also gained worldwide recognition. The honest gelding won the 2014 Group Three Mahab Al Shimaal and the 2016 Group Three Al Shindagha Sprint and twice placed in the Group One Golden Shaheen, finishing second to compatriot Sterling City in 2014 and third to Secret Circle in 2015.

Had the pioneering galloper made the trip to South Korea, it would have been the seventh country in which the son of Holy Roman Emperor had competed after starts in Ireland, Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates, the United States, Singapore and Japan.