Michael Chang Chun-wai has been crying out for progressive, new horses and the affable trainer believes he might have one on his hands when Simply Spectacular steps out for the first time in 14 months on Sunday.
The five-year-old was an impressive debut winner in November 2019 when trained by David Hall but suffered two consecutive tendon injuries which put him out of action for a considerable amount of time.
With connections keen to race on, they moved the horse to Chang’s yard at the end of last season and the 59-year-old likes what he has seen.
With just two wins next to his name so far this term, the handler is hoping Simply Spectacular can help kick-start his stalled season in the Class Four Shau Kei Wan Handicap (1,200m).
“This horse – if he stays sound – I think he can move through the grades quite nicely, he is definitely not a Class Four horse,” he said. “I got him off David Hall at the end of last season. The owners always wanted to race on with him, even with his injuries.”
The son of I Am Invincible’s ability has been clear for all to see during three barrier trials for Chang, where he was strong through the line while under a tight hold.
Also boosting Chang’s confidence is the fact he has the backing of four-time champion jockey Zac Purton, who has given vital feedback in the lead-up to Sunday’s return.
“The jockeys always like him, whenever they come back they are saying he is a nice horse,” he said. “It has been a long time, I gave him three barrier trials to get him ready for Sunday and all three times he has trialled very well. I think he is a nice horse.
“His trackwork routine has been very good, it tells us he is ready to go back out there again so we want to see what he has.”
Chang admits he does not know what the future holds for his new stable acquisition, saying he is often wary of horses with such a long injury history, but maintains the galloper could not be in better order as he makes his racetrack return.
“I think he is quite OK now,” he said. “He had some problems with his tendons but now he is very stable.”
Earlier this month, Chang lamented a lack of “new blood” in his stable, saying he was stuck with a bunch of old horses who were maxed out in the ratings.
Currently on a mark of 57, Simply Spectacular could be exactly what he is looking for should he progress through the grades as hoped.
The Hong Kong International Sale graduate will not have it all his own way upon his return, however, with John Size-trained debutant Fantastic Way sure to attract considerable attention from punters.
The three-year-old has been a stand-out performer at the trials and will jump from barrier one under Joao Moreira.
The son of Swiss Ace is owned by the same connections of recent Group Three Chinese Club Challenge Cup (1,400m) winner Champion’s Way.