Silent Witness was denied a fairytale finale as Scintillation proved too powerful in the Centenary Sprint Cup (HK-I) at Sha Tin on Sunday.
The 7-year-old gelding Silent Witness, who twice won the Centenary Sprint Cup on the way to nine group I wins and 18 victories overall, was off the bridle once the gates opened for the 1,000-meter sprint and could only finish ninth of the 10 runners.
Scintillation, winning this race for a second year -- his third career major in all – was handled with customary cool by Eric Saint Martin for trainer Danny Shum and owners Mr. and Mrs. Hui Sai-fun. He had three-quarters of a length to spare from sprint championship rival Absolute Champion, the knockout winner of the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint (HK-I) in December over the 1,200-meter distance.
Absolute Champion is less potent at the minimum distance that is Scintillation's forte; the latter's four wins down the five-furlong straight have all been at Pattern level.
"You can never be too confident that they can return to their best form after bleeding but I was lucky to have an owner like Mr Hui. He said I could be extra patient with the horse and not to rush him back. I think this has made the difference," Shum said in reference to Scintillation's bleeding attack in March last year.
Shum said he was undecided on Scintillation's participation in the group I Chairman's Sprint Trophy at 1,200 meters, the next leg of the Champion Sprint Series.
Silent Witness won 17 straight races from his debut in December 2002 until April 2005, a feat that attracted global attention as he broke records set by his European ancestor, Ribot, and the American champions Cigar and Citation.
The streak included eight group I wins including two Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint titles and two Champion Sprint Series grand slams during 2003/04 and 2004/05. His 18th success came in the Sprinters' Stakes (JPN-I) in Tokyo in October 2005. He won over HK$62 million, a record.
The Australian-bred son of El Moxie was twice voted Hong Kong's Horse of the Year. and was the world's top ranked turf sprinter for three seasons.