Racing in front of a home crowd that erupted when he entered the track at Sha Tin Racecourse Sunday, Hong Kong-based Silent Witness earned back-to-back wins in the HK$14 million (US $1,803,891) Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint (HK-I).
Last year's Hong Kong Horse of the Year completed the 1,000-meter (five furlong) distance in :56.80. Cape of Good Hope was 1 3/4 lengths behind, with Natural Blitz beaten more than four lengths by the winner. Battle Won, the lone American on the international race card, finished eighth of 14 runners.
The win by Silent Witness prompted owner Arthur "Archie" de Silva to say his runner would race outside of Hong Kong next year, with the NetJets Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) at Belmont Park a possibility. "We are considering going abroad next year," da Silva said following a festive winner's circle celebration. "First we have to find out if he can go 1,600 meters and if he can we go anywhere in the world. The Breeders' Cup is a possibility so is Dubai. But first and foremost he is a Hong Kong horse."
Trainer Tony Cruz said Silent Witness would remain in Hong Kong through early April to "hopefully clean up the three legs of the Champion Sprint Series and that will bring us up to Cigar's winning record of 16 wins in a row.
After breaking a tad behind Silent Witness and jockey Felix Coetzee quickly gained momentum and eased to an impressive win.
"He was very relaxed before the race and he had a flying start," Coetzee said. "He was going so well and as they passed the crossover at the 400 meter mark, I thought 'you're going to hit the front too soon' then he just picks up and at the 200 meter mark he start picking up his ears. It was a very easy win. Perhaps one of the easiest I have ever had on him."
Charles Simon, trainer of Battle Won, was quick to give props to the winner.
"The winner was just a different caliber of horse," Simon said. "My horse ran ok, but the winner is just in a level of his own. I don't think any horse in the world could beat him at this distance."
Simon said Battle Won seemed to miss the break and appeared to lose two lengths early on. "I knew the distance would be a little short for him and running on the straight was different. (Jockey) Kieren (Fallon) said he got the hang of it about the 100-meter mark but no one was going to beat the winner today."