Silent Witness Well Beaten as Scintillation Takes Centenary Sprint

(from Hong King Jockey Club report)
The immediate racing future of Silent Witness will be decided in the coming days after the world's leading sprinter last year finished seventh behind winner Scintillation at Sha Tin on Sunday.

Silent Witness was under pressure from the early stages of the Centenary Sprint Cup (HK-I) at 1,000 meters – the first of three legs of the Champion Sprint Series that he has swept for the previous two seasons – and he never threatened in his first racetrack appearance since contracting a low-grade virus after his Sprinters' Stakes success in Tokyo Oct. 2.

Silent Witness was beaten 5 1/2 lengths by Scintillation, who was a half-length too strong for runner-up Natural Blitz, winner of the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint (HK-I) last December. Planet Ruler filled third place.

Owner Archie da Silva, the chief recipient of Silent Witness' record earnings of HK$57.2 million, said he would consult with trainer Tony Cruz and jockey Felix Coetzee to decide the next phase of 6-year-old's career.

Cruz's immediate reaction, however, was to continue his program.
"There's only one race a month for him so we will have to keep going. He's a big, gross horse and needs more racing," he said.

Moments earlier, Da Silva said there was "nothing in the pipeline yet" after watching Silent Witness' first sprint defeat in 18 starts.

A post-race veterinary inspection of Silent Witness, who had been backed as a 1-2 favorite, did not show any significant findings.

It was the second group I win for sprinter-miler Scintillation, trained by Danny Shum and ridden by Eric Saint-Martin.

"The plan was to sit just behind the speed, so I tracked Natural Blitz and waited until my horse became balanced with about 200 or 300 meters to race," Saint-Martin said.

"He hangs in all the time this horse, so I decided to bring him outside and intimidate Natural Blitz a bit. That's what he was able to do, and he turned out best on the day."

Scintillation will now be primed for the second leg of the Champion Sprint Series, the Chairman's Sprint Prize (HK-I) March 26, the same day as the Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby (HK-I).