Battle Won, the lone American runner in the Dec.12 Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint (HK-I) at Sha Tin, drew post five in a field of 13 runners for the $10 million (HK) 1,000-meter (five furlong) race. The four-race Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International race card was drawn inside the new $410-million (HK) retractable roof walking ring at Sha Tin.
Under the sponsorship of Cathay Pacific Airlines for the first time, each draw began with a representative of Cathay Pacific and the Hong Kong Jockey Club choosing a "boarding pass" with a name of a selected runner. Once the name of the runner was selected, a representative of the horse then chose a small plane and unveiled a barrier number. The representative then chose the next boarding pass.
Charles Simon, who conditions Battle Won for California resident Jay Manoogian, said he was pleased with barrier five. "I was very happy not getting post one or 14," the trainer said. "As far as a plan, I will leave it up to the jockey (Kieren Fallon). He has won more of these than I have."
The trainer also said he was pleased with the way Battle Won, who has an international rating of 106, was coming into the race. "He has adjusted perfectly," Simon said. "He is a very adaptable horse and that is one reason why we chose to enter this race."
A son of Honour and Glory
, Battle Won scored a three-length win over a sloppy Churchill Downs surface May 19, his first start for Simon after being privately purchased for $150,000 in early May. Since then, he finished third in the Aristides Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIIT) and scored wins in the Kentucky Cup Turf Dash Stakes and Woodford County Stakes.
"He is doing great and if he looses, I will have no excuses other than not being good enough," Simon said. "The competition is pretty salty here and we will see where we fit with the best in the world."
Giving Battle Won the stiffest challenge will be Silent Witness, who earned a length win over National Currency in the 2003 edition.
Five-year-old Silent Witness is seeking to become the first Hong Kong horse to win consecutive international titles. Undefeated in 12 starts, Hong Kong's Horse of the Year is also the world's highest-ranked sprinter and in his first start after a seven-month break he recorded a length win in the Cathay Pacific International Sprint Trial (HK-II).
Silent Witness, who will break from barrier six under jockey Felix Coetzee, is owned by Arthur "Archie" Antonio da Silva and trained by former legendary jockey turned trainer Tony Cruz.
"My bloodstock agent called this morning and said if you draw six or seven, you will win. I couldn't be happier." said owner Arthur "Archie" da Silva
The field for the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint (HK-I) includes:
1 -- Pivotal Point (S. Sanders)
2 -- Calstone Light O (N. Onishi)
3 -- Yell (Douglas Whyte)
4 -- Sunningdale (Y. Fukunaga)
5 -- Battle Won (Kieren Fallon)
6 -- Silent Witness (Felix Coetzee)
7 -- Cape of Good Hope (Mick Kinane)
8 -- Royal Millennium (T. Durcan)
9 -- The Tatling (R. Moore)
10 -- Natural Blitz (J. Didham)
11 -- Pivotal Point (S. Sanders)
12 -- Able Prince (Christophe Soumillon)
13 -- Var (Frankie Dettori)
14 -- Multidandy (W.M. Lai)