By Alan Carasso
Over the next week or so as this year’s event approaches Dec. 10, Alan Carasso will take a look back at his top six moments in the history of the Hong Kong International Races. Silent Witness shot to Hong Kong superstardom with seven in a row to begin his career and faced the world for the first time at the international races in December 2003. And it was only the beginning.
#2 SILENT WITNESS – 2003 Hong Kong Sprint
The rise of Silent Witness, an unassuming gelding by the Conquistador Cielo stallion El Moxie, was nothing short of meteoric. The bay was undefeated in five starts in 2002-2003 and tacked on a couple more wins the following season to enter the 2003 Sprint as the prohibitive favourite. Standing in his way of an eighth consecutive victory and a first Group 1 success was the South African champion National Currency (SAf) (National Assembly), winner of every important sprint at home and nearly untouchable over the 1000 metres. Sent off at 30 cents on the dollar in front of an adoring racing public, Silent Witness jumped alertly but was content to let the South African do the dirty work and took the sit from off his flank in second. Held together by his constant partner, the South African Felix Coetzee, Silent Witness still trailed entering the final 400 metres, but when push came to shove, he answered the call and surged past to score by a length and a legend was born (video). He followed up in 2004 and ran his unbeaten streak to 16 before tasting defeat for the first time when stretched to a mile for the 2005 Stewards’ Cup.