Witness is on track to break records, declares Cruz
'It's in excellent shape ...and suits Silent Witness perfectly'
Trainer Tony Cruz was talking about Silent Witness running faster than any Hong Kong horse has ever run after he walked the Sprinters' Stakes course at Nakayama yesterday in Tokyo - if something can be found to really push the champion sprinter.
In bright sunshine under blue skies that are forecast to continue until Monday, Cruz marched off from the 1,200m for a tour of the track with his wife Paulene, the horse's part-owner Betty da Silva and jockey Felix Coetzee, then declared it a very quick circuit.
'What's the course record here? This is a very fast track. They go gradually downhill a lot of the way, then there's a rise of several metres in the straight. I think with the ups and downs they would really run some time on a good to firm, and this track is quite firm,' Cruz observed, and he would be right.
The record of one minute and seven seconds was set by Trot Star winning the same race four years ago and on the kind of ground likely this on Sunday. 'Silent Witness has equalled the record at Sha Tin at one minute 8.4 seconds but with nothing to push him, hands down in the last part, so he can go faster and this track is quicker,' Cruz said.
'He can break some records if someone can push him.'
The Nakayama season opened on September 10 after a five-month recess, so the track has hosted just 72 races since April and some of those on the dirt track.
'The grass is fantastic, like new. It looks very much a course for a horse on the rail or on the inside - caught wide looks a big disadvantage,' Cruz commented.
'And it looks more a track for front-runners. To me, it's in excellent shape ...and suits Silent Witness perfectly.'
With meetings Saturday and Sunday, Nakayama will stage 22 races prior to the Sprinters' Stakes this weekend, but some are on dirt and others possibly on another turf circuit inside the main track.
'The track feels fine underfoot and with him going around the slightly tighter turn on the dirt this morning without any worry, I'm very happy,'
Coeztee said. 'Firm like this, the course shouldn't cut up on the inside. I mean, last year the winner, Calstone Light O, was in there and it was wet and that's when you would expect it to really cut up - if it's dry there should be no concerns.'
Coetzee may get a look at the track with a ride booked in the sixth race on Sunday over 2,000m, though the horse was not certain to gain a start yesterday morning.
'That would be nice to go around once beforehand but not essential. Silent Witness is so automatic to ride,' he said. 'Calstone Light O is in the race again and I guess they'll try to ride him the same way. Tony and I have talked about that and if a couple try to lead Silent Witness, I'll be comfortable letting them go - I'll know they're going too fast.'