Japan association's rope trick saved the day

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 October, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 03 October, 2005, 12:00am

The Japan Racing Association was the saviour of Silent Witness's Sprinters' Stakes campaign on Saturday morning and earned high praise from the champion's camp in the wake of his victory yesterday.

When Silent Witness stumbled, lost rider Felix Coetzee and took off around the all-weather sand track, the even-money winner of yesterday's international Group One was looking more like even money not to run until he was caught after running just over a lap of the course.

Trainer Tony Cruz later said he wasn't concerned about the incident, but he clarified that comment yesterday after the gelding's powerful success.

'No, when I saw the Japan Racing Association people come on to the track and stretch a rope across it to stop Silent Witness when he was starting to go for a second lap, I thought I could still win this race,' Cruz said.

'But if they hadn't come out with the rope and he ran another round, I knew he had no chance in it - as simple as that.'

Owner Archie da Silva said Cruz had told him privately he had never seen anyone as professional as the JRA officials and track staff. 'When they produced that rope and stopped the horse doing another round, that was fantastic,' da Silva said. 'Now that might not have happened in Hong Kong in the same circumstances.'

In Saturday's incident Silent Witness was out for his usual slow saunter on the day prior to racing and going quietly along the back straight on the dirt course when he momentarily lost his footing in the loose dirt. As he stumbled, Coetzee went over the top and hit the deck. Even though the horse broke away and went about 11/4 times around the course he was only going half pace and did not exert himself too much - as was proved by yesterday's performance.