Witness holds key to Cape's travel plans - Oughton

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 February, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 24 February, 2006, 12:00am

'I would be happy to take my bloke to Dubai and avoid him'

Group One racing in two corners of the Asia Pacific rim will have global importance this weekend, particularly Sunday's Group One Centenary Sprint Cup (1,000m).

The Group One Oakleigh Plate in Melbourne tomorrow will have importance for the way the Global Sprint Challenge (GSC) unfolds this year, with the connections of Lightning Stakes winner, Takeover Target, and high class three-year-old Stratum already stating that Royal Ascot is on the agenda with their horses and their plans could fold or continue on their results at Caulfield.

However, the connections of the Australian sprinters will be keeping a close eye on Silent Witness, as will David Oughton, trainer of the champion's shadow, Cape Of Good Hope.

Oughton reported on Wednesday night at Happy Valley that all is well with the Cape Crusader, who was scratched from last week's Australia Stakes with a knee inflammation, and the trainer is already considering his next target.

'As I said at the time, the injury wasn't serious, just a case of giving the horse some rest and he would recover,' Oughton said.

'I expect that he would be right to race again by the end of March so there are two nice options for him. One is to run in Chairman's Sprint Prize here in Hong Kong, the other is the sprint on the dirt at Dubai World Cup night.'

The Dubai race is the Golden Shaheen worth US$2 million and run over six furlongs (1,200m) on dirt, a surface Oughton has long been keen to tackle with Cape Of Good Hope who is ineligible for any domestic dirt race.

'There are not many million dollar races for sprinters anywhere, so Dubai is very tempting but obviously they are never easy races to win, so where he goes will ultimately be determined by how Silent Witness shapes up on Sunday,' Oughton explained. 'If Silent Witness looks like he is back to form, then I would be happy to take my bloke to Dubai and avoid him. We could head on to the Royal Ascot legs of the GSC from there afterwards. If, however, Silent Witness does not look like he's back, then the easiest option of course would be to stay here for the Chairman's then go on to Ascot.'

Meanwhile, pin-up jockey Christophe Soumillon will be out for more glory on Sunday with Billet Express for John Moore in the Centenary Sprint Cup and Bullish Luck for Tony Cruz in the Gold Cup, the race he won last year for Cruz on Perfect Partner.

Soumillon has partnered 24 winners during his short term stint, which began in December, but is still shy of any record.

Robbie Fradd steered home 32 winners in a visiting role for the March-June tranche of the 1998-99 season, which stands as the benchmark figure.