Bidding fond farewell to old friends
Three departures - two human and one equine - grabbed headlines during this season of change.
David Oughton, best known as the English gentleman who prepared the globetrotting Cape Of Good Hope, left at the end of November after 20 satisfying years in Hong Kong.
Although he rarely, if ever, had a full yard, Oughton always seemed to have a good horse and in 2004 had the rare distinction of having a runner in each of the four international races in December.
Cape Of Good Hope became the first dual overseas Group One winner for Hong Kong, with his victories in the Golden Jubilee Stakes at York, England, and the Australia Stakes at Moonee Valley in 2005, while Oughton's biggest win locally was the 2002 Hong Kong Cup with Precision.
In the second half of the term, Robbie Fradd departed for Singapore, where he now does most of the riding for South African compatriot Patrick Shaw. Fradd, champion jockey of 2000, was best known as the pilot of world-class milers Fairy King Prawn and Electronic Unicorn.
On the racehorse front, we said goodbye to the greatest of them all, Silent Witness, who eventually succumbed to the limitations of age, but not before being named the world's best sprinter for three straight years (2003-05).
Silent Witness was, unfortunately, many lengths from his championship best at the finish of his career, languishing near the tail of the field at his final start in the Centenary Sprint Cup in February.
Silent Witness won 18 races - the first 17 in succession - and the 18th coming when he dominated Japan's best in the 2005 Sprinters Stakes at Nakayama. He had the same personnel by his side throughout his career - trainer Tony Cruz, jockey Felix Coetzee and mafoo Hung Fuk-nin. He now resides at a retirement horse park near Melbourne airport.