In the absence of the great Silent Witness, today's $3 million Cathay Pacific International Sprint Trial over 1,000 metres has been thrown wide open but Natural Blitz, well known in his previous as a champion in Macau, can finally make his mark on Hong Kong racing. Natural Blitz became a phenomenon last year in Macau, winning his first eight starts, often by big margins, and claiming the Group One Director's Cup at his fourth start, followed by a 1,000m track record four runs later when winning by six lengths in the time of 55.4 seconds. Trainer Malcolm Thwaites then threw the Maroof gelding in the deep end, bringing him to Hong Kong to tackle Silent Witness in the $10 million Hong Kong Sprint over 1,000m. And it was a gamble that paid off, with Natural Blitz running the race of his life to finish third to Hong Kong's unbeaten champion, with dual international Group One winner Cape Of Good Hope finishing second. Owner Danny Lam Yin-kee decided Natural Blitz would remain in Hong Kong following that brave performance but, as has happened with so many that have tackled the world's best sprinter over the past three seasons, he suffered the Silent Witness hangover. The dominance of Silent Witness is crushing. He has the capability to leave his rivals bottomed out and recovery is no overnight process. It happened with Planet Ruler, who was the first horse to ever test Silent Witness before eventually going down by a neck back in October, 2003. Planet Ruler was well fancied in several starts following that gallant effort behind Silent Witness, but it was not until a year later he finally regained his winning form. David Hayes, who trained Planet Ruler at the time, believed the gelding gave his all the day he loomed to beat Silent Witness but he paid the price in the subsequent season. It's too early to be adamant, but it seems Country Music, who ran two grand seconds to Silent Witness last season, has not quite been the same horse since, although he too gets his chance to bounce back in today's Sprint Trial. Natural Blitz raced another four times last season but was nowhere near the horse he was on international day with his dominant early speed missing. He resumed this season under the care of Derek Cruz and the early signs were positive with the five-year-old jumping straight to the front at Sha Tin on October 9 and fighting strongly to finish fourth to Able Prince. He made the speed second-up over 1,200m but faded in the straight behind Figures but there is little doubt his optimum distance is 1,000m. Cruz took Natural Blitz to Happy Valley last Saturday morning and the gelding turned on display that was more like his old Macau self, bouncing straight on the lead and decimating his rivals, winning by 61/2 lengths in blistering time. While all the signs point to Natural Blitz being back to his best for today's Group Two event, there is considerable depth in the race with John Moore's stablemates Able Prince and Billet Express looking primed to run well, and Country Music is starting to show signs he's back on song. Able Prince, who cut Silent Witness to a length in this race last season, has been in brilliant form this preparation, winning his only two outings in dominant fashion. The five-year-old has continued to thrive in trackwork since and is expected to start a warm favourite. Billet Express ran a game first-up third to Able Prince with Moore opting for the blinkers this time around in attempt to close the margin between the pair. Country Music was bitterly disappointing first-up behind Able Prince but he has progressed well since, winning a trial on November 1 and turning in an excellent final piece of work with Classic Navigator, suggesting trainer Tony Cruz has been able to effect a substantial turnaround with the Danzero gelding. Danny Shum Chap-shing's Chateau King Prawn is the young gun of the field but has been thrown in the deep end here against many quality sprinters after landing his first Hong Kong win in Class Two company 15 days ago.