Tony Cruz faces the possibly the greatest challenge of his training career to win the Sprinters' Stakes in Japan with fallen idol Silent Witness on the evidence of his defeat in yesterday's barrier trial at Sha Tin. However, owner Archie da Silva has declared the return visit to Nakayama is on, saying the only issue is with fitness. 'I was actually happy with the way he performed - the way he pinged out of the barriers, went to the front, enjoyed the gallop and travelled well for Felix [Coetzee],' Da Silva said. 'He was beaten because he got a bit tired in the final stages. He's still fat, and weighs 1,280 pounds - that's a big horse. He has to lose another 20 pounds to be fit for Japan.' Silent Witness contested the first of five barrier trials over 1,200 metres on the all-weather track. He led comfortably until challenged by stablemate Floral Pegasus at the 300 metres. Once the battle was joined, Silent Witness and Floral Pegasus had the trial to themselves and pulled seven lengths clear of the remainder. The margin in favour of Floral Pegasus was a half length. Coetzee told Da Silva that Silent Witness 'blew heavily' on pulling up. 'Felix said that the way he's working now, compared to last year when he returned from Japan, is much better,' Da Silva said. 'Before it was like he was telling us to leave him alone, that he wasn't feeling well and he didn't want to do it. Now, he's jumping straight to the lead in his barrier trials. We feel it's just a fitness issue.' Da Silva said it would be a race against the clock to get Silent Witness fully fit for a defence of his Sprinters' Stakes title, hoping he could follow on from his blockbusting win in the event 12 months ago. 'I would say, at the moment, he is 85 per cent fit,' Da Silva said. 'He's still big and he looks big. It's now all up to Tony Cruz. He's got 16 days to do it, the race is on October 1.' Cruz was not at the track yesterday, having travelled to England for the graduation of his daughter, Antonia, from university.