03/24/2006 12:00AM

The Curragh starts season


The Irish flat racing season opens at The Curragh on Sunday with Chenchikova, a full sister to High Chaparral, heading a field of 10 in the $120,000 Park Express Stakes, a seven-furlong race for fillies and mares that was upgraded this year to Group 3 status.

Trained by Aidan O'Brien, Chenchikova earned high praise for her two-length victory over 15 rivals in a 7 1/2-furlong maiden at Tipperary in her only previous outing, on Sept. 15. O'Brien has warned, though, that she could be withdrawn at the last moment because of the prevailing heavy ground.

Danehill Music, a course-and-distance handicap winner on heavy ground on Oct. 24, could be the main danger.

* Silent Witness, who lost at a sprint distance for the first time last out when he ran seventh in the Centenary Sprint Cup on Feb. 26, attempts to get back on track at Sha Tin on Sunday in the Group 1, $580,000 Chairman's Sprint Prize at six furlongs. He will face the first three from the Centenary: Scintillation, Natural Blitz, and Planet Ruler.