04/25/2004 11:00PM

River Dancer upsets QEII


River Dancer gave a strong international field a 57-1 thrashing in the $1.8 million Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Sha Tin on Sunday, and Silent Witness lived up to his billing as the world's best turf sprinter with a record-setting performance in the Chairman's Sprint Prize.

The first leg of the World Series Racing Championship, the Group 1 QEII was supposed to boil down to a battle between Dubai Duty Free dead-heaters Paolini and Right Approach, although locals had high hopes for their Hong Kong-trained 6-5 favorite, Lucky Owners. But none of them was in the picture as Right Approach came home fifth, Lucky Owners sixth, and Paolini a dull 13th, one place behind the equally disappointing American hope, Sarafan, who plodded in 7 3/4 lengths behind the winner.

A gelded 5-year-old son of Sadler's Wells, River Dancer led at the sixteenth pole to defeat last year's runner-up, Elegant Fashion, by three-quarters of a length, getting the 1 1/4 miles in 2:01.40 on good-to-firm turf. Trained by John Size, he had formerly raced as Diaghilev when trained in Ireland by Aidan O'Brien, and had been winless in his last 15 starts.

The 1-10 Silent Witness led throughout to take the Group 1, $577,000 Chairman's Print Prize, speeding six furlongs in 1:08.60. His margin of victory over Cape of Good Hope was 2 1/4 lengths.

For Silent Witness, it was a Hong Kong-record 11th victory without defeat. But his owner, Archie da Silva, disappointed many when he said that would not travel to England for Royal Ascot.