01/30/2004 1:00AM

Silent Witness heads dash


Silent Witness, one of the most exciting sprinters to appear on the international scene in years, will attempt to stretch his unbeaten record to nine in Sunday's $578,000 Bahunia Sprint Trophy at Sha Tin in Hong Kong.

A 4-year-old Australian-bred gelding, Silent Witness looked impressive when he defeated the South African sprint champ, National Currency, in the Hong Kong Sprint on Dec. 14. He also soundly defeated European group race winners Acclamation, The Trader, and The Tatling that day. Trained by former rider Tony Cruz, he will be ridden by Felix Coetzee.

At equal weights, Silent Witness looms a short-priced favorite to turn back the challenges of Cape of Good Hope and Firebolt, who were third and fourth in the Hong Kong Sprint.

The five-furlong Bahunia is the first leg of the Hong Kong Jockey Club's Sprint Triple Crown, to be followed by the Centenary Sprint Cup on March 13 and the Chairman's Sprint Prize on April 25. If he successfully completes the triple, Silent Witness will be considered by Cruz and owners Antonio and Betty da Silva for a European campaign.