04/03/2005 11:00PM

Silent Witness scores 16th straight

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Hong Kong Jockey Club
Silent Witness and jockey Felix Coetzee return victorious at Sha Tin.

Silent Witness added his name to a pantheon of greats that includes Ribot, Citation, and Cigar by winning his 16th race without a defeat in the $576,900 Chairman's Sprint Prize at Sha Tin on Sunday.

His victory in the six-furlong Group 1 event equals the accomplishment of his great-grandsire Ribot, a two-time Arc winner, who won all 16 of his career races. In equaling the record for consecutive victories shared by Citation and Cigar, he draws level with two American champions, neither of whom finished his career undefeated. The filly Hallowed Dreams also won 16 straight races in 1999-2000, mostly in Louisiana.

Breaking from post 13 in a field of 14 around a single right-handed turn on Sha Tin's turf course, the 1-20 Silent Witness laid three lengths off the pace in the early stages. He eased into the lead at the three-sixteenths pole under Felix Coetzee, the South African jockey who has ridden him in all of his starts. He soon went clear to score by 1 3/4 lengths over Tiber, with Cape of Good Hope third, two lengths farther behind.

Silent Witness, who has now won eight Group 1 races, ran the six furlongs on good to firm ground and equaled Sha Tin's track record of 1:08.40.

In picking up a pair of checks for owners Arthur and Betty da Silva - one for $346,140 for winning the race, a second of $256,400 as a bonus for winning the Hong Kong Jockey Club Champion Sprint Series, his second straight - Silent Witness became the highest-earning horse in Hong Kong history, with his bankroll of $5,786,550 surpassing that of Indigenous.

Next up for Silent Witness, a 6-year-old Australian-bred son of El Moxie trained by Tony Cruz, will be his first attempt beyond six furlongs, the seven-furlong, Group 2 Queen's Silver Jubilee at Sha Tin on April 24.