04/22/2005 12:00AM

Silent Witness seeks No. 17


The Queen Elizabeth II Cup, a 1 1/4-mile, $1.79 million race that has attracted a sterling field of 14 runners from six countries, must share Sunday's Sha Tin bill with Silent Witness, who goes for a modern record 17 victories without a loss in the Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup in his first try at seven furlongs.

Silent Witness would surpass the undefeated record of the mighty Ribot as well as the winning streaks of Citation and Cigar if he can stretch out to take the $384,600 Group 2 Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup. A two-time Arc winner, Ribot retired undefeated in 1956 after 16 victories. With eight Sha Tin Group 1 tallies to his credit, Silent Witness will break from the rail in this one-turn, seven-furlong event. The competition figures to come from Tiber, runner-up to Silent Witness last time in the six-furlong Chairman's Sprint Prize, and Scintillation, recent winner of the Group 1 Hong Kong Classic Mile.

The QE II Cup, first leg of the World Series Racing Championship, has attracted two winners from Dubai World Cup night. Elvstroem, who led throughout to take the 1 1/8-mile Dubai Duty Free, has already won three Group 1 races going 1 1/4 miles in Australia. Among his challengers is Phoenix Reach, winner of the 1 1/2-mile Dubai Sheema Classic. Phoenix Reach previously won the 1 1/2-mile Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin in December.

Elvstroem will be challenged for the lead by the German horse Epalo, who had the misfortune to draw post 14. The winner of the 1 1/4-mile Singapore Airlines International Stakes last May, Epalo has not run since chasing home Magistretti in last September's Man o' War at Belmont Park. He is one of two Gary Tanaka entries, the other being Touch of Land, who was third in December's Hong Kong Cup over the QEII course and distance.

Another Aussie invader may loom largest of all. Grand Armee has won five Group 1 races at the QEII distance, most recently having taken his second Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick on April 2. He rates a favorite's chance although he has drawn wide in post 13.

The Mike de Kock-trained Greys Inn from South Africa completes the foreign contingent, but the invaders must beware of the fast-improving Vengeance of Rain, who is coming off a sharp score in the 1 1/4-mile Hong Kong Derby.