Racing: Silent Witness in an élite club after 17th straight win

Sprint superstar Silent Witness brought his unbeaten sequence to 17 in the Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup at Sha Tin yesterday. Archie da Silva's five-year-old, trained by Tony Cruz and ridden by Felix Coetzee, took the step up to seven furlongs in his stride and races beyond the confines of Hong Kong now beckon.

Sprint superstar Silent Witness brought his unbeaten sequence to 17 in the Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup at Sha Tin yesterday. Archie da Silva's five-year-old, trained by Tony Cruz and ridden by Felix Coetzee, took the step up to seven furlongs in his stride and races beyond the confines of Hong Kong now beckon.

Winning sequences have an undoubted fascination and form books are littered with them, at levels from Australian bush tracks to what are now Group or Grade Ones and 35 horses have equalled or bettered Silent Witness's laudable score, a truly remarkable one in the modern era. But only five have done it while remaining unbeaten, and only three of those - Kincsem, Eclipse and Karayel - retired without defeat.

The record is held by the Puerto Rican champion Camarero, who won the first 56 races of his career between 1953 and 1955.

He was not good enough for open competition, unlike the mare Kincsem. Foaled in 1874, she holds the unbeaten record with a perfect 54 from 54, at distances from five furlongs to two miles in her native Hungary, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Germany, France and, once, England, when she cantered home in the 1878 Goodwood Cup.

In America, 1798-foaled Bond's First Consul won his first 21 races, mostly in four-mile heats. Both Epsom-trained Eclipse (1764), the first truly great racehorse and Karayel (1970), the best to race in Turkey, were unextended in 18 starts. Careless (1751), in Britain, and Hanover (1884), in New York, won their first 17 starts.

Silent Witness's tally puts him ahead of the modern US record holders Citation, Cigar, Mister Frisky and Hallowed Dreams and the European unbeaten paragon Ribot, all on 16.

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