Hong Kong star can trace bloodline to famed thoroughbred of the mid-1950s Assuming Silent Witness maintains his winning habit in tomorrow's Group One Chairman's Sprint Prize, he will have extended his unbeaten career to 16 wins and thereby equalled the 49-year-old benchmark set by one of the greatest thoroughbreds of all time - the mighty Italian champion Ribot - who just happens to be Silent Witness's great-great-great grandfather. Ribot, the wonder colt of the early- to mid-1950s, was bred by the famous northern Italian horseman Federico Tesio, who had also bred and owned the celebrated Nearco, unbeaten in 14 starts through 1937-38 and who also makes a distant contribution to the genetic make-up of Hong Kong's superstar. Ribot was named after the 19th century French painter Theodule-Augustin Ribot. He was an amazing racehorse, whose quality may not have been fully appreciated because 13 of his 16 runs were in his native Italy. But on the three occasions he ventured overseas to prove himself, his impact was devastating, against the best competition England and greater Europe could provide. Racing historian Harsh Thakor described Ribot as 'truly a racing machine ... [who] simply set the racing world ablaze as no horse had done in the century before in Europe.' A true Muhammad Ali in the sport of kings. Ribot's phenomenal acceleration combined with his stamina made him an equine superstar. Ribot's sire, Tenerani, had won the Goodwood Cup and the Italian Derby. His dam Romanella won five of her seven races as a two-year-old. He was trained by Ugo Penco and ridden throughout his career by Enrico Camici. After overcoming two bouts of lameness, and a nagging mid-season cough as a three-year-old, Ribot proved totally superior to anything Italy could offer, so Penco travelled him to Paris for the European autumn championship, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. The glamour colt simply trounced his opponents as if they were outrider ponies. He won by three lengths from Beau Prince, with the beaten division including Rapace (winner of the French Derby), Douve (French Oaks), Zarathustra (Irish Derby), Macip (French St Leger) and Hugh Lupus (Irish 2,000 Guineas). Two weeks later, this time back on familiar territory in Italy, Ribot won the Premio de Jockey Club by 15 lengths from the reigning domestic weight-for-age champ Norman, who had won the race in each of the previous two years. In 1956, Ribot returned to annihilate the opposition in his first four domestic races before having a crack in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes - the mid-summer European weight-for-age decider at Ascot. He ran in soft, sticky ground which reportedly caused him problems, but not enough to stop him winning the Group One mile-and-a-half by five lengths. After another 10-length victory on home soil, Ribot went back to Paris to defend his Arc de Triomphe crown. This time, he was pitted against the winners of the English and French Oaks, the past two Irish Derby winners, the hero of the Grand Prix de Paris, a Washington International winner and a Belmont Stakes runner-up. In the straight, Camici let go of his mount and, according to Thakor, Ribot 'cruised away like a missile, winning in devastating style'. This was win number 16 and his last racecourse appearance. Timeform credited Ribot with a rating of 142, the closest any middle-distance galloper has come to Sea-Bird's all-time peak rating of 145. Ribot started his stud career at Lord Derby's Woodland Stud at Newmarket, where he lasted for two seasons before moving to Italy, and eventually to John Galbreath's Darby Dan Stud in Kentucky. He died from complications of a twisted bowel on April 28, 1972, after proving a major sire of classic winners on both sides of the Atlantic. One of Ribot's most important winners was Tom Rolfe, winner of the 1965 Preakness Stakes, and who in turn sired Hoist The Flag. While Hoist The Flag perhaps is best known for siring Robert Sangster's champion Alleged, who emulated Ribot by winning back-to-back Arcs in 1977-78, he also had an interlude with Northern Dancer's fabled mother, Natalma, which produced a filly called Raise The Standard, whose greatest claim to fame is being mother of El Moxie, an American dirt racer who has now achieved worldwide fame as the sire of Silent Witness.