Recent history works in favour of Roger James’s visiting New Zealand mare Silent Achiever in Saturday’s 2014 Underwood Stakes who is looking to become the fourth Kiwi-trained winner of the Caulfield classic in as many years.
The four-time Group 1 winning daughter of O’Reilly is one of 25 nominations for this year’s $400,000 Group 1 Hyland Race Colours Underwood Stakes (1800m) which headlines the Melbourne racing action on the weekend.
The key Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate springboard has been dominated in recent years by New Zealand raiders with three from across the Tasman winning on the trot.
The first was the ill-fated Lion Tamer (2011) before Ocean Park (2012) and then superstar It’s A Dundeel (2013) 12 months ago.
On Saturday Silent Achiever will look to keep that imposing record going as the six-year-old continues her spring campaign down under having pulled through her first-up run in good order.
“She’s well,” James told AAP on Monday.
“I’m happy with her.”
She was the gun weight-for-age horse of the autumn down under backing up from a New Zealand Stakes win back home to take out Sydney’s Ranvet Stakes – The BMW double.
That season was a huge improvement then on her spring from last year where her best effort was a sixth to subsequent Cox Plate runner-up Happy Trails in the Group Turnbull Stakes (2000m) after which she ran eighth to Fawkner in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m).
Both the Turnbull Stakes on October 4 at Flemington and the 2014 Caulfield Cup a fortnight later are possibilities for Silent Achiever again this spring after the Underwood, as is the $3 million Group 1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 25 for which she’s the $11 second pick through Ladbrokes.com.au to win.
James is delaying his decision on the Caulfield Cup v Cox Plate with Silent Achiever however until next month.
“I won’t make a decision on that until late in the piece,” he said.
“There’s no necessity to make a decision until the last minute. By that time we’ve watched the opposition and seen where they might be going and how they are going, and how we are going as well.
“Then we can put it all into the cauldron and hopefully come out with the right answer.”
Last spring she returned with a distant 11th when blocked for a run in the Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m), won by Atlantic Jewel, before her sixth to It’s A Dundeel in the Underwood.
Her improvement since has been huge however and first-up this preparation she was a nice fourth to the Peter Moody-trained Dissident in the Memsie in a solid effort over a trip short of her preferred.
James then is hoping she can continue the form and be a competitive force on Saturday where she could face off against the likes of Dissident, Melbourne Cup favourite The Offer and a host of Chris Waller-trained stars including Sacred Falls.
The 2014 Underwood Stakes final field and barrier draw are due for release on Wednesday.
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