James Achieves fifth NZ Derby

Silent Achiever etched her named into the record books with a resounding victory in the G1 New Zealand Derby at Ellerslie on Saturday.

The Roger James trainee became the first filly to claim the Kiwi classic since Popsy (Sir Tristram) in 1993.  She is raced by Christchurch owner-breeder Kevin Hickman who also owns and operates Valachi Downs at Matamata.

Silent Achiever (3f O’Reilly – Winning Spree by Zabeel) travelled back in the field before improving three wide with cover to challenge for the lead at the top of the straight.  “I was really worried about the wet track,” James said.  “And then I had double doubts when James (McDonald) got to the front a long way from home.”

Silent Achiever won her maiden at Ellerslie in December and followed up with a fast-finishing third in the G2 Eight Carat Classic (1600m) at Ellerslie on Boxing Day before claiming the G2 Championship Stakes at Ellerslie, G3 Waikato Guineas at Te Rapa and G2 Avondale Guineas at Ellerslie.

The O’Reilly filly gave James his fifth win in the Derby.  He co-trained 1986 winner Tidal Light (Diagramatic) with Jim Gibbs and on his own account prepared Roysyn (Bakharoff) in 1995, Zonda (Zabeel) in 1997 and Hades (Zabeel) in 1999.

“I’ve always said Zonda was the benchmark but Silent Achiever is up there now,” James said.  “I think she may be something special.”

James will test that theory by setting the Derby winner for the G1 Storm Queen Stakes and G1 Australian Oaks at the Sydney autumn carnival.

Silent Achiever is a daughter of Waikato Stud-based champion O’Reilly and descends from the family of Victoria Derby runner up Sir Midas (Sir Tristram) and Kentucky Derby placegetter Pleasant Tap (Pleasant Colony).