New Zealand trainer Roger James will not commit to a start for his star filly Silent Achiever at Ellerslie on Saturday because of the prospect of a heavy track.
Silent Achiever is the $2.80 favourite for the Group 1 NZ$750,000 Telecom New Zealand Derby (2400m) but James said he was reluctant to start his filly if the track was to be very wet as she would not be at her best.
“I’m hoping it’s a good track. The best horse usually wins on good footing. Class comes through,” James said.
New Zealand’s top jockey James McDonald has ridden Silent Achiever to victories at her last two starts on good tracks when she scored in the Group 3 NZ$70,000 HS Dyke Waikato Guineas (2000m) on February 4 then was a comfortable winner in the Group 2 NZ$85,000 The Falls Restaurant & Mullins Tyres Avondale Guineas on February 18.
“She’ll handle an off track a little bit but if it gets too heavy I don’t think she’ll start,” McDonald said.
“If Roger James lines her up she’ll be fine to start, she’ll handle it.”
McDonald rates the Kevin Myers trained Angelology the hardest to beat and said if he wasn’t riding Silent Achiever it would be the one he would be on after the pair combined to win the 2100m The Dominion Post St Leger Trial at Otaki on February 25.
“I really rate him as a high chance and if I wasn’t on Silent Achiever I’d love to be riding him,” McDonald said.
Ocean Park is another one of the fancies for the Derby who is under a cloud because of the weather.
Trainer Gary Hennessy was hopeful to reverse the placings with Silent Achiever after being beaten by her in the Waikato Guineas but is fearful of a wet track.
Hennessy said that Ocean Park was having his first run over ground in the Waikato Guineas and he wasn’t suited by the pace as they went along at a pretty good clip and he overraced when they got into the back straight.
“We’ve got him in a place where we want him but we’re really worried about the weather and should the track be slow he won’t start.”