Racing: NZ mare to repel invaders

By Mike Dillon

Classy Cambridge mare Silent Achiever is rapidly looking like the No1 Australasian hope to repel the Northern Hemisphere A$6 million Melbourne Cup invasion.

Delta Blues beats Pop Rock in the 2006 Melbourne Cup. Japan may repeat the dose this year.Picture / Getty Images
Delta Blues beats Pop Rock in the 2006 Melbourne Cup. Japan may repeat the dose this year.Picture / Getty Images

Classy Cambridge mare Silent Achiever is rapidly looking like the No1 Australasian hope to repel the Northern Hemisphere A$6 million Melbourne Cup invasion.

Make no mistake how difficult that will be - this is likely to be the strongest international contingent yet.

Despite the difficulties of transferring thoroughbreds to the reverse hemisphere, three raiders in the past eight years have already won the world's greatest handicap: Dunaden (2011), Americain (2010) and Delta Blues in 2006.

Silent Achiever thrilled trainer Roger James and her admirers with her first-up fourth in Saturday's 1400m Memsie Stakes at Caulfield.

Also the way she has come through that tough assignment. "I'm just thrilled with her," said James, who is back at his Cambridge base.

Although it probably would not have changed her finishing position, Silent Achiever would have finished closer to the first three, Dissident, Sweet Idea and Puissance de Lune had she not been squeezed for room in the closing 100m.

"When he came back in Damien [Oliver] asked if I wanted to have a look at the stewards' vision in the inquiry room," said James.

"I said: 'Should I?' He said you probably should but they won't change anything because I know the way they [stewards] operate here. Damien said having to take hold of the mare cost her between half a length and three-quarters of a length, so that made the run that much better."

European staying form is now considered brutally good Downunder, but it is the fact Japan will have two runners this year that puts a shiver through the connections of Australasian horses.

Equine influenza kept Japanese runners from Australia for several years. Tokai Trick finished 12th in the 2010 Melbourne Cup, but was not considered a leading prospect and the last time Japan became serious about the race in 2006, Pop Rock and Delta Blues arrived and thrashed the opposition.

Pop Rock started one of the favourites, but under Damien Oliver he could not hold out the longer-priced Delta Blues, with the rest struggling in their wake.

This year, the combination of Bande and Admire Rakti could be an even stronger pairing than Pop Rock and Delta Blues.

James is well aware of it after yesterday speaking to Silent Achiever's Melbourne Cup rider Nash Rawiller, who is on a lengthy riding contract in Japan.

"When I spoke to Nash he said the Japanese heading to Melbourne are serious racehorses," said James.

At this early stage of betting, Silent Achiever is about the $21 quote in Australia and Bande is as short as $15. He will be ridden by Frenchman Christophe Lemaire, who guided French-trained Dunaden to win the 2011 Cup. Zac Purton has been engaged for Admire Rakti, quoted between $17-$21.

Bande began his spring campaign with a five-length Listed Stakes win over 2600m on August 10.

One bit of good news for the Australasian brigade is that the most successful international Melbourne Cup trainer Dermot Weld has just declared he is now unlikely to bring high-class mare Pale Mimosa to Melbourne.

After indicating intent, the often difficult Irishman has said: "There is now not a lot of appetite for the trip."

- NZ Herald

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