Trainer Roger James will have the TAB bookmakers breathing down his neck, as will those watching The Falls Restaurant and Mullins Tyres Avondale Guineas at Ellerslie tomorrow.

The TAB bookies have the James-trained Silent Achiever sitting precariously as equal favourite for the $750,000 Telecom New Zealand Derby with the filly yet to be nominated, or even declared a certain starter.

Silent Achiever is at $3.60 joint favourite with Ocean Park, who she beat comfortably in the Waikato Guineas on February 4.

Going forward to the Derby on March 3, much will depend on how this race goes for Silent Achiever and how she comes through it.


James has admitted he has been torn between a start in the Derby and the fillies' races at the Sydney autumn carnival.

However, now he seems more locked into the Ellerslie classic, provided the exceptional filly progresses well.

The $22,500 late fee to nominate for the Derby is not due until February 28.

"Obviously, we wouldn't be paying that until we were certain she's come through this race well and is in good order."

James says he's getting a lot of assistance from Silent Achiever, who has suddenly burst into the headlines with a claim as possibly the country's best 3-year-old.

"She's so easy to train. She helps you all along the way."

The way Silent Achiever has sprinted hard and quickly from towards the back of the field to win the 2000m Championship Stakes at Ellerslie and the 2000m Waikato Guineas, it's difficult to imagine what can get in her way this time.

Those sprints have been electric.


The TAB showed what it thought of tomorrow's contest when it had Silent Achiever lonely on top of the market at $1.60. Shuka was second favourite on $5.50, then Carrick at $7.50 and the remainder at any old price.

With the aid of the No 1 barrier, Shuka deserves some consideration.

The former South Islander was only a fraction more than half a length from Silent Achiever at the finish of the Championship Stakes at Ellerslie on January 1 and had to cover a bit of extra ground when third to her at Te Rapa last week.

That was Shuka's first start in five weeks and he will understandably be sharper this time.

Guess What is under the radar so far, but he has gradually improved with each of his six career starts.

He had a pretty good run behind the leaders in the Waikato Guineas and fought strongly for fourth. He has drawn well and can get some of this.

Carrick is improving and there was a lot to like about Mr Chez's narrow defeat by an older horse under 58.5kg at Te Rapa last week.