DERBY WINNER-SILENT ACHIEVER
New Zealand's champion jockey James McDonald claimed his first win in the New Zealand Derby aboard the favourite, Silent Achiever, in the Group 1 $750,000 three-year-old feature at Ellerslie yesterday.
McDonald and Silent Achiever raced well clear of their rivals in the closing stages to win by two-and-a-half lengths from highly fancied runner, Rock 'N' Pop. In third place, a further head back, was Carrick who loomed up large to challenge at the top of the home straight.
McDonald was having only his second ride in the Derby and was delighted with his first victory. "She's an amazing filly with a great turn of foot," he said.
"She settled beautifully and when I asked her to go for it she found another gear," he said.
"I knew she was a big chance to win the race but the slow track was always going to be a concern," McDonald said.
McDonald's original Derby mount had been Knight's Tour but he switched to Silent Achiever after that horse was withdrawn.
McDonald revealed that Silent Achiever had slipped quite badly when she jumped out of the gates which thwarted his plans to ride her in a early position.
McDonald is keen to go to ride in Sydney again this autumn and is hopeful one of his mounts over there will be Silent Achiever.
Silent Achiever became the fifth winner of the race for Cambridge trainer Roger James who planned her campaign to perfection.
James left a final decision on a Derby start for the O'Reilly filly until earlier this week when he made the $22,500 late entry payment to secure her a start.
"It was a feeling of utter relief and joy, this means a lot to me", James said.
Silent Achiever's lead up to the Derby had included wins in the Waikato and Avondale Guineas which catapulted her into Derby favouritism.
James' previous NZ Derby winners had been Tidal Light (1986), Royson (1995), Zonda (1997) and Hades (1999).
Silent Achiever is owned by 61-year-old Christchurch businessman Kevin Hickman, who also bred the outstanding filly.