From the Commentary Box – Monday, 24th March 2014

Last Saturday’s Ranvet Stakes at Rosehill was billed as a two horse race.

The long anticipated clash between Cambridge glamour galloper It’s A Dundeel and Melbourne Cup winner Fiorente had racegoers savouring the clash.

Australian racing media labelled the clash as the race to determine who is the best racehorse in Australasia.

However, as is often the case in this game, the script didn’t quite go to plan. 

Yes, the winner was a Cambridge trained galloper.

But it wasn’t It’s A Dundeel.

While It’s A Dundeel battled home for third in the Group One feature, it was the former NZ Derby winner Silent Achiever who powered to a memorable win.

Sent out at odds of nearly 10 to 1, Silent Achiever justified the faith of her trainer Roger James when scoring a thrilling win over pacemaker Carlton House.

“It was quite enjoyable listening all week to the media saying it was a two horse race because there was not the normal pressure on us going into a Group One race” said James after watching Silent Achiever claim the win.

Ridden by top Aussie jockey Nash Rawiller, Silent Achiever was sent forward from a wide gate to settle handy to the leader Carlton House.

“Roger (James) said to let her race where she was comfortable so I let her stride along at her own tempo and she settled beautifully” said Rawiller.

Carlton House, owned by Queen Elizabeth, was setting a moderate tempo in front before his rider Kerrin McAvoy allowed him to quicken mid race, eventually establishing a healthy break over his rivals.

Rawiller, trailing on Silent Achiever, was always confident of picking up the pacemaker though.

“Coming to the home turn, I thought I had the leader covered but I was waiting for It’s A Dundeel and Fiorente to make their moves” he said.

Unbeknown to Rawiller was the “personal” battle between the respective riders of the two favourites, James McDonald on It’s A Dundeel and Damien Oliver on Fiorente.

Just after the start, McDonald eased his mount off the rail pushing Fiorente three wide.

And he was perfectly entitled to do so too I might add.

Obviously with a rider of the calibre of Oliver, there was going to be some consternation and, in all probability, some retribution as well.

It came shortly after finding himself three wide in a Group One race.

Oliver sent Fiorente forward around It’s A Dundeel and on the way past “brushed” McDonald.

Post race enquiry by the stewards saw both riders spoken to advisedly over their obligations.

Personally, I thought McDonald out rode Oliver on this occassion and I enjoyed their battle.

However they had to take a back seat to Silent Achiever on Saturday.

For owner Kevin Hickman and trainer Roger James, the win was sweet vindication for their pride and joy.

“I think she showed today that on her day she can compete with the very best around” said James.

Silent Achiever has been a regular visitor to Australia since her three year old season.

And she has always performed creditably against town hall company.

This season though as a five year old mare, she seems stronger than ever before.

“We had issues with her maintaining her ideal racing weight earlier on but she has improved a lot since then” said James.

There was another important factor to her success too.

The addition of blinkers has seen a marked turnaround in Silent Achiever’s racing pattern.

“They (blinkers) have sharpened her up” said James.

“Previously she would settle well back in her races and come storming home but since the blinkers have been added she can race more forward in her races and that makes her very competitive” he added.

Silent Achiever will continue her Aussie campaign with the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, BMW Stakes and Sydney Cup possible options.

Judging by, arguably, her career best win last Saturday, she will be a major player too.

I will catch you next week.