James unleashes Derby prospect

Tauranga racegoers were today treated to a glimpse of Roger James’ big hope for this season’s Gr. 1 $750,000 TV3 NZ Derby at Ellerslie on March 1.


The Cambridge trainer has won the NZ Derby on five occasions, beginning in 1987 with Tidal Light, the filly he trained in partnership with his mentor, Jim Gibbs. He has since won the race with Roysyn (1995), Zonda (1997), Hades (1999) and Silent Achiever (2012).


And now he has his NZ Derby hopes pinned on Roadie, a son of Danroad, who raced away with the Gartshore Construction 1400, the final event at Tauranga today.


Roadie had been a trials winner at Cambridge on October 8 and followed with a debut third to Budweiser at Te Aroha leading into today’s 1400-metre event. And the manner in which he raced away to score by three and a half lengths had James smiling from ear to ear.


“I’ve always thought if I have a Derby horse in the team this season it’s this one,” said James as he watched rider Matt Cameron return the gelding to the winner’s enclosure.


“He’s a good mover and he’s got a laidback attitude. I’ve liked him from the start and I’m not surprised to see him do what he did today.


“He’ll be set for the Derby. I’ll go home and carefully work out a preparation to get him to the Derby. I think he’s up to it.”


Roadie began well in today’s event and after tracking the leader in the early stages he was eased to be fourth on the outer with 1000 metres to run.


Approaching the home turn Cameron let Roadie slide forward and after challenging on straightening he raced clear to win inside the final 200 metres to win untested from Skyalla with Bagsagold and Joanna the next pair.


Roadie is from the American-bred mare Mrs. Guilty (by Mr. Leader), who won eight races from a mile (1600m) to nine furlongs (1800m) in the United States.


“Tony Fleming, who bred and owns Roadie (with his wife), bought his dam off Trade-me for $5000,” said James.


Roadie’s grandam, Guilty Lass, was a stakeswinner and winner of eight races, and the family already includes a Derby performer, General John B, who won the Listed Turf Paradise Derby and was runner-up in the Gr. 1 Santa Anita Derby.