Memorable day for birthday boy

Roger James found the perfect way to celebrate his birthday at Ellerslie today.

The Cambridge trainer achieved a milestone in his career when The Tidy Express became his 1000th winner with a strong win in the Transpacific Industries Group 2100, then a race later he recorded his 26th Group One success when Silent Achiever raced away with the Lindauer NZ Stakes.

James was well aware he was on the verge of joining the group of great trainers to have prepared 1000 winners in New Zealand.

“I had been sitting on it (999) for 10 days and thought it might’ve come on Derby Day, but it didn’t, then on Cup day but I didn’t get it there either,” said James. “It’s something I’m proud of (landing 1000 wins).

“It takes a lot of doing and you don’t do it without having a lot of good people around you right from day one, staff and owners. It’s not just about me. It’s about everyone in the team.”

The Tidy Express’ milestone win for James came thanks to a patient ride by Pukekohe apprentice Rowena Smyth, who didn’t panic when back on the fence in the 2100-metre event.

“It’s the first ride I’ve given her and she’s done it admirably,” said James.

The Tidy Express was third-last coming to the home turn and Smyth improved the mare on the inside before switching off the fence with about 250 metres to run. Lion Red had a good lead at that stage, but Smyth urged The Tidy Express along and the Volksraad five-year-old got up to score by a half-length.

“I was a bit worried that far back,” said Smyth. “I didn’t plan to be on the rail but lucky it all opened up for me.”

The Tidy Express has now won four of her 17 starts and is a very promising stayer who could be an ideal prospect for the Gr. 3 Hawke’s Bay Gold Cup.