Milestone Group One quinella for Cambridge

Cambridge celebrated a memorable milestone at Rosehill yesterday when Silent Achiever and It’s A Dundeel combined for the quinella in the Gr. 1 A$1.5 million BMW Stakes.

The pair had clashed in the Gr. 1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) a fortnight earlier with Silent Achiever scoring a narrow win over Carlton House, while It’s A Dundeel, from Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman’s stable, finished a gallant third.

This time It’s A Dundeel was able to finish one placing closer and was determined in his finishing burst down the outer, but again the kudos belonged to Silent Achiever and her trainer, Roger James.

Silent Achiever shocked the Australians when winning the Ranvet Stakes. The race was billed as a two-horse battle between It’s A Dundeel and Fiorente, winner of the Melbourne and Australian Cups, but nobody told Silent Achiever and the NZ Derby winner dug deep to run down the pacemaking Carlton House.

On the strength of that Ranvet win Silent Achiever was given more respect by Australian punters yesterday, but late money for Fiorente saw her start second favourite behind the Gai Waterhouse-trained super stayer.

At the finish it was Silent Achiever by one and three-quarter lengths from It’s A Dundeel with Fiorente a short neck away in third placing. Twelve months ago Silent Achiever had been beaten by Fiveandahalfstar in the BMW so it was a deserved victory. 

“These are the best she is racing against and she has beaten them for the second time,” said James.

“And you’d have to say this was a much stronger field than she met in this race last year.”

The addition of blinkers on Silent Achiever this autumn has resulted in her being unbeaten in four starts and includes a hat trick of Group One wins, beginning with the Lindauer NZ Stakes at Ellerslie on March 8.

“She is a horse who has been a bridesmaid over here, but she is getting better and better with the blinkers on,” said her winning rider, Nash Rawiller.

To win three Group Ones in succession is an amazing feat, especially when two of them have been against the best horses mustered.

Her win was also the first in the BMW for New Zealand since Ethereal won the race for trainer Sheila Laxon and owners Peter and Philip Vela in 2002.  Miltak, in 1994, was the previous New Zealand-trained winner.

James and owner Kevin Hickman now have to decide whether Silent Achiever switches to the A$4 million Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) in a fortnight or sticks to the original plan of a silt at the A$1 million Sydney Cup (3200m).

“That’s a decision we will leave until the eleventh hour,” James said in the after-race interview. “That’s the good thing about having options.”

It’s A Dundeel will carry on for a tilt at the Queen Elizabeth Stakes following his solid performance yesterday.

“He had been half a run behind, but he got going again late today and is ready for a strong 2000 metres in the Queen Elizabeth,” said John Messara, managing owner of the multiple Group One winner.