Worrying times for Roger James

An appeal by James McDonald added to the concerns for Cambridge trainer Roger James in the leadup to the final day of the Melbourne Cup carnival at Flemington today.

McDonald was booked to ride James’ top mare Silent Achiever in the $A300,000 Matriarch Stakes, but he copped a 14-meeting suspension for his performance aboard runner-up Fiorente in last Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup. He pressed ahead and appealed the suspension, but the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary board’s dismissed the appeal yesterday afternoon.

McDonald’s suspension commenced yesterday and he won’t be able to ride again until November 20, meaning he will not only miss the ride on Silent Achiever today, but also Secret Admirer in the Emirates Stakes and also rides at Riccarton next Saturday, but Hong Kong engagements.

As a precaution in case McDonald’s appeal failed, James had Hugh Bowman on standby for Silent Achiever. Bowman has established a good record with Kiwi gallopers, including VRC Derby wins on Lion Tamer and Sangster, and he rode Silent Achiever during her Sydney Easter campaign last term which resulted a third in the Rosehill Guineas and a sixth in the ATC Derby.

Who will ride Silent Achiever today was a concern, but far from the biggest one for James, who is back in Melbourne with three horses — He’s Remarkable, Full Of Spirit and Silent Achiever.

James had a heart scare. He became ill in Melbourne soon after Silent Achiever’s win in the Group II Crystal Mile at Moonee Valley on October 27, but he was able to return to New Zealand. However, he was admitted to hospital in New Zealand last Friday after blood tests uncovered a problem with his heart.

Further tests revealed James has contracted giardia, an infection that can be contracted from bad water.

James was discharged from hospital last Wednesday and will be at Flemington today to saddle his three runners, but his condition is being monitored closely. He had suffered a heart attack in 2008.

Silent Achiever is poised to start the shortest-priced favourite of Melbourne Cup week in the Matriarch Stakes, in which she will attempt to complete a Melbourne double, having won so well at Moonee Valley.

‘This was the race I set Silent Achiever for and what we got last week was a bonus,” James told the media. “I think she’s far better placed this time than she was last time.”

Full Of Spirit will be one of Silent Achiever’s rivals today and will again be ridden by Steven Arnold. She finished on solidly to be three lengths from the winner in the Group I Myer Classic (1600m) and will be suited by the step up to 2000 metres today.

“She’s drawn the outside in all three of her starts this time in and he draws have cost her dearly,” said James.

He’s Remarkable will contest the Group I $1 million Emirates Stakes and be ridden by Glen Boss.

James is hoping for a complete change of luck in the race for He’s Remarkable as last year he was left on the ballot list, but won on the same card. He then lost the Group I Railway Stakes in Perth in a controversial inquiry.

He’s Remarkable has been freshened since his last start placing in the Group I NZ Bloodstock Spring Classic at Hastings, but faces barrier 14 today and will be carrying 57kg.