Roger James finally has a mature Silent Achiever to work with and hopes the New Zealand mare can produce at a mile second-up for the third time in her career.
This time it will be at group 1 level as she kicks off an autumn campaign, which has been a year in the planning, in the Chipping Norton Stakes at Warwick Farm on Saturday.
"I have battled immaturity with her right through her career," James said of last year's New Zealand Derby winner. "That's why we decided to give her a light spring and targeted the autumn. You can't just keep racing them and she had a long three-year-old preparation, so we thought it was best to go that way."
Being a picky feeder, Silent Achiever has tested James' training ability but he was pleased to see her return stronger when she came back after a spell this time.
"She has never been that robust but she has strengthened up for this preparation," he said. "She probably matured more from the spring to autumn than she did from three to four, which is a good sign.
"I think we made the right decision but we won't know that until the end of the autumn."
Silent Achiever will target The BMW on Golden Slipper day, but there is still a chance she could run in the Doncaster if James believes that is the right option for the daughter of O'Reilly and Zabeel mare Winning Spree. "This run will tell us a lot about where we will go with her," James said. "She has always showed us that she would get a longer trip. That's why The BMW is our first target."
Silent Achiever steps up to 1600m at her second run in a campaign that mirrors her other two preparations and both of those resulted in victory. She won her maiden over a mile at Ellerslie and the campaign ended with a sixth in the Australian Derby. She stepped up in the spring winning the Crystal Mile at group 2, after a 1400m run to blow the cobwebs out.
"We are sticking with what we know works," James said. "This is another level again but it has worked before. It is a very good field and they are all there, I don't think there is one missing from what you would expect the field to be. She is getting ready for longer races and I would expect her to be hitting the line hard." Another positive for the Silent Achiever is the booking of James McDonald - he has ridden her to four of her six wins and met with defeat on her only once. That was when she returned from a spell as a runner-up over 1400m at Ellerslie on February 17 under 61 kilograms.
"James was actually over to ride something else and it worked out well that he could ride her," James said. "Another stride and she would have won that day and she has come on since. I think he was impressed [by the run] and it is a big plus having someone that knows her well in the saddle."
Punters have backed Silent Achiever from $8.50 to $8 in early betting on Sydney's first group 1 of the autumn, which is generally a tricky affair.
"She is the only one they have really come for early on," TAB.com.au's Glenn Munsie said. "There are a lot of questions over the form in the race with a lot of the runners coming out of the Apollo Stakes, which was run on a bog. The top two in betting, Manighar [$5] and Shoot Out [$6], are both first-up, which makes it even tougher. Shoot Out missed that run in the Apollo but did win first-up at weight-for-age over a mile in the spring."