Roger James was probably the person who needed the least convincing about Silent Achiever.
The Cambridge trainer has had a big opinion of the O'Reilly filly for quite some time.
He had guided her to wins in the Gr II Championship Stakes (2100m) at Ellerslie and the Gr III Waikato Guineas (2000m) at Te Rapa in the leadup to Saturday's Gr II $85,000 Avondale Guineas (2100m) at Ellerslie.
Like the punters who backed Silent Achiever into $1.50 favouritism on Saturday, James expected the Kevin Hickman-bred and raced filly to win.
But if there was any lingering doubts, Silent Achiever exploded those into oblivion with a sterling 1 1/4-length win, with successful jockey James McDonald not even asking the filly to reach top speed.
"Totally sold,'' was James' reaction afterwards.
"She's the complete racehorse. You might question the form of the race, but you can't question what she did. It was an enormous performance. The turn of foot she showed today was reminiscent of the best horses I've been associated with.''
Among the best horses James has been linked with are New Zealand Derby winners Zonda, Tidal Light, Roysyn and Hades.
Silent Achiever's win persuaded TAB bookmakers to slash her quote for the Gr I $750,000 New Zealand Derby (2400m) at Ellerslie on March 3 from $3.50 to $2.20.
Saturday's Avondale Guineas victory credited James with his fourth in the race after Tidal Light, whom he co-trained with Jim Gibbs, Zonda and Danamite.
It wasn't a vintage Guineas field but Shuka has been consistent in Group company throughout the season and he closed well for second after getting inconvenienced in the straight, nosing out third-placed Carrick on the line.
Travolta ran home well for fourth, with Roamin producing a solid staying performance to finish fifth.
McDonald settled Silent Achiever at the back of the 11-horse field, improving wide around the field on the home turn, ranging up to the leaders quickly and hitting the front early in the run home.
From there McDonald focused on keeping the filly's mind on the job, urging her hands and heels to the line and ensuring she maintained a comfortable buffer on her chasing rivals.
"She's incredible. For me not to even hit her ... man, she is incredible - she is real good,'' McDonald said.
"We got back but it but I didn't worry where I was because I knew I was on the best horse. She's just real good. I've learned even more today. You won't see me hitting the front at the top of the straight in the Derby, that's for sure.'' James, who will pay the $22,500 late entry fee for the Derby for Silent Achiever next Tuesday, yesterday said the filly had come through the race in excellent order.
He said one of the most heartening aspects of Silent Achiever's performance was how quickly she picked up her rivals when McDonald set her alight approaching the home straight.
"She got there very quickly and probably a bit early in the piece but she stayed on to the line with ease. It was very impressive,'' James said.
"I couldn't have been more pleased. She relaxed beautifully and she's outstayed them. She's a pretty easy filly to trained. She's only done one piece of fast work between Te Rapa and today and she won't have to do a lot before the Derby.''
- Waikato Times