Cambridge trainer Roger James celebrated training his 1000th winner in New Zealand by making it 1001 in the very next race when his outstanding mare Silent Achiever scored in magnificent style.
And the way the mare put her rivals away in the $200,000 New Zealand Stakes at Ellerslie yesterday, James will be building on his next 1000 winners mighty fast when she treks to Australia next for the big Sydney carnival.
James, basking in the glory of his rare tally and the fact it came by reuniting with his former No 1 rider Vinny Colgan, said he was proud of the milestone.
"But you don't get there on your own. It's about the staff, and the jockeys who have ridden for me and the horses." James could not remember the last time Colgan rode a Group I winner for him - they used to come with incredible regularity, especially in derbies.
"But he started his apprenticeship with me and this is a great revival of our Group I glory."
James scored 100 of his total when in partnership with Jim Gibbs, but has etched out a fine solo career since, with his great eye for detail and with class horses like Silent Achiever.
"That was a nice effort today but she probably had to do that to take on the assignments I have outlined for her," James said.
"It's a step-up (in class) over there but she's still on the way up fitness wise." James said providing Silent Achiever pulled up OK her next three races would be in Sydney at fortnightly intervals in the Ranvet Stakes, BMW Stakes and Sydney Cup.
"And if she can shake them in the Sydney Cup I would think it would be yes to Melbourne in the spring again. I don't think a lot of people realise how world class the racing is then."
James had the bad luck to see Silent Achiever succumb to cellulitis last spring, just days before the Melbourne Cup.
But he was buoyed by Silent Achiever's lead-up races which saw her come from awkward positions in the running to finish close up in some strong fields.
"I thought of putting blinkers on her all through that campaign but it was a tricky time to do it. I think blinkers can make a difference this time."
James tried the headgear on Silent Achiever in her first start this campaign in an attempt to get her to race handier in the field and she responded with a narrow win over 1500 metres, far short of her best.
Yesterday he repeated the trick, telling Colgan all the while not to upset her by riding her too hard if she wasn't happy to be handy. And while Historian set up a slow pace, Colgan said that's exactly what happened. "Roger would have been a bit confused today because I was a little bit quiet. I would have liked to have been one place closer but I would have had to ride her too hard and I wanted her to go to sleep. She over-raced a fair bit but when I let her go, she was just so fast."
Silent Achiever's last 600 metres was so slick, her 34.3 eclipsed that of sprinter Bounding earlier in the day.