Kevin Hickman has forfeited one dream to pursue another with his classy galloper Silent Achiever.
Immediately after the O’Reilly mare’s photo-finish third in the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley on Saturday, the only race her owner-breeder could think of was the Melbourne Cup.
That thinking wasn’t shared by trainer Roger James, however, and subsequent discussions between owner and trainer brought an end to any Cup dreams, only to be replaced by one of an even more ambitious nature.
The race now on Silent Achiever’s agenda is none other than the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, rated by many as the world’s greatest thoroughbred contest and run annually at weight-for-age over 2400 metres in Paris on the first Sunday in October.
“Right from the time she won the (New Zealand) Derby as an autumn three-year-old 2400 metres has been her favourite trip,” James said as he shared the grand plan today with www.theinformant.co.nz. “Two years ago she would have won the BMW in another stride and when she won it last autumn she beat Dundeel and Fiorente easily.
“The start before that she beat the Queen’s horse Carlton House at weight-for-age and after seeing her performance on Saturday I’m convinced she‘s up to the best international weight-for-age company.
“That was a huge effort and even though she didn’t win I rate it probably the best of her career. I dare say that if the Arc was being run next month and Adelaide lined up, he’d damn near be favourite.”
James had no desire to see Silent Achiever lumping 56.5 kilograms in next week’s Melbourne Cup, believing that the combination of distance and weight on what promises to be an unforgiving Flemington surface was something his pride and joy should be subjected to.
When Hickman confirmed to this writer yesterday that the Melbourne Cup was off the programe he admitted that his mare’s welfare was paramount.
“I fully understand Kevin’s desire to have a runner in the Cup and it took a lot of talking to convince him otherwise, but in saying that I have absolute respect for his opinion and input,” James said.
“The Arc is still a long way off and the mare has to get through the Sydney autumn carnival, but if she performs up to her best and comes out of it in the right shape we’ll be making plans to head to Europe.”
Females have a very good record in the Arc de Triomphe, underlined by the wins of Treve (twice), Solemia and Danedream over the past four years.
Backing James’s desire to miss the Melbourne Cup, he feels it important to bring an end to Silent Achiever’s campaign while she was at the top of her game.
“That was a hard run on Saturday but she’s going home in super order. I’m actually amazed at how well she’s recovered from it,” he said. “That will obviously stand to her while she’s spelling in preparation for her next campaign.”
Meanwhile James will remain in Melbourne in the hope of another stakes-winning member of his team, Zonza, making the field for the Gr. 1 Myer Classic on the opening day of Melbourne Cup week.
The Zabeel mare, a close last-start fourth in the Livamol Classic at Hastings, is still at James’s Cambridge stables and will be flown to Melbourne on Wednesday once a place in the field and a good draw have been confirmed for Saturday’s race.
Last spring Zonza won the Gr. 3 Ladies’ Day Vase at Caulfield before finishing eighth in the Myer. She has recently been tested in foal to Pins.
- The Informant