Cambridge trainer Roger James left Tauranga racecourse today with a spring in his step after a win and a pleasing exhibition gallop.
James produced the Cecconi filly Blackbird to record a most encouraging debut win in the Young Read Woudberg Chartered Accountants 1200 and immediately afterwards the stablemates Delago’s Secret and The Tidy Express did an exhibition gallop.
Danielle Johnson, who resumes from a suspension at Te Rapa on Saturday, made a special trip to Tauranga to continue her association with Delago’s Secret, on whom she finished fourth in the Gr. 3 Waikato Times Gold Cup then won the Gr. 3 Scot Thrust City Of Auckland Cup. Vinnie Colgan was aboard The Tidy Express, who has been freshened since finishing unplaced in the Waikato Times Gold Cup.
The Tidy Express held a half-length margin over Delago’s Secret at the finish of the gallop after being slightly in front throughout the work. She looked to be travelling the better when passing the winning post, but James was thrilled with both horses.
“Delago’s Secret is a lazy trackworker and the blinkers were off today so I was happy with his work,” said James. “I thought the mare (The Tidy Express) worked very well.
“They’ll both go to Ellerslie on Saturday week for the open 1500 metres which Silent Achiever won last year then, all going well, they’ll clash again in the Group One New Zealand Stakes (wfa 2000m) back at Ellerslie.
“After that they’ll go their separate ways. Delago’s Secret will go to Sydney for the Manion Cup and Chairmans Handicap and maybe the Sydney Cup. As for The Tidy Express, I’ll just see how she does in her next two runs.”
The Tidy Express won fresh-up over 1600 metres at Ellerslie on November 4 and it would be no surprise to see her repeat Silent Achiever’s 1500-metre win of last year for the James stable. Delago’s Secret is sure to find the 1500 short of his best, but he also did win fresh-up over 1600 metres last October, though it was in Rating 75 grade.
James has several promising up-and-comers in his stable and judging by today’s performance he can add Blackbird to the list.
Blackbird, ridden by Mark Hills, had just one lead-up trial, which she won at Cambridge on January 13, and today she impressed with her strong finishing effort to beat the experienced Saber, a dual placegetter, by a neck.
“She did a similar thing when she won her trial,” said James. “She came from well back and won nicely. She had only one jumpout in her first prep and one before the trial so she hasn’t been asked for much.
“She’s bred to go a lot further. She’s from a family that usually take a long time to mature so she’s got a good future.”
Blackbird is the last foal and sixth winner of the Twig Moss mare Skylarking, but more importantly she is a grand-daughter of the champion racemare Leilani, whose 14 wins included five Group Ones – the AJC Oaks, MacKinnon Stakes, Australian Cup, Toorak Handicap and Caulfield Cup. Leilani was also runner-up in the Melbourne Cup.
James’ attention now switches to Saturday’s Te Rapa meeting at which the promising filly Tavy will contest the Gr. 2 Cambridge Stud Sir Tristram Fillies Classic (2000m). Tavy will be ridden for the first time by Johnson and will be put to a staying test.
“I wonder whether she stays so I’ll know a lot more after Saturday,” said James. “She’s out of a sprinting family, being from a Tale Of The Cat mare from the good two-year-old Good Faith (Gr. 1 Ellerslie Sires’ Produce Stakes).
“But the way she raced early on suggested she would stay so she gets her chance to prove it this time.”
Tavy won the Listed Trevor Eagle Memorial 3YO three starts ago then finished third in the Gr. 2 Cambridge Stud Eight Carat Classic before her fourth of six behind Volkstok’n’barrell in the Listed NZB Insurance Karaka 3YO Mile.
“She had the blinkers on last time and she did everything wrong,” said James. “You’ve got to forget that run.”
- Cambridge JC