Cambridge trainer Roger James has reservations ahead of star mare Silent Achiever's first run in Queensland this weekend, but he still expects her to fight out the finish.
The four-time Group One-winning O'Reilly mare contests Saturday's Gr.2 Sky Thoroughbred Central A D Hollindale Stakes (1800m) at the Gold Coast as a precursor to the Gr.1 Doomben Cup (2000m) on May 9.
While the Doomben Cup could yet become Silent Achiever's swansong, should she not prove she's in form worthy of a Prix de l'Arc de Triomph campaign later in the year, James' immediate focus is on her pending engagement.
"She went home after racing in Sydney and had a week in the paddock before coming over to Brisbane," James said.
"It's a new environment and she hasn't settled in quite as quickly as she usually does. She's always been a hard one to freshen from a stayer's preparation and that's why it's been a month between runs with a week in the paddock.
"Whether she's sharp enough for 1800m this weekend, I have my doubts but this should have her spot on for the Doomben Cup."
A winner of 10 of her 34 starts, Silent Achiever ran Group One fourth placings in the Chipping Norton Stakes and Ranvet Stakes in Sydney leading into her defence of her The BMW crown, though she was below her best at Rosehill that day, running sixth.
James, who won't decide on a northern hemisphere campaign with Silent Achiever until he has assessed her Doomben Cup performance, has opted to retain Kerrin McEvoy to ride.
"He rode her well in Sydney. She's drawn 13, but at the Gold Coast that isn't the worst thing. If she'd drawn in and been slowly away she could be shuffled back on the inside. From wide out she might be able to scout for a handy position. There are a few things against her but I expect her to finish in the first four," James said.
Closer to home, James has a formidable team in action at Te Rapa, with Shees Flawless and Tavy providing him with a strong hand in the Gr.3 Inglis Sales Cambridge Breeders' Stakes (1200m).
"Shees Flawless has won her last two impressively and she's probably the pick of my two over 1200m, though Tavy trialled up very well and if the track became more testing, she would come right into favour," said James, who rated Miss Foxwood as the best of his Te Rapa chances.
- N Z Racing Desk