With well over 1000 race wins on the books, including 28 Group Ones, Cambridge-based thoroughbred trainer Roger James continues to aim for the top.
Having joined the elite ‘1000 club’ in March 2014 after training over 1000 winners in New Zealand, Roger has also trained over 45 winners in Australia. His impressive collection of Group One wins have been acquired from throughout Australasia, and his current star pupil, Silent Achiever, has won four Group One races alone and is the highest-rated mare racing in Australasia.
With a passion for horses having always run deep, Roger began a career in banking before his love of the sport, and particularly showjumping, lured him into the racing industry.
Starting out breaking in and pre-training, Roger joined legendary trainer Jim Gibbs working as his foreman. Two years later after learning his craft from one of the best in the business, Roger stepped into a prosperous five-year partnership with Jim, and together they successfully saddled up six Group One winners, among them Tidal Light.
After going out on his own for a number of years, Roger then welcomed a succession of junior partners, including Ross Taylor, Lance Noble, Leanne Bertling and more recently Paul Mirabelli.
Roger was named Champion New Zealand Trainer of the Year during the 1996-97 season, an award he rates high on his list of accomplishments.
Having proven his craft over the years, Roger believes you should never stop learning and refining.
“It’s a waste of a day if you don’t learn something.”
Part of that evolution has included making the most of developments available in technology and research, particularly when it comes to nutrition.
“With the demand on trainers these days – lots of races, trials, number of animals – there isn’t enough time left to do things like you used to, like mixing feed for example.
“It’s important to make use of modern technology and science, as well as all the research that has been done today, so you know you’re feeding your horses the best feed possible. But it’s also important to keep it simple.”
As part of his feeding programme, Roger uses FiberMix from Fiber Fresh feeds, a high nutritional feed comprising of lucerne and the whole oat crop.
“I have been using Fiber Fresh for around six or seven years now, after I became frustrated with the inconsistencies of chaff. What appealed most was the consistency of the product, the no dust factor, the convenience and the palatability – that’s why I’ve continued to use it. I’m very happy with Fiber Fresh.
“The different varieties you can get are also good – I have used different products depending on the horses’ needs.
“With all the research that’s been done by Fiber Fresh, I can be confident that I’m feeding what’s required for an equine athlete to perform.”
And perform his athletes do – with Silent Achiever lining up to compete in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in France later this year, depending on her performance in her Sydney campaign. The last horse to have competed in the world’s greatest race was Balmerino in 1977, who placed second.
“Silent Achiever is the best horse I’ve ever trained,” says Roger.
“That kind of horse only comes along once in a lifetime.”