Ascot trainer Simon Miller admits Achernar Star’s reputation took a hit during a cameo winter campaign.
The son of Gingerbread Man ran two poor races and was never sighted when unplaced.
Achernar Star finished ahead of only two runners in the Group 3 Roma Cup (1200m) at Ascot and didn’t fare any better when he ran a distant last in the Group 3 Belmont Sprint (1400m) a fortnight later.
Up until those two runs Achernar Star had performed with consistency and credibility.
As a juvenile he reeled off two second placings in the Group 2 Karrakatta Plate (1200m) and Listed Magic Millions Classic (1200m).
As a three-year-old he ran consecutive placings in the Listed Fairetha Stakes (1400m), Group 2 WA Guineas (1600m) before a top third in elite company in the Group 1 Kingston Town Classic (1800m).
So when Miller launched Achernar Star’s Ascot carnival campaign at Bunbury two weeks ago there was a sense of trepidation.
On his work Miller was confident Achernar Star would return to the winner’s enclosure, but until he was put under race day pressure he reserved his judgement.
He didn’t have to worry, despite lumping big weight and racing first-up over 1400m, Achernar Star confirmed he was back to his consistent self.
Ridden by Shaun McGruddy, he sat second and held out the fast finishing Action by a short-neck, boosting his record to four wins and five placings from 12 starts.
Miller breathed a sigh of relief.
“I knew behind the scenes he was humming, but I didn’t want to say anything or get too far ahead of myself because of what happened during the winter as he was poor, you couldn’t hide from that fact,” Miller said.
“I was a bit nervous, but I was confident he would hold his own, so it really didn’t come as a surprise.”
Miller believes Achernar Star, despite earning just over $600,000 in prize money and Westspeed bonuses, doesn’t enjoy a big profile.
“I think he goes under the radar a little bit,” Miller said.
“Probably because of his pattern and the way he races.
“He lacks flair, but is so professional and very workmanlike.”
Miller is confident Achernar Star can back up his impressive Bunbury victory when he tackles the $125,000 Listed Northam Cup (1600m) on Sunday.
On the back of the Bunbury performance Achernar Star has been installed the TABtouch favourite ($3) ahead of Missile Launch ($4.20).
“He has bounced out of the run really well,” Miller said.
“First-up over 1400m with 59.5kg has not knocked him around.
“I’m rapt with how he is going and couldn’t be happier.
“It will be no easy feat with a couple of good horses in it.
“Royal Star and Prize Catch ran good races behind him at Bunbury.
“But I think he will give a great sight again.”
Achernar Star carries the 58kg top weight and has drawn barrier seven. Shaun McGruddy retains the ride.