Team Hawkes have now won three of their last five after Elle Lou scored an impressive victory in the $100,000 Magic Millions Maiden Plate (1200m) on Saturday – kicking off the 2015 Magic Millions Race Day.
Race favourite Homehill dashed to the lead while Elle Lou was a long way back out the gates. However with less than 300 metres to go the three-year-old filly burst home under hoop James McDonald, dashing to the lead at the 100 metre mark, winning easily ahead of Eljetem and Sagatona.
James McDonald delivered a beautiful ride from the second widest barrier, waiting for the field to split up before taking his chance and surging home to victory. After suffering a knock at the start, the rest of the field flew in front but the hoop noted Elle Lou did well to catch up.
“She came from back last and to her credit dug deep and picked them up well,” he said.
“She was super relaxed [behind the barriers], first time with blinkers obviously helped.
“The track felt pretty good, solid grass but a little patchy round the sides.”
Co-trainer Michael Hawkes meanwhile gave plenty of praise to McDonald to earn his team the first win of the day and noted it was the right time for Elle Lou to win her maiden.
“She’s done everything right at home in her runs and we kept her fresh for this race, just tipped her over,” he said.
“Honestly when you draw these barriers as a first emergency, we took the option to bring her and hoped for a bit of luck on the day but I’ve got to give James credit.
“She copped a bump at the start and he just rode her quiet and patient, which was the tell-tale because she wasn’t going to win going round them so we just let him run his own race and get his own breaks and he sure got those.
“She came from well back and there was a massive speed battle up front but she got home really well.”
James McDonald will again ride for Team Hawkes today aboard Surf Seeker in the $2 million Magic Millions 2YO Classic (1200m) at 3:25pm (local time).