James McDonald has been booked to ride undefeated Singapore-based galloper Spalato in the 2014 Jockey Club Sprint at Sha Tin on Saturday after regular hoop Manoel Nunes was forced to withdraw due to injury.
Spalato made his racing debut with an incredible ten lengths victory over 1000 metres at Kranji in May of last year and he took out the Singapore Airlines Frankfurt Stakes (1400m) at the same venue a fortnight later before he scored maiden win at the highest level of racing in the Group 1 Patron’s Bowl on June 22.
Connections opted to step Spalato up to 2000 metres for the Group 1 Singapore Derby (2000m) and the decision paid dividends when the Elusive City gelding exploded when asked for an extra effort to record a dominant four and a half lengths victory.
Spalato was sent for a brief stint in the spelling paddock before he returned to racing with a comfortable win in the Panasonic Display Solutions Stakes (1200m) at Kranji on October 5 and he was partnered by McDonald when he led from start to finish in the Luzerne Cup (1200m) on October 26.
Nunes was sent to jump back on board Spalato for his maiden race start outside of Singapore in the Jockey Club Sprint, but he was forced to withdraw and breeder Trish Dunell told The Informant this afternoon that McDonald had been asked to take the ride.
“All I know is James certainly didn’t say no,” Nunes said.
Spalato was invited to be the international representative in the Jockey Club Sprint and trainer John O’Hara is using the race as a warm-up for the Group 1 Hong Kong International Sprint (1200m) that will be held at Sha Tin on December 14.
The undefeated five-year-old was given his first serious piece of work at Sha Tin this morning and O’Hara told The South China Morning Post that he was happy with the effort of his star galloper and believes that he has recovered from the tough journey to Hong Kong.
“That’s all we wanted from him, he had done all of his work at home in Singapore,” O’Hara said.
“That will do him and was his final gallop before the race.
“He handled it all pretty well, he was just a bit lost at first on his own in isolation with no friends.
“He lost a little bit of weight, but nothing dramatic.
“To be honest he has been fantastic for a horse that has been on his own.”
McDonald will head to Japan after riding Spalato at Hong Kong on Sunday after he was named to represent Oceania in the World Super Jockey’s Series.