Leading New Zealand jockey James McDonald completed the New Zealand Derby/Auckland Cup double at Ellerslie yesterday on Melbourne Cup bound Shez Sinsational.
McDonald had to overcome a pre race scare when he had to return to the scale’s room to reweigh after his saddle broke on the way to the barriers before the Group 1 NZ$500,000 Stella Artois Auckland Cup (3200m).
The young jockey had taken out the Group 1 NZ$750,000 Telecom New Zealand Derby (2400m) at Ellerslie on Saturday on Silent Achiever for Roger James but didn’t let the delay unsettle his nerves.
“It had to be in this of all races. I’ve had that saddle my whole career. It was unbelievable,” he said.
“But it didn’t really worry me. I still had a job to do in front of me. It just interrupted things a little bit.
“You’ve got to deal with it and not panic. They weren’t going to race without us.”
McDonald was more concerned coming to the 600m when Shez Sinsational wasn’t travelling all that well and he had to dig her up.
“I wasn’t happy with how she was going, but I knew once she gets clear air she really lets down,” McDonald said.
The Auckland Cup winner is automatically qualified for the Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200) at Flemington in November and winning trainer Allan Sharrock was happy to achieve that goal.
The Singapore Cup is also on the radar for Shez Sinsational with the Melbourne Cup her main mission.
“That’s part of our thinking but I’ve even thrown in a nom in for the Singapore Cup,” Sharrock said.
“We’ll take her home first and have a look at her.”
McDonald is a clear leader in the New Zealand jockey’s premiership and added four winners to his tally at yesterday’s meeting.