Brisbane racegoers will get a chance to see talented New Zealand jockey James McDonald ride in Queensland again after the young rider showed off his outstanding ability on the world stage in Hong Kong on the weekend.
Prominent Hong Kong trainer John Moore was full of praise for McDonald after steering Xtension to back to back wins in the Group 1 HK$12m The BMW Champions Mile (1600m) at Sha Tin on Sunday.
And the young rider who won last year’s Group 1 $400,000 Treasury Casino Queensland Oaks (2400m) at Eagle Farm on Scarlett Lady will be aboard Temple Of Boom in the Group 1 $400,000 Smirnoff BTC Cup (1200m) at Doomben on Saturday.
Moore couldn’t say enough about McDonald who rode a superb race on Xtension who returned from Dubai after finishing fifth to Cityscape in the Group 1 US$5m Dubai Duty Free (1800m) at Meydan.
Moore was uncertain how Xtension would cope with the return trip to Dubai but was ecstatic with the result after several other Hong Kong gallopers have failed to perform at their best after a trip to the middle east.
“I have to say that it all came down to great work by everyone in the stable to get Xtension back well enough to do what he’s done today – there were doubts about him but everyone worked hard to get the horse eating again and then James has given him the best ride ever seen,” said Moore, who has been a great fan of McDonald.
“He got him in behind my other horse Able One and just a perfect run. He had to extricate him from a pocket at the 200m but he did that and I am thrilled to win the race again with this horse.”
“He showed true courage because he wasn’t at his best weight today – although I will say he never lost the sheen in his coat – and really we were just hoping.”
McDonald made a rushed trip to Sydney’s Mascot Airport on Saturday night after riding his first winner for Gai Waterhouse, Reuben Percival, in the Richmond Club Provincial Stayers Championship Final (2250m) at Hawkesbury to catch an overnight flight to Hong Kong.
The trip didn’t seem to affect McDonald who said it was like a dream come true to ride a Group 1 winner in Hong Kong.
“As a kid I always dreamed to be riding in a country like this, with the calibre of jockeys and horses, it’s a real privilege,” McDonald said.
“Hopefully one day I’ll come back and be a Dougie Whyte, but there’s a lot of water to flow under the bridge before them.”
Moore is keen for the young rider partner Xtension in the Group 1 S$3m Singapore International Airlines Cup (2,000m) at Kranji in two weeks if he can convince his owners to run.
“If the owner will let him go, Xtension will be a force to be reckoned with in Singapore – he wasn’t 100 per cent today and he won and if we can make him fitter for Singapore, he has to be the horse to beat,” Moore said.
“And then we’d have to make a decision about whether he goes to Royal Ascot for the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes.”
McDonald has a had a stellar couple of months and as well as dominating the Auckland Cup carnival with Group 1 wins on Scarlett Lady, Shez Sinsational and Silent Achiever, he also rode his first Group 1 winner in Australia on Temple Of Boom for Toowoomba trainer Tony Gollan in the $350,000 The James Boag Galaxy (1100m) at Randwick on April 21.