Rising jockey James McDonald is counting down the days until he gets a chance to reunite with equine superstar It’s A Dundeel in the Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on Saturday.
McDonald partnered It’s A Dundeel to win the three-year-old Triple Crown during the 2013 Autumn Racing Carnival but missed out on riding the four-time Group 1 winner when he stepped up to weight-for-age level in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) due to a suspension for careless riding.
It’s A Dundeel will begin a Cox Plate (2040m) campaign in the star-studded Memsie Stakes on Saturday and McDonald told Racing Ahead that he has been happy with the son of High Chaparral since he returned from the spelling paddock and believes he has come back a much more mature horse.
“He is going really well, I can see a massive difference,” McDonald said on RSN.
“He was a very fine three-year-old and he probably only coped with four runs in a prep.
“I think that he has come back a lot more mature and he has grown a little bit.
“Let’s hope that he can make that progressive step from three-year-old to four-year-old.
“I don’t think weight-for-age will worry him this time around and he has a good campaign ahead of him.”
McDonald is based in Sydney but is set to spend the majority of his time in Melbourne this spring partnering It’s A Dundeel and classy Kiwi colt Cauthen.
The young jockey will return to Melbourne to partner It’s A Dundeel in the Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on September 21, the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m) on October 12 and the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley on October 26, as well as ride Cauthen in the Caulfield Guineas (1600m) on October 12, but McDonald said he has no plans to relocate to Melbourne.
“At the moment I will float back and forwards,” he said.
“It’s a bit unfortunate that It’s A Dundeel and Cauthen don’t race on the same day at any stage, so there are a few trips down to Melbourne but I am happy to make it on those two horses.”