James McDonald had already proved himself as the best jockey in New Zealand but the Brisbane Winter Carnival was his chance to show off his skills in front of Australia’s heavyweights for the first time.
He certainly didn’t disappoint and there are a string of locally based stables looking to secure his services going into the future.
McDonald’s first Group 1 winner came on Scarlett Lady when the pair destroyed the field obliterated the field two weeks ago at Eagle Farm.
That was on the back of their win in The Roses at Doomben where McDonald positioned Scarlett Lady perfectly throughout.
In the meantime he’s also surpassed Lisa Cropp’s mark of 197 winners in a season back at home and there’s no telling how far past 200 he’ll go with plenty of time still left in the season.
As a result it’s certainly not surprising that he’s become hot property going into spring and then into 2012 but he won’t be rushed into any hasty decision.
At the moment it’s understood that he’s tendering propositions from leading stables in Melbourne and Sydney as well as across in Singapore.
McDonald has previously stated that there would be no permanent move away from New Zealand until the start of next year, however a deal could be struck in a matter of weeks.
His manager Gary Cossey has been helping him filter through the proposals.
“He’s been fielding offers left right and centre,” Cossey said.
“Leading stables in Australia and Singapore want him and he has a big decision to make in the next few weeks.
“He’s had that much advice from all sorts of different people, but it’s an important decision, and one he won’t make lightly. We’ll weigh up what he wants to do. He’ll know what’s right for him. He’s very mature in his thinking.”
There’s only one downside to the growing reputation of McDonald and that’s his growing size.
He would now struggle to make any weight under 54kg, a slightly detracting detail for trainers and one which has forced him to become even more disciplined.
“He’s got a lot taller and has had to stick to a strict, regimented diet,” Cossey said.
“I hope he doesn’t grow too much more but he knows what to do. He has to because, while there’s not an ounce of fat on him, he’s quite stock as well.”
In the near future McDonald is focussing on pushing his New Zealand winners tally well past 200.
He surpassed Cropp’s record of 197 winners with his 890th ride for the season, Cropp took 1261 to get to her mark.
He’s not the only jockey who could be coming to Australia either with former Hong Kong rider Marco Chui said to be considering a move.
Chui was hailed as the next big thing after leading the Hong Kong apprentice premiership in the 2007/2008 season.
Shortly after though has was suspended for a year after testing positive to the use on the banned substance ketamine.
Chui had only been back in the saddle for two months before that ban after completing another six month layoff for testing positive to another outlawed substance.
He is hoping Perth will be his saviour and will fly into the West-Australian capital this weekend.
“I am still full of passion for riding, and I would love to ride in races so I hope I can start my new career in Australia and get a second chance,” Chui said.
“I have to take some drug lessons before I can apply for a license. In that time I may have to do something else but I hope I can get my license in Perth and then after a while I might have an option to ride somewhere else.”