Sydney based kiwi jockey James McDonald to set to forge a closer relationship with trainer Gai Waterhouse after being booked to ride Nayeli in the Group 1 $1m Sportingbet Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on February 22.
McDonald will be the third jockey to ride Nayeli who is undefeated from her two race starts with Tommy Berry steering the More Than Ready filly to a debut win over 1000m on the Kensington track at Randwick on January 8 then Vlad Duric took over the reins to win the Group 3 $135,000 Mal Seccull Chairman’s Stakes (1100m) at Caulfield on February 1.
The talented young rider has been impressed with the filly’s two winning performances and can’t wait to get on her back.
“She looked quite impressive watching her on the television and by all reports she is doing really well in Melbourne so I was happy to take the ride,” McDonald told Racing Network.
Waterhouse and McDonald have combined recently with smart three year old Sweet Idea to win the $100,000 Wyong Magic Millions 3yo Stakes (1200m) at Wyong on December 19 and the Gold Coast $1m Magic Millions 3yo Guineas (1400m) at the Gold Coast on January 11.
After the Gold Coast win Waterhouse said that she was happy to give McDonald more opportunities for the stable and with stable rider Tommy Berry taking up another three month Hong Kong Jockey Club contract later in the year, McDonald might find himself in heavy demand from the leading Randwick trainer.
Waterhouse has noted how McDonald has adjusted to Sydney racing since setting up base there twelve months ago and she is willing to use his services more regularly.
“It took a bit of time for James to adjust to how much bigger and busier Australia is, especially Sydney, but he’s starting to hit his hobbles,” Waterhouse said after the Gold Coast win on Sweet Idea.
“Tom is my stable rider, Adam Hyeronimus is right there among my top riders, he’s improved out of sight, and James is very much the same.”
McDonald is happy to have the Blue Diamond Stakes rides on Nayeli and will be working hard to keep his association with Waterhouse continuing.
“My strike rate with Gai is impressive, she’s got good horses, a lot of horses, and she’s a fantastic trainer,” McDonald said.
“She’s got Tommy Berry as her No.1, but if I can pick up a ride here and there, and I put in the hard yards, Gai will support you.”
Nayeli is on the third line of betting in the Ladbrokes.com.au Blue Diamond Stakes market order at $9 behind Blue Diamond Prelude winners Earthquake ($2.60 favourite) and Rubick ($3).
The Peter Snowden trained Earthquake won the fillies division of the Group 3 $150,000 Sportingbet Blue Diamond Prelude (1100m) at Caulfield last Saturday then Gerald Ryan’s Rubick came out thirty minutes later to run the same time in winning the colts and geldings division in 1.3.71 seconds.
The Mark Kavanagh trained colt Chivalry and Nostradamus from the Team Hawkes stable both caught the eye in finishing third and fourth behind Rubick and are prominent in the market order at $10 and $11 respectively.