Jockey James McDonald has been booked to ride First Seal in the 2015 Vinery Stud Stakes at Rosehill Gardens next Saturday after connections elected to replace regular rider Blake Shinn.
Shinn partnered First Seal when she stamped herself as a filly to watch with an upset win over Winx and Earthquake in the Group 2 Tea Rose Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick on September 20 and he was aboard the talented filly when she romped to a dominant victory in the Group 1 Flight Stakes (1600m) before Jason Collett took the ride on the daughter of Fastnet Rock for the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick on October 11 due to Shinn’s previous commitment to ride Sweynesse.
The leading hoop was put back on First Seal when she finished second in the Group 2 Light Fingers Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick on February 14 and he steered her to victory in the Group 2 Surround Stakes (1400m) at Warwick Farm on February 28.
First Seal went into the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1500m) as a dominant odds-on favourite, but she drew a wide barrier and was caught wide throughout the race, with Shinn unable to find cover for the filly.
The three-year-old hit the front at the 300 metre, but her tough run in transit clearly told in the final stages and she weakened late to finish second behind Plucky Belle.
The defeat means that First Seal is unlikely to earn a start in the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) and after a lengthy meeting between the respective owners of the valuable filly, which include the China Horse Club, Raffles Thoroughbred Racing and Think Big Stud, it was decided that McDonald would take the ride on the three-year-old when she contests the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 28 and in all likelihood the Group 1 Queen Of The Turf Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick on the second weekend of The Championships.
Shinn was not without a ride in the Vinery Stud Stakes for long and he will partner Fenway in the Group 1 event next weekend.
Fenway will be making her Group 1 debut in the Vinery Stud Stakes and is taking fair form into the race after she finished fourth behind Noble Protector in the Group 3 Schweppervescence Trophy (1600m) at Flemington on March 14.
First Seal is currently available at 2015 Queen Of The Turf Stakes odds of $4 with Ladbrokes and is a clear favourite from Lucia Valentina ($6), Catkins ($7) and Cosmic Endeavour ($8).