Leading Sydney jockey James McDonald has been booked to ride Japanese star Real Impact when he contests the 2015 George Ryder Stakes and Doncaster Mile during the Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival.
Connections confirmed earlier in the month that Real Impact would join fellow Japanese gallopers World Ace, Tosen Stardem and To The World in Australia for The Championships; with both the Group 1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 21 and the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) at Royal Randwick on April 4 on the agenda for the Group 1 winner.
Nick Hall was booked to ride To The World and World Ace in races like the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) and Doncaster Mile and McDonald’s Racing Manager David Raphael confirmed that the connections of Real Impact had also decided to go with a local jockey.
“James is very excited to be riding Real Impact,” McDonald said.
“He is one of the best horses going around in Japan and you only have to go through his form to realise this is one serious racehorse.”
Real Impact has been a consistent performer at Group level in Japan since he finished second in both the Group 2 Keio Hai Nisai (1407m) and Group 1 Hai Futurity Stakes (1608m) at the end of 2010, but has never raced outside of his home country.
The Deep Impact entire recorded his maiden win at the highest level of racing when he took out the Group 1 Yasuda Kinen (1608m) at Tokyo in June of 2011, but he was unable to replicate that form at the end of 2011 and he could finish no better than sixth in the Yasuda Kinen a year later.
Real Impact returned to a semblance of his best form when he finished just outside the placings in the 2012 edition of the Group 2 Mainichi Okan (1810m) and the Group 1 Mile Championship (1609m), but he failed to fire in three race starts in the autumn of 2013.
He finally returned to winning form when he scored a narrow victory over Garbo in the 2013 edition of the Group 2 Hanshin Cup (1407m) and after four straight unplaced efforts he took out the race for the second year in a row in December of last year.
McDonald is chasing his first win in the Doncaster Mile after missing the placings with both Dear Demi (last in 2014) and Happy Zero (14th in 2012).