Jockey James McDonald believes that Rising Romance has the right 2014 Caulfield Cup form and feels that the talented mare deserves to be rated alongside Lucia Valentina as one of the leading chances in the Group 1 event this weekend.
Rising Romance and Lucia Valentina have met on four occasions during their racing careers to date and both horses currently sit at two wins apiece.
The pair first clashed when Rising Romance took out the Group 2 New Zealand Bloodstock Royal Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day, but Lucia Valentina was able to turn-the-tables on her rival in the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill Gardens on April 5.
Rising Romance upset Lucia Valentina to win the Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m) at Royal Randwick on April 19 and the pair both started their 2014 Spring Racing Carnival campaigns in the Group 2 Tramway Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick on September 6, which Lucia Valentina won in impressive fashion.
McDonald told Racing Ahead that the Caulfield Cup lead-up form of Rising Romance and Lucia Valentina is very similar and he feels that his mount is currently underrated in betting markets for the Group 1 event at Caulfield this weekend.
“She is super filly,” McDonald said.
“You go into this race lining up the two mares and Lucia Valentina is the $3 favourite, but there is nothing between them in their whole career.
“When they have met each other there has been a length or half a length between them all the way through.
“They have some great match races before in New Zealand and over here they have clashed a few times as well.
“If you like Lucia Valentina you have to like Rising Romance and that is how we are lining up the form.
“Her run was full of merit last start.”
McDonald normally rides at about 56 kilograms, but he has been riding at about 54 and a half kilograms during the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival and was happy to take the ride at Rising Romance in the Caulfield Cup at 53 kilograms.
The young hoop said that he is close to the weight required to ride Rising Romance this weekend and said he is delighted with the way his body has handled the drop in weight, especially after he booted home three winners at Warwick Farm yesterday.
“I am really happy with the way that I felt yesterday on the horses and I am not too far off the mark, probably a kilo and a half to go now,” McDonald said.
“I couldn’t be happy with the situation I am in.
“I did 52 and a half last year, which was a big effort for myself and 53 this year, but if you can’t do those weights at this time of year you are never going to.
“You have a lot to play for and it is very exciting.
“I haven’t changed too much things and I have found as I have gotten older that I know my body a lot more and what I can and can’t do.
“I have upped the exercise a little bit and done a few personal trainings a couple of times a day.
“My diet I am fairly strict with anyway and I have cut out the basics and gone from there.”
McDonald’s three victories at Warwick Farm yesterday took him to 999 career winners and he may have the chance 1000 wins in the Caulfield Cup.