Trainers line up to secure James McDonald’s services

By: Mark Mazzaglia
March 21st, 2014

As Sydney trainers line up for the services of in-form jockey James McDonald, the top Kiwi rider continues to concentrate on the job at hand, riding It’s A Dundeel in the Group 1 $500,000 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill on Saturday.

James McDonald and It's A Dundeel, above, will combine again in the Ranvet Stakes.

James McDonald and It's A Dundeel, above, will combine again in the Ranvet Stakes. Photo by Race Horse Photos Australia.

Top Sydney trainers John O’Shea, Gai Waterhouse and the Hawkes Racing Team are all keen to secure the services for the talented young rider in the future as McDonald continues to impress since he set up base in Sydney twelve months ago.

O’Shea was the driving force behind McDonald moving from New Zealand and would like to continue his association after he takes up the reins as the head trainer for Darley in May.

McDonald also has had plenty of success with Waterhouse including a win on Sweet Idea in the Gold Coast $1m Magic Millions 3yo Guineas (1400m) at the Gold Coast in January.

And McDonald has ridden a winner for Hawkes at the last two meetings, Mecir in the Group 3 $125,000 Enviropacific Newmarket Handicap (1400m) at Newcastle on Wednesday and Leebaz in the $40,000 Pro-Rod BenchMark 85 Handicap (1600m) at Warwick Farm on Thursday.

But McDonald says that he will concentrate on the Autumn Carnival before making any major decisions about his riding future.

“I’m just focusing on the exciting autumn,’’ McDonald told The Daily Telegraph.

“I do know I won’t be going overseas this year after the autumn. I want to spend a fair chunk of my time in Brisbane during their carnival, unless there is a horse that takes me overseas.’

While McDonald has four rides for Team Hawkes at Rosehill tomorrow, his main focus will be on the Murray Baker trained multiple Group 1 winner It’s A Dundeel.

McDonald has been aboard It’s A Dundeel for all of his nine wins and has the job of knocking off the current weight for age champ Fiorente in the Ranvet Stakes.

It’s A Dundeel was sent out the short priced favourite at his first start this Autumn and was run down by the Chris Waller trained Boban in the Group 1 $500,000 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) at Warwick Farm two weeks ago.

The High Chaparral stallion will strip much fitter on Saturday as he takes on the Waterhouse trained Fiorente as well as Waller’s trio of Foreteller, Hawkspur and Moriarty.

Fiorente has returned to the race track in top order with wins from both his starts in the Group 2 $220,000 Carlton Draught Peter Young Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on February 22 and the Group 1 $1m Darley Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on March 8.

McDonald also has the task of taking on Golden Slipper favourite Earthquake when he hops aboard Mossfun for Team Hawkes in the Group 2 $300,000 Parramatta Leagues Club Reisling Stakes (1200m).

Mossfun scored a four lengths win last start in the Group 2 $250,000 Silver Slipper Stakes (1100m) at Rosehill on March 1 and even though the wet track might have flattered the Mossman filly, McDonald is certain she would have won anyway.

“Had it been dry the other day, I feel she still would have won,’’ McDonald said.

Fiorente at $2.60 and It’s A Dundeel at $3.20 are fighting it for out favouritism for the Ranvet Stakes with while Foreteller is on the third line of betting at $10 just in front of Hawkspur and Waterhouse’s second runner Carlton House at $11.

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