McDonald riding crest of the wave in Sydney

James McDonald following win on Bascule to claim Sydney Jockeys Premiership (427x640)The boy from Cambridge is now the king of Sydney racing.

James McDonald (23) celebrated a memorable day in Sydney at Rosehill last Saturday when he won five of the nine races programmed, including the day’s feature, the A$1.5 million BMW, on Hartnell. He left Kerrin McEvoy and Blake Shinn to take the other four races and actually he gave Shinn a run for the money when second to him in the Gr. 1 Vinery Stud Stakes on Flint Seal.

It was the first time McDonald has ridden five winners at a Sydney metropolitan meeting and he was not only toast of the punters, but also his employer, Godolphin. Four of his winners were on Godolphin horses, including Hartnell.

McDonald won the second event on Hartnell’s stablemate Medcaut, then took the fourth race, the Gr. 2 Emancipation Stakes on the Chris Waller-trained Catkins, and the Gr. 3 Star Kingdom Stakes on Godolphin’s Stradbroke Handicap prospect Generalife.

Two races later he stole the show on Hartnell before taking the Gr. 2 Tulloch Stakes on the stablemate Hauraki, who is now set to clash with Volstok’n’barrell in the Australian Derby.

McDonald signed on as a retained jockey for Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Godolphin operation last month and celebrated his first Group One win in the Godolphin blue colours when Contributer won the Chipping Norton Stakes.

Over the last two days of the Rosehill carnival he has picked up three Group Ones, preceding the BMW with the Gr. 1 Ranvet Stakes on Hartnell’s stablemate Contributer and the Gr. 1 George Ryder Stakes on the Japanese galloper Real Impact.

After riding for Japan aboard Real Impact, he was on the other side of the fence with Hartnell beating To The World. He had also beaten the Japanese raider Tosen Stardom on Contributer in last weekend’s Ranvet Stakes.

McDonald ended last season’s as Sydney’s leading jockey and he hasn’t looked back. “It’s pretty amazing,” said McDonald of the five-win haul. “I’m really happy and it’s good to get all of them for big stables.”

McDonald was seen at his best on Hartnell, settling the high-class galloper inside To The World in the early stages then angling him off the fence to leave the Japanese visitor trailing him.

Over the final stages, as Contributer had done the previous weekend, Hartnell proved superior. He drew clear to move into favouritism for the A$1.6 million Sydney Cup.

“We’ve got him (Hartnell) in the Sydney Cup with 52kgs, and we’ve got the favourite for the Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Contributer) at home, so we’ll just poke along and have a think about it,’’ said O’Shea. “It is a good position to be in.”