McDonald hoping for better memories on Victoria Derby Day

Outstanding young Kiwi rider James McDonald is hoping for better memories from this year’s Victoria Derby day after missing out on the major prize at Flemington last year.

McDonald was dumped from the Trent Busuttin trained Sangster after running second to Sabrage in the Group 3 $150,000 Starlight Children’s Foundation Norman Robinson Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield on October 15 and had to watch from the jockey’s room as Hugh Bowman steered the three year old to victory in the Group 1 $1.5m AAMI Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington a fortnight later.

“That was a bit of a sour day,” McDonald said.

“My ride on him at  Caulfield wasn’t my best but I’ve come a long way since then,” McDonald said.

McDonald will be on the short priced favourite It’s A Dundeel on Saturday and after being beaten for the first time at Moonee Valley last week in the Group 2 $220,000 Mitchelton Wines Vase (2040m) at Moonee Valley last week has the job ahead of returning the colt to the winner’s list.

With fourteen Group 1s under his belt, McDonald considers himself a more mature jockey and is looking forward to the responsibility of riding the Derby favourite.

“I’ve ridden around the world in places like Hong Kong and obviously a lot more in Australia and I’m a much more mature jockey now than I was a year ago in Melbourne,” said McDonald who set up base in Australia earlier in the year.

The Mark Kavanagh trained Super Cool lowered It’s A Dundeel’s colours for the time at Moonee Valley and McDonald is looking forward to getting to the bigger Flemington track for a rematch with the Fastnet Rock gelding.

“Initially I was a little bit disappointed but after going back and watching the replay, looking at the sectionals I was a lot more content with his performance at Moonee Valley,” McDonald said.

“I haven’t lost faith in him. He’s still the one to beat in the Derby, that’s for sure.

“He’s definitely going to run the trip. It’s my job to give him the right run in the race.”

After settling back in the small seven horse field, McDonald found Super Cool too nippy around the tricky Moonee Valley circuit and was unable to reel in the winner in the short run home.

“I’m sure he’s going to improve on the bigger track,” McDonald said.

McDonald has been aboard It’s A Dundeel in all his six starts which includes a last to first win in the Group 1 $400,000 Chandon Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on October 6.

It’s A Dundeel is the $2.80 Victoria Derby favourite with Super Cool sharing the second line of betting with Sydney colt Honorius and Norman Robinson winner Hvasstan at $7.

About The Author

Mark Mazzaglia

Mark is a passionate journalist with a life-time involvement in the racing industry. He spent many years as an analyst and form expert at the Courier Mail and also has hands-on experience working with some of Queensland’s top trainers.