J-Mac bags five and he’s hungry for four more
CHAMPION jockey James McDonald showed once again why he's one of the country's best by riding five winners at Warwick Farm on Wednesday and his Saturday rides could deliver him four Group 1 victories.
He may not have a ride in The Everest but that disappointment was erased when he knew what he was riding at Caulfield. He's got a full book of rides, but more importantly he's on some top liners in the feature races.
Star Sydney horses Smart Melody (Thousand Guineas), Hartnell (Toorak Handicap), D'Argento (Caulfield Stakes) and The Autumn Sun (Caulfield Guineas) are all real threats in their respective Group 1 events.
McDonald is very familiar with Hartnell and D'Argento, but Saturday will be the first time he's ridden Smart Melody and The Autumn Sun.
Smart Melody is the favourite for the Thousand Guineas (1600m) and she's undefeated in five starts but has her first test at a mile for trainer Kris Lees.
"She looks beautifully suited in this race and if she's ever going to run a mile it will be in there," McDonald said.
"It looks a nice race for her to capture her first Group 1."
The Autumn Sun should be undefeated too after a luckless third in the Group 2 Stan Fox Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill two starts back.
He went on to sensationally win the Group 1 Golden Rose Stakes (1400m), by overcoming Zousain in the closing stages.
McDonald rode Zousain that day and said he hadn't been on a horse going faster on the line and still get beaten and the loss left him in shock.
He's understandably happy to get on Chris Waller's other star colt this time.
"He's just an exciting colt. He's a dual Group 1 winner and the only Group 1 winner in the race," McDonald said. "He's got a beautiful draw and it will give him the chance to run as well as everyone knows he can."
Hartnell, the horse McDonald had enjoyed a long partnership with in the past, edged him out in the Epsom Handicap a fortnight ago and he said his old mate "owes me one now".
"He's in top form after winning the Epsom in great style but he's got the big weight to carry again," McDonald said.
McDoanld's Wednesday form was sublime, riding the first four winners on the card including debutant Roheryn.
The Lonhro colt out of the Group 1 placed mare Mannington defeated Vedder by a length despite not being suited by the heavy track.
"This horse is special," McDonald said.
"He's one of those horses where if you ask him for a length he gives you two.
"He's a very good horse."
McDonald then booted home stablemate Colombina, Cliff and Velocita.
He rounded the day out by riding Roosevelt to victory in the last.
"I didn't expect to ride the first four but they were nice rides and so was the horse in the last," he said.