He is one of the hottest properties in racing but Kiwi jockey James McDonald says he won’t be rushed into making a decision on where his future lies.
McDonald rode his first Group One winner in Australia last week when he piloted talented filly Scarlett Lady to victory in the Queensland Oaks, before breaking Lisa Cropp’s record for most winners in a New Zealand racing season.
McDonald was quick to hose down speculation over his riding future at the Brisbane winter carnival, but it is believed that top stables from Sydney, Melbourne and even Singapore are interested in his services.
McDonald has said that he will not make a permanent move until next year, however his manager Gary Cossey admitted that with all the offers coming in from overseas, McDonald may be forced into making a decision in the coming weeks.
“He’s been fielding offers left right and centre,” Cossey said.
“Leading stables in Australia and Singapore want him and he has a big decision to make in the next few weeks.
“He’s had that much advice from all sorts of different people, but it’s an important decision, and one he won’t make lightly. We’ll weigh up what he wants to do. He’ll know what’s right for him. He’s very mature in his thinking.”
One factor that may throw a spanner into the works is McDonald’s weight. He has gone through a growth spurt in recent times and now rarely rides at anything under 54kg.
“He’s got a lot taller and has had to stick to a strict, regimented diet,” Cossey said.
“I hope he doesn’t grow too much more but he knows what to do. He has to because, while there’s not an ounce of fat on him, he’s quite stock as well.”
McDonald’s new New Zealand record of 198 winners in a season eclipses Lisa Cropp’s mark of 197 wins. It took Cropp 1261 rides to establish the record whereas McDonald managed to set the new mark in just 890 rides.
Another jockey who may well be looking to make his mark in Australia is former Hong Kong jockey Marco Chui.
Chui, who was the leading Hong Kong apprentice in 2007/8, was refused a riding license in Hong Kong in January after serving a 12 month ban for ketamine use.
That 12 month suspension came just two months after Chui completed a six month suspension, also for testing positive to a banned substance.
Chui will head to Perth this weekend in a bid to resurrect his riding career.
“I am still full of passion for riding, and I would love to ride in races so I hope I can start my new career in Australia and get a second chance,” Chui said.
“I have to take some drug lessons before I can apply for a license. In that time I may have to do something else but I hope I can get my license in Perth and then after a while I might have an option to ride somewhere else.”