New Zealand’s ace apprentice hoop James McDonald made a promising start to the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival at Flemington on Saturday, the in-demand 19-year-old riding Queensland raider Temple Of Boom to an impressive win in the $15,000 Group 3 Aurie’s Star Handicap (1200m).
After three earlier rides on the Flemington card, the best of which was a second aboard the David Hayes-trained Maraseem in the second leg of the Asian Young Guns Challenge, McDonald finally entered the winner’s circle at Australia’s premier racecourse.
“The straight is pretty tricky and I was found wanting the first time in the 1000-metre race but I sorted it out and came away with a win,” McDonald said.
In a gutsy effort by both jockey and galloper, McDonald rode Tony Gollan’s Piccolo five-year-old Temple Of Boom ($8) to a three-quarter length victory over the Jim Conlan-trained Group 2 winner Rekindled Interest ($13) while Peter Snowden’s Canny Lad six-year-old Offenders ($7) crossed for third.
Race favourite was the Colin and Cindy Alderson-trained Perturbo ($3.20) who wasn’t disgraced in finishing fourth, one and three quarter lengths away from the winner.
The Aurie’s Star victory was a massive form turnaround by Temple OF Boom, who last month was beaten into 10th place in the Listed WHK Ramornie Handicap (1200m) at Grafton.
Saturday’s success also saw the Toowoomba-based galloper retain their flawless record at Flemington, Temple Of Boom having won a Listed feature at the track on Crown Oaks Day during last year’s Melbourne Cup Carnival.
Aurie’s Star runner-up Rekindled Interest looked on the right track for their 2011 Cox Plate campaign, their second to Temple Of Boom being their first run since finishing fifth in the Victoria Derby at Flemington on October 30 last year.
In current Cox Plate odds, Rekindled Interest is rated a $31 chance for the $3 million weight-for-age feature to run at Moonee Valley on October 22, 2011.
Winning aboard Temple Of Boom in the Aurie’s Star was also a nice appetiser for McDonald who is anticipating the ride aboard Queensland Oaks winning mare Scarlett Lady in her Melbourne Spring campaign, including the coveted Melbourne Cup 2011.
The first Kiwi apprentice to ride 200 plus winners in a single season back home, McDonald has to date enjoyed five Group 1 victories and has ridden winners from Australia to Singapore.
Still, he rated the Flemington win on Saturday as one of his career highlights.
“For my first win at Flemington to be down the straight and a Group Three race makes it an even bigger thrill,” he said.
Temple Of Boom has now won eight of their 22 career starts earning over $680,000 in prize money, but has not been entered for any of the spring majors.
Gollan is awaiting sprint nominations this spring, Temple Of Boom having finally secured a win over 1200 metres after nine earlier attempts at the distance.
“My only instruction to James was to just ride him to get the 1200 metres and he has found it quite well,” Gollan said on Saturday.
McDonald also expressed the good effort by the horse over the 1200 metres, describing Temple Of Boom as a “beautiful ride.”
“He definitely got the 1200 today,” McDonald said.
“There was no stopping him.
“He is just a beautiful ride.
“He dropped the bit in behind them and really cruised up and put them away pretty quickly.”
With Temple Of Boom’s good record at Flemington, Gollan named the Group 2 Salinger Stakes (1200m) there on Victoria Derby Day, Saturday October 29, as the main aim.
“There is a race for him back here in a month, he said.
“We’ll keep him to this lower grade and perhaps later have a go at the Salinger.
“We have a 100 per cent record at Flemington and hopefully we can keep it there for the rest of the carnival.”
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