Hoop James McDonald cannot offer any insight into his 2014 Melbourne Cup ride Willing Foe, since he won’t get a ride on the gelding until Tuesday afternoon’s race.
McDonald will only get his first sit on Willing Foe when he’s legged up in the mounting yard at Flemington ahead of the Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at 3:00pm (AEDT).
It’s unusual for a jockey to never have ridden his horse prior to the race but trainer Saeed bin Suroor said it wasn’t necessary. The jockey was making his way back from engagements in Singapore last Monday when the other Godolphin runner, Cavalryman, underwent track work under Craig Williams.
“You would always love to ride them before, but in this situation Saeed (bin Suroor) said he doesn’t need me to ride him beforehand,” McDonald told TVN.
“The regular track rider has a very good understanding of him and it’s best to leave it to him to do all the track work.”
It was initially thought that McDonald would ride Cavalryman in the $6.2 million feature race, but when he was given the choice he elected to ride Willing Foe.
The eight-year-old gelding will jump from barrier 17 in the 2014 Melbourne Cup on Tuesday and is rated a $26 chance in the betting market at Ladbrokes.com.au.
He finished second in the Group 3 Geoffrey Freer (2700m), beaten just a neck by Melbourne Cup rival Seismos, on August 16 followed by a sound effort in the Group 1 Irish St Leger (2800m) last time out, in which he finished just outside the top three.
He carried a hefty 62kg in the St Leger but will luckily drop right down to 55kg for Tuesday’s race, which can only mean good things for Willing Foe.
McDonald noted that Willing Foe’s impressive win in the 2012 Ebor Handicap, defeating Royal Diamond, was a large factor in his choice of ride. The gelding then returned from a six-month break to win Ashton Park Stakes (2656 m) by six lengths before he had another 15-month injury enforced break.
“The big key for him is that he has good form on good ground and that’s what he’s going to get at Flemington,” McDonald said.
Four Melbourne Cup horses have won from barrier 17 but not since At Talaq in 1986.
The 2014 Melbourne Cup is finally upon us; make sure your online betting account at Ladbrokes.com.au is open and ready for plenty of betting action this Tuesday.
You could become $10 million richer this Melbourne Cup Day in the Ladbrokes MegaFecta. For just $1 you’ll get the chance to pick the first 7 horses across the line. Get them all right and you’ve won the $10 million grand prize pool.