James McDonald has controversially split with Team Hawkes in favour of Godolphin, with both stables confirming the news on Tuesday morning.
In a successful partnership with the Hawkes brothers McDonald rode a total of 65 winners, including 20 this season alone. His tenure with the stable is highlighted by victory in last year’s $3.5 million Golden Slipper (1200m) aboard Mossfun and his final win was with Ninth Legion in the Listed Carrington Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
John Hawkes told RSN’s Racing Ahead this morning that an increasing resolve from McDonald to ride Godolphin-trained horses in favour of their own made the partnership untenable.
“He didn’t want to ride ours anymore he just wanted to ride Godolphin’s,” Hawkes said.
“It was his call he wanted to move on and that was fine.”
McDonald apparently did not contact the stable directly with his resignation, with the trainers informed by the jockey’s manager. He will now be the number one jockey for racing magnate Godolphin in Australia.
In a deal similar to what Kerrin McEvoy enjoyed, 22-year-old McDonald will get the first call on all John O’Shea-trained horses.
“James has made a decision to ride full time for us,” Godolphin racing manager Jason Walsh told TVN.
“It was his decision and we are delighted to have him part of the team. We haven’t pressured James in any way shape or form.
“He is very keen to make that association going forward. He is an elite rider who has been able to pick and choose and he has made the decision to ride for us on a full time basis and have first call on our horses.
“It is very exciting. John has enjoyed a very close relationship with him in the past and he’s excited about continuing that in the future.”
McDonald rode extensively for O’Shea before the trainer joined Godolphin. The relationship will continue to flourish after the pair met late last week to finalise the deal.
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