James ‘Macca’ McDonald is back riding in Sydney after a stint in England over their summer season and is booked to reunite with the John O’Shea-trained Haussmann in Saturday’s Winter Stakes 2015.
Talented Kiwi expat McDonald left Australia last month for a stint riding in the northern hemisphere for global powerhouse Godolphin and will be back riding in Sydney at Warwick Farm on Wednesday for the first time since June 3.
When he left he held a 10-win lead over Hugh Bowman in the Sydney Metropolitan Jockeys’ Premiership but has since missed the last 11 city meetings.
He has ridden a total of 88.5 Sydney winners this season and is still heading the premiership standings, albeit by just the one victory over Blake Shinn, despite his time away.
Following a full book of seven mounts on Wednesday, four of which are for O’Shea and Godolphin, McDonald will return to Saturday racing at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.
The day’s feature race is the $100,000 Listed Winter Stakes (1400m) and McDonald has a very strong chance in the Black Type, O’Shea putting him back on classy Commands five-year-old Haussmann.
McDonald last rode the five-year-old for a disappointing 11th in the Luskin Star Handicap (1300m) at Scone in mid-May where a big weight (59kg) and wide gate (15 of 15) ruined their chances.
After that Haussmann improved with apprentice Brodie Loy aboard to run fifth over 1400m behind Mirage at Rosehill on June 13, a track he returned to win the Listed Civic Stakes (1350m) on a Heavy (8) course with Christian Reith in the saddle on July 4.
With two weeks between runs and McDonald back aboard, Haussmann is a top chance in the Winter Stakes when taking on similar field to that he defeated in the Civic Stakes at the start of the month including Two Blue (2nd), See The Word (3rd) and Rugged Cross (4th).
O’Shea however is keeping his confidence in check.
In the Civic Stakes Haussmann got a gun ride from the inside alley jumping from barrier one of 12 while the Kristen Buchanan-trained runner-up Two Blue did it tough from an outside gate.
Godolphin’s private trainer down under knows that another good gate and the right track conditions on Saturday are both crucial if Haussmann is to secure back-to-back Listed wins this Sydney Winter Racing Carnival.
“Haussmann is racing in good form but his chances on the weekend are very much dependent on his barrier draw and what the weather does between now and Saturday,” he told The Daily Telegraph on Monday.
Another intriguing Winter Stakes entry and the top rated of the nominees is the Gai Waterhouse-trained Spurtonic (101).
The Flying Spur five-year-old hasn’t raced since finishing dead last (11th) in the Listed Mornington Cup Prelude (2000m) at Caulfield in late February, after which he was found to be suffering from a throat problem.
He has had two trials ahead of his return but was unplaced in both run on Heavy tracks over 1200m at Randwick and Warwick Farm respectively last month.
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