It took James McDonald a little while to come down from Saturday afternoon after spinning Nature Strip and Zaaki around Randwick, but the most exciting thing is he knows it was only the beginning.
“You don’t have days like that too often,” McDonald said. “It was good to see them perform to expectations and show they are back.
James McDonald reaches out to give Zaaki a celebratory pat on SaturdayCredit:Getty
“That was the perfect beginning and there is much more to come from both of them.”
McDonald has been part of the Nature Strip story since he joined the Chris Waller yard and feels he is a complete sprinter in control these days. Interestingly, he says Zaaki compares well with Hartnell.
The way he rode Zaaki had a similar look to the four-time group 1 winner when he was crushing his rivals during the Sydney spring of 2016 before meeting Winx at the peak of her powers in the Cox Plate.
“There are a lot of characteristics about them that are similar. They have the same personality,” McDonald said.
Nature Strip laid down an Everest marker with an easy win in the Concorde Stakes on Saturday.Credit:Getty
“Zaaki is such a confident horse now, and he has this really good rhythm to his stride that gives you a really good feel.
“It’s not going get any easier for him from now on, but when you are a confident horse like him, it’s going to be pretty hard to beat him wherever he runs.”
McDonald has been in the saddle for the majority of Verry Elleegant’s wins, and he doesn’t know if he will have to choose between the pair in the George Main Stakes.
“Let’s just hope they go different ways,” he said.
Anamoe is a $3.50 favourite for next month’s Golden Rose.Credit:Getty
After riding two of the best horses in the country on Saturday, McDonald will get on another star when Sires’ Produce Stakes winner Anamoe returns in the Run To The Rose at Kembla Grange on Saturday. The three-year-old missed some crucial recent gallops due to an elevated temperature.
“I can’t wait for Anamoe. I have been waiting for him since the Sires’,” McDonald said. “He was great in the trial I rode him in [on Friday].
“He wasn’t there to do anything at all. He was just there to be stimulated and get the nerves out of his system.
“He had a good look around and a good sweat, so he will be ready to go. It’s always a worry, a horse having a setback, but he felt great.”
The Inferno still has to prove he is Everest worthy
Cliff Brown likes the idea of getting a slot in The Everest with former Singapore star The Inferno after his McEwen Stakes victory on Saturday, but admits he will have to do more to earn his spot at Randwick next month.
Brown has returned from a successful stint in Singapore and is building a team out of Mornington with his Singapore star following him back to Australia.
“They have slashed the prizemoney at the top end over there and there just weren’t any races for him,” Brown said. “Luckily his owners agreed with me and let him come back to Australia with me.
The Inferno takes the McEwen Stakes at Moonee Valley.Credit:Getty
“That was a good strong win, but we haven’t talked to anyone about The Everest, and realistically he would have to do it again before anyone would be interested.
I would like him to be in a $15 million race, but he has to prove he can get there.
“He races best with three weeks between runs, so we will give him a week to recover and then find the next race for him.”
Racing NSW reminder about COVID protocols
Racing NSW stewards have sent a clear message, giving jockey Billy Owen, apprentice Teaghan Martin and four stablehands three-month bans for attending a party during lockdown in Canberra last week.
It is the height of stupidity that any racing staff would attend a party a day after Jamie Kah, Ben Melham and co had been given a three-month suspension for breaking COVID-19 restrictions in Victoria.
Racing NSW published its revised protocols on Sunday, which included a note of thanks for the compliance of participants, but it also had a clear message that breaches would not be tolerated.
“The unfortunate recent occurrences in Victoria and the ACT involving a small number of licensed participants outlines how the health, safety and livelihoods of all thoroughbred industry participants can be jeopardised by the actions of a select few,” the notice read.
“Whilst the industry has been able to continue to operate during the pandemic, Racing NSW takes this opportunity to ask participants to remain steadfast with their compliance to the Racing NSW policies and protocols, and of course all NSW health orders.”
Newnham has big plans for Big Parade
Randwick trainer Mark Newnham is hoping for the same firm conditions he had last month as Big Parade returns to Kembla Grange for the Theo Marks Stakes on Saturday.
Big Parade and Josh Parr take the Ranvet at Kembla Grange last month.Credit:Getty
The powerful sprinter made his own luck and crushed his rivals at Kembla four weeks ago and has had a tick over since.
“The form out of that race hasn’t been that good, but I thought he was very good,” Newnham said. “We have a plan with him to space his runs, so it will this run and then the Sydney Stakes, unless someone wants to give us an Everest slot.
“There are good series of races for him through The Hunter and I think he will be competitive in any race he runs in.”
Newnham will split his two good sprinters with Splintex headed to Melbourne for the Bobbie Lewis Quality down the Flemington straight.
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