Warwick Farm preview: A winning double will put James McDonald into rare company

Champion jockey James McDonald is on the verge of one of the rarest riding achievements in Sydney racing when he competes at the Warwick Farm midweeks on Wednesday.

McDonald needs to ride a double to raise the bat for a century of Sydney wins this season.

If McDonald does bring him up his ton on Wednesday, it will be the third successive season he has ridden at least 100 Sydney winners.

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James McDonald needs just two winners to crack the century for the third year in a row. Photo: Grant GuySource:The Daily Telegraph

McDonald rode 104 winners to claim the Sydney premiership in 2018-19 and then backed that up with 103.5 wins to retain his title last season.

Remarkably, only two jockeys have ridden at least 100 Sydney winners in three consecutive seasons.

Larry Cassidy was the first to achieve the feat in 1997-98, 1998-99 and 1999-2000 before Darren Beadman managed to ride a century of city winners in six successive seasons from 2001-02 to 2006-07 when he also rode an all-time record of 164 Sydney wins.

“I wasn’t aware of that record, I would be in good company alongside Darren and Larry,’’ McDonald told The Daily Telegraph on Tuesday.

“It has been a fun season, no doubt about that, and Tommy (Berry, 82 winners) is keeping me on my toes in Sydney.

“I will be doing a bit of riding in Brisbane over the carnival but hopefully I can get closer to 120 winners before the end of the season (July 31).’’

Former champion jockey Darren Beadman set the standard with six consecutive centuries including a record 164 Sydney winners. Photo: Simon Bullard/AAP ImageSource:AAP

McDonald has a full book of seven rides at the Warwick Farm meeting, all his mounts are at $6 or less in overnight betting and includes three early favourites – The Move (race 4), Falcon (race 5) and Mightybeel (race 7).

“The Move races up on speed and he will be hard to beat,’’ McDonald said.

“Falcon is second-up off a ‘mid-prep’ trial which is ideal for him. The only negative is the gate but I’m not too worried as he’s a big, strong galloper who makes his own luck and looks well placed.

“Mightybeel is racing well and looks very hard to beat in a winnable race.’’

McDonald also rides two fillies making their debuts for the Chris Waller stable – former New Zealand three-year-old Black Queen (race 1) and two-year-old Bella Rouge (race 2).

Black Queen, who is by Mongolian Khan, winner of the Australian Derby and Caulfield Cup, was runner-up at her only start Hastings late last year and Bella Rouge, a $600,000 Magic Millions purchase, impressed in a recent Randwick barrier trial win.

“I rode Black Queen in her trial where we didn’t ask her to do too much but she seems a nice filly,’’ McDonald said.

The Tony Gollan-trained The Move will be ridden by James McDonald at Warwick Farm on Wednesday. Photo: Claire PowerSource:News Regional Media

“Bella Rouge, I feel, will be a very smart filly in time. They don’t trial like she did and although she is still very green, I think she will run well in a ‘hot’ race.’’

McDonald is also on another Waller first starter, Greater Harlem (race 3) and the talented Nathan Doyle-trained mare Strawb (race 6).

“Greater Harlem is a beautiful looking horse, there won’t be one in the yard who will out do him on looks,’’ McDonald said.

“Strawb has her days but she is trialling really well and does look a nice ride.’’

The final word to Beadman, the Hall of Fame jockey, who says McDonald is “riding at the top of his game this season.’’

“It’s not easy to ride 100 Sydney winners in a season, it’s a very tough arena,’’ Beadman said.

“But James is really maturing into a champion rider. He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes and seems to win more tight finishes than he loses. He is very strong, fit and focused – he is the complete package.’’


Disruptor has defied the odds to complete a second comeback from serious tendon injury in the Darley 2021 Roster Handicap (1000m) at Warwick Farm.

The promising sprinter first broke down during winter two years ago soon after winning a late season juvenile race.

Trainer Gary Portelli patiently prepared Disruptor for a racetrack return in April last year and the gelding duly won first-up only to suffer a recurrence of the tendon problem.

“Disruptor has bowed the same tendon twice,’’ Portelli revealed.

“But I’ve got a treadmill in the stables now and it is perfect for a horse with a tendon issue.

“It’s been good work by my team to get this horse back to the races again.’’

Disruptor’s two wins have both been on his home track at Warwick Farm and he resumes over 1000m on Wednesday.

“His barrier trial was really good,’’ Portelli said of Disruptor’s second behind Exotic Ruby at Hawkesbury last week.

Trainer Gary Portelli has Disruptor ready to return from injury. Photo: Simon Bullard/AAP ImageSource:AAP

“But he has drawn awkwardly (barrier seven) for a 1000m race which is a bit of a worry for me.’’

Portelli is also sending Capital Reign back to the races for the Robrick Lodge Handicap (1100m) after the two-year-old gelding made a spectacular but wayward winning debut at Canberra earlier this month.

Capital Reign was going to win by a huge margin until he suddenly veered out forcing his jockey to stop riding and straighten his mount. The youngster was still able to score by nearly three lengths.

“I think what happened at Canberra was a bit of a one-off,’’ Portelli said.

“I’ve never seen him do anything like that before, he seemed to get lost out in front.’’

Portelli then sent the son of boom first season stallion Capitalist (sire of Captivant, Profiteer) back to the barrier trials where he romped home by nearly eight lengths on Warwick Farm’s synthetic track in a stunning display of sustained speed, recording a flying 42.85s for the 740m.

“He did everything right and went two seconds faster than anything else on the day,’’ Portelli said.

Originally published asWarwick Farm preview: JMac chasing a piece of history

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