NZ hoop set for big time

JAMES McDonald has never won a Guineas in Australia or at home in New Zealand, but at the top of his wishlist is the Caulfield Guineas. He hardly expects to win tomorrow’s race, but he can’t wait for the opportunity.

McDonald takes the Caulfield Guineas ride on Ashokan for John O’Shea, who is in the running for a classic placing if he can recapture his best Sydney form. McDonald could hope for nothing better.

”I have always wanted to have a ride in the Caulfield Guineas. It is one of those races that captures my imagination,” he said.

”It is a stallion-making race and these are races that everyone talks about, and I wanted to be involved in them and win them.

”When I made the decision to come [to Australia] it was these days with the big atmosphere which made it an easy one.”

McDonald first came to Australia to ride in the big time last year and freely admits he was a bit green.

”There is a lot more pressure over here,” he said. ”There is [pressure] at home as well, but it is different here. It is constant.

”I’m a lot more street-wise about it now than I was 12 months ago. I had that month in Hong Kong, which is really competitive, and I learned a lot from John Moore. It is just about being a bit tougher.”

McDonald is an undoubted talent but the difference from his ride in last year’s Golden Rose on Foxwedge and his winning effort on It’s A Dundeel in the Spring Champion Stakes at Randwick was marked.

”I think it is about having confidence to make a move and not second guessing yourself,” he said. ”I was very confident going into the race. I thought I was on the right horse.

”It will be a bit different on the weekend because we are taking on a champion in Pierro. He is just a superstar.

”Ashokan is a horse that is going to put himself in the race and his runs going into this have been very good without winning.

”I think the mile will really suit him.”

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