Tag Archive for: James McDonald

Missed The Cut makes no mistake – now world is his oyster

Missed The Cut looked a Group horse in a handicap as he completed a hat-trick in facile fashion in the Golden Gates Stakes at Royal Ascot.

The fast-improving Quality Road colt gave Australian jockey James McDonald a third win of the week, as he drew readily clear approaching the furlong marker.

His four-and-a-quarter-length beating of Asgoodassobergets handed young Classic-winning trainer George Boughey a second Royal Ascot winner of the week. Sun King and the staying-on Groundbreaker secured minor honours.

Lots to celebrate for George Boughey
Lots to celebrate for George Boughey (PA)

Boughey said: “He’s a smart horse and had been working very well. James was very complimentary about him and said he had a nice sit two off the rail. He was never going to have traffic problems from there.

“He’s a horse that could run around the world. As his pedigree is half dirt, he’s a horse with a huge amount of potential.

“He is the first horse who walked into the yard with a pedigree like that and his work has suggested that he is pretty smart.

“It means the world, it really does.”

McDonald was clearly impressed, saying: “Missed The Cut is a very good horse. He is very unassuming and went about his business in a relaxed manner.

“His turn of foot when I gave him a bit of rein, he really accelerated. He’s got some boot.”

Neil Callan records victory to savour with Rising Star

Neil Callan was able to celebrate a special winner at Royal Ascot courtesy of a 40-1 upset for Rising Star in the Kensington Palace Stakes.

While a third-placed finish behind Highfield Princess on All-Weather Championships Finals Day at Newcastle reads well, Marco Botti’s filly had since been beaten at Ascot and Beverley.

But partnered by Callan – riding his fifth Royal Ascot winner and first since 2013 following a prolonged spell in Hong Kong – Rising Star bounced back with a determined victory over Random Harvest.

“It’s only a handicap, but Royal Ascot is beyond anything else in the universe,” said Callan.

“This week of racing, no matter what race it is, it is a championship race and Rising Star was good today.

“I’ve been away in Hong Kong for 10 years. I was top five, I rode two Group One winners the season I left.

Rising Star (right) and Neil Callan won the day two finale
Rising Star (right) and Neil Callan won the day two finale (David Davies/PA)

“When you come back, you don’t pick these things back up. You have to work for it and you just hope you get the breaks. You need these opportunities and these sort of days and these winners to put you in the limelight – I’m just so glad it has come now.”

Botti said: “Obviously Rising Star was a big price, but we knew she had the ground.

“The draw was a little bit wide and we thought it was going to be a big ask to overcome the draw. Neil gave her a brilliant ride and I’m delighted for the syndicate of 10 people.”

Dark Shift provided jockey James McDonald with his second winner of the week as he motored to victory in the Hunt Cup.

Having been seen to great effect aboard Australian raider Nature Strip in the King’s Stand on Tuesday, the New Zealand-born rider adopted very different tactics aboard this Charlie Hills-trained grey.

A winner of three of his last four starts, and carrying a 5lb penalty for the most recent of those triumphs at Nottingham last month, 13-2 chance Dark Shot was dropped out towards the rear of the field early on as 29 runners bounded up the straight mile.

After making his move from the halfway stage, Dark Shot edged towards the front racing inside the final two furlongs and finished strongly to beat Intellogent (40-1) by half a length.

“It was always the plan to go for the Victoria Cup. We ran there and got a terrible draw. We needed to them run him again to get into this race,” Hills said.

“We ran him at Nottingham and he won there. It was a bit of a worry if we would get into the race two days ago. Anyway, it’s great. Myself and James McDonald go back a long way. He came to spend the summer with us eight years ago and we have become good family friends and for connections to let him ride the horse means an awful lot. I’m very proud.

“James is so good. Not taking anything away from our boys, we’ve got some great ones in England, but we just seem to get on well. It’s great to have James on our side.”

Dark Shift is Royal Hunt Cup hero

Dark Shift provided jockey James McDonald with his second winner of the week at Royal Ascot as he motored to victory in the Royal Hunt Cup.

Having been seen to great effect aboard Australian raider Nature Strip in the King’s Stand on Tuesday, the New Zealand-born rider adopted very different tactics aboard this Charlie Hills-trained grey.

A winner of three of his last four starts, and carrying a 5lb penalty for the most recent of those triumphs at Nottingham last month, 13-2 chance Dark Shot was dropped out towards the rear of the field early on as 29 runners bounded up the straight mile.

After making his move from the halfway stage, Dark Shot edged towards the front racing inside the final two furlongs and finished strongly to beat Intellogent (40-1) by half a length.

“It was always the plan to go for the Victoria Cup. We ran there and got a terrible draw. We needed to them run him again to get into this race,” Hills said.

“We ran him at Nottingham and he won there. It was a bit of a worry if we would get into the race two days ago. Anyway, it’s great. Myself and James McDonald go back a long way. He came to spend the summer with us eight years ago and we have become good family friends and for connections to let him ride the horse means an awful lot. I’m very proud.

“James is so good. Not taking anything away from our boys, we’ve got some great ones in England, but we just seem to get on well. It’s great to have James on our side.”

Rising Star caused a 40-1 upset in the concluding Kensington Palace Stakes.

While a third-placed finish behind Highfield Princess on All-Weather Championships Finals Day at Newcastle reads well, Marco Botti’s filly had since been beaten at Ascot and Beverley.

Nature Strip blitzes King’s Stand Stakes rivals

Australian raider Nature Strip ran out an emphatic winner of the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.

A multiple Group One winner in his homeland for Chris Waller, best known as the trainer of the great racemare Winx, Nature Strip was the 9-4 second-favourite for a much-anticipated international clash with Wesley Ward’s American challenger and dual Breeders’ Cup winner Golden Pal.

The writing was on the wall for supporters of the latter soon after the gates opened, however, with the usually rapid starter completely missing the break, from which point it was all about the Australian runner.

After initially taking a lead, Nature Strip – with the loose Khaadem for company – moved to the front two furlongs from home still full of running and found another gear once popped the question by James McDonald.

The rest of the field were simply left trailing in his wake as the seven-year-old engaged overdrive and passed the post with four and a half lengths in hand over Twilight Calls, with 200-1 shot Acklam Express and Mooneista close up in third and fourth respectively.

Waller was recording his first Royal Ascot winner after coming close with Diamond (now Platinum) Jubilee runner-up Brazen Beau in 2015.

He said: “It means a lot. We don’t get the chance to race against the English, the Irish and even Americans today an awful lot.

“It’s pretty special to bring a horse all this way and compete against the best in the world and to win the way he did.

“It was breathtaking, it was a good display and he’s a very good horse. He has been for a long time.

“I guess he’s in the twilight of his career, but he’s learned to be a racehorse now as he was tricky early on. It’s an honour to train him.

“Going international is very important to showcase our breed in Australia and of course he’s one of the highest-rated horses in the world and it’s stacked up.

“We’ll see how he is after this and we’ll make a decision later in the week on whether he runs in the Platinum Jubilee (on Saturday).

“This is definitely in the top five wins I’ve ever had.”

Twilight Calls goes to post for the King's Stand
Twilight Calls goes to post for the King’s Stand (David Davies/PA)

Connections of the placed horses were understandably thrilled with their efforts.

Henry Candy said of Twilight Calls: “It was a great run, wasn’t it? I’m absolutely delighted. What can you say about the winner. How many races has he won, how many million has he won – he is just a freak.

“I thought he ran a cracker. Ryan (Moore) said it was a messy start and he lost a length or so. That didn’t help – he would have been a better second that’s all. It would not have made the slightest difference. I would imagine he will go to York – somewhere where they go very quick. He loves this ground. A gorgeous horse isn’t he?”

Nigel Tinkler added of Acklam Express: “Fantastic. The winner is very very good. We thought we would finish in the first half, but we didn’t expect to finish as close as that. We’re absolutely delighted.

“He is just a lovely, lovely horse. York and obviously Goodwood are on the agenda. He shows he is very, very quick. We expected him to come from behind and run well, and he was ridden to win and that made him run better, if that makes sense.

“Probably we would have like to have been a bit further back early, but he really travelled. The winner is obviously very, very good.

“All the owners are very happy – they backed him to finish in the first half at 40-1.

“He has been to Dubai before, and the Breeders’ Cup will be high on the agenda. We went with Ubettabelieveit and we can’t wait to go back there.”

Chapple-Hyam looking to Intellogent to recapture his best form at Ascot

Jane Chapple-Hyam thinks she may have found the key to previous Group One winner Intellogent, who is set to tackle Wednesday’s Royal Hunt Cup at Ascot.

One of the biggest betting handicaps of the summer, the ultra-competitive cavalry charge over the straight mile is one of the highlights on day two of the Royal meeting.

The Newmarket handler admits she is still getting to know the well-supported Intellogent, who arrived in the yard after Christmas, with the ex-French seven-year-old having failed to run last season for Hughie Morrison.

He has had two outings this term, latterly finishing a length behind New Mandate in the Listed Paradise Stakes over the same course and distance he will encounter on Wednesday.

“He is a little bit quirky,” said Chapple-Hyam. “He is very talented, but he kind of has a mind of his own. We have been working hard to sweeten him up.

“On his Ascot run in the Paradise, just after the line he was on top of them all. He needs a strong pace, which he is going to get in the Hunt Cup.

“It is a race where you need a bit of luck on your side and you have to see where you are drawn and where the speed is.

“There are a lot of ‘ifs’ but he clearly was a good horse and we have tried to recapture that – he was rated 116 when he won the Group One Prix Jean Prat (in 2018).

“I think we have the found the key, but you don’t know until race-day.”

James McDonald is now set to ride Dark Shift, rather than Intellogent
James McDonald is now set to ride Dark Shift, rather than Intellogent (John Walton/PA)

Crack Australian jockey James McDonald was initially due to ride Intellogent, but he has now been snapped up by Charlie Hills to ride favourite Dark Shift, leaving Chapple-Hyam scrambling to find a replacement.

Though Dark Shift, who has won three of his last four outings – including an easy three-length success at Nottingham last time – needs a handful of horses to come out in order to get a run, McDonald is provisionally booked to ride the current 8-1 market leader.

Chapple-Hyam feels the movement of jockeys is a little unfair on the punters, who have supported Intellogent down from 33-1 to 16-1 in recent days.

She said: “In Australia and America, once you book a jockey, it is job done and you can’t change. Now the jockeys can only ride at one meeting a day (in Britain), I think that should be locked in, unless you are retained stable jockey and there is a non-runner and then you swap.

“If we are trying to do everything right by the punter, it is not fair on those people who might have had a bet on my horse because of the jockey booking.”

Claymore (left) will bid to cause an upset in the Hampton Court
Claymore (left) will bid to cause an upset in the Hampton Court (Tim Goode/PA)

Chapple-Hyam is also hoping Claymore can cause an upset in Thursday’s Group Three Hampton Court Stakes, where the Queen’s Reach For The Moon is hot favourite for the John and Thady Gosden training partnership.

Claymore has had just three career starts and was runner-up to subsequent Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Native Trail in the Craven Stakes on his seasonal bow before a bad draw scuppered his chance in the French Guineas at ParisLongchamp.

Chapple-Hyam said: “It is an interesting race, as clearly the Queen’s horse is the favourite and Frankie Dettori and John Gosden have been very bold about that. I think that is their banker and many people’s banker of the week.

“When Claymore was second in the Craven, the third horse – Hoo Ya Mal – was subsequently second in the Derby and people are forgetting that. I think he has got a bit of a squeak at 14-1.”

She quipped: “How should I say this? I’m not afraid to wreck the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee – it will be ‘off with her head’ if I do!

“He has got to run and take his chance. I would hope for the same going as the Craven meeting (good ground) and they don’t over-water.”

Saffron Beach (right) has a big chance in the Duke Of Cambridge
Saffron Beach (right) has a big chance in the Duke Of Cambridge (Tim Goode/PA)

Yet arguably the Dalham-based trainer’s brightest hope for success at the meeting is Saffron Beach, who lines up as the current second favourite in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes on Wednesday.

Last season’s Group One Sun Chariot winner has not been seen since beaten three and a half lengths by Lord North in the Dubai Turf at Meydan in March.

Chapple-Hyam added: “She is in very good order and I’m very pleased with her.

“She galloped good last Wednesday and we just have to sit tight and wait for Wednesday. All the work is done and there are no concerns about the ground – she goes on anything.”

Setback scuppers Melbourne Cup bid for Away He Goes

Goodwood Cup runner-up Away He Goes has met with a late setback which will rule him out of the Melbourne Cup, leaving intended jockey James McDonald unlikely to have a ride.

The news is a blow to to connections having gone through the rigorous veterinary checks introduced ahead of this year’s Spring Carnival for overseas runners.

Ismail Mohammed’s five-year-old, who was last seen finishing seventh in the Ebor, is reported to have suffered a tendon injury.

Crack jockey McDonald had been booked and it was a second big blow for him having also seen his Cox Plate mount, Zaaki, ruled out on the morning of the race.

“I rocked up at Werribee and I walked over to his box and they gave me the bad news,” McDonald told www.racing.com.

“The horse actually looked absolutely glowing in the past, but unfortunately, he had a sore leg.

“It’s just another one that’s gone amiss before a big day.

“As they say, that’s racing.

“They’re highly tuned athletes that are trained to the absolute peak condition, and anything can happen with them.”