When James McDonald teams up with Godolphin head trainer James Cummings we all know it’s a powerful combination and the champion rider will be out to enhance their already impressive record together when he partners the classy Pericles at Rosehill on Saturday.
McDonald been called upon by Cummings 394 times and during the week combined for their 100th winner when Marquess scored at Warwick Farm – that’s a strike rate of over 25 per cent.
There’s still a way to go to reach his 353 wins for Chris Waller and 226 for John O’Shea but McDonald said his partnership with Godolphin and Cummings is important.
“One hundred winners for anyone is a big effort,’’ McDonald said.
“James Cummings is a great trainer and it’s always good to ride for him. He’s a very smart tactician and I really enjoy riding for him, we’re on the same page when it comes to that sort of stuff.”
Pericles is expected to be a major force when he resumes in the TAB Handicap (1400m) on the back of two impressive trials, particularly the latest, and McDonald is certain he can reach a high level this spring.
Of course the gelding was narrowly beaten by Lindermann in the Group 1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) earlier this year, failed to stay the 2400m in the ATC Derby then chased home Osipenko in the Frank Packer Plate (2000m) before a spell.
“He’s come back in great order and they’ve been happy with him at home,’’ McDonald said.
“They gave me a big push before the trial that he’d come back well. He was unlucky not to be a Group 1 winner, I don’t know how he didn’t win the Rosehill Guineas.
“We’ve found out his ideal trip is going to be a mile to 2000m maximum and I’m sure James will have some good targets for him later in the campaign.”
McDonald said a horse that excels in that 1600m-2000m range can always be relied upon to be competitive first-up at a trip like 1400m and Pericles will carry that expectation.
The four-year-old was $3.10 favourite with TAB on Thursday. He’s on the second line of betting at $11 for the Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) at the end of next month.
“The 1400m fresh looks ideal, he’s trialled well so there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be fighting out the finish,’’ he said.
“He is carrying a penalty, which he probably deserves for his record, and you’d expect him to improve but still be running extremely well.”
Caballus impressed McDonald with his Randwick win two weeks ago and says the Inglis Pink Bonus Handicap (1300m) could be a crossroad for the Chris Waller-trained youngster’s spring.
The $1 million yearling purchase was able to outgun talented filly Estriella and overcome a less than ideal scenario as he dropped in trip on his debut run.
“It’s very hard to go from 1250m on debut back to 1100m, which is a specialist sort of distance, and to beat a very smart filly, and giving her weight, so it all sets up really well for him,’’ McDonald said.
“I loved his win the other day. The second horse I know they have big raps on and he was in for the fight which I was so pleased with.
“The 1300m should suit him better and he galloped during the week beautifully. I think this is an important race for him in terms of where he fits in because we’re not far away from the big races.”
McDonald partners early favourite Tiz Invincible in the Listed $200,000 Chandon Rosebud (1100m) and said if the promising filly gets the breaks from the inside barrier she’ll be hard to hold off.
The Group 2 Percy Sykes runner-up, $2.50 with TAB on Thursday, easily won a trial at Warwick Farm last week.
“She’s come back in lovely order, she’s unlucky not to have already broken her maiden tag,’’ he said.
“She’s competed in some good races. The 1100m might find her a little short but she’s returned in good order with two smart trials and I like what I feel of her.”
– Racing NSW