Kiwi jockey James McDonald believes Hartnell can give Winx 'a good run for her money'
Champion New Zealand jockey James McDonald looks set to have a major influence on the remainder of the Melbourne spring carnival.
Following his quick fire Group I wins aboard Hauraki in the Epsom Handicap and Hartnell in the Turnbull Stakes on the opening weekend of this month, Godolphin's stable jockey then copped a careless riding ban.
McDonald will be back in action this week and at Moonee Valley on Saturday he will be plotting the downfall of Winx, Australia's current queen of the turf, in the A$3 million (NZ$3.2m) Group I Cox Plate.
The 24-year-old will continue his association with the John O'Shea-prepared Hartnell in Australasia's premier weight-for-age contest.
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"He's flying and I'm happy with the gate (seven) and that gives me a bit of space and I won't have to be pushed into anything," McDonald said.
"If the breaks go his way then we will be giving Winx a good run for her money."
McDonald paid tribute to O'Shea's conditioning skills to have Hartnell in career-best form.
"He has had a great preparation right from the start – he's been trained to perfection," he said.
McDonald is also looking forward to riding Hartnell at Flemington on the first Tuesday in November.
"I've always thought he would be a better chance in the Melbourne Cup," McDonald said.
The Godolphin representative will carry 56kg – with the withdrawal of topweight Preferment - and he will concede only a kilo and a half to the Group I Caulfield Cup winner Jameka with 54.5kg.
The Cup favourite Hartnell gave the Ciaron Maher-trained mare two and a-half kilos and a three and a-quarter length thumping the last time they met in the Turnbull Stakes.
Hartnell aside, McDonald's leading Group I carnival rides also include Astern in the Coolmore Stud Stakes and the Caulfield Cup runner-up Scottish in the Emirates Stakes.
"I've been looking at the markets and in most of the big races I'm on either the first or second favourites," he said.
– NZ Racing Desk.