Cambridge jockey James McDonald breaks new ground again today with his first ride in the Melbourne Cup.
As the 20-year-old sat perched on the back of a Mercedes convertible in the cup parade through Melbourne yesterday, he admitted it was all "a bit overwhelming for a Kiwi kid from the country".
"It's just pretty exciting really. Look how many people are queued up to watch. It's amazing, really. There's so much hype around the race," McDonald said yesterday.
"I just wanted to get Derby day out of the way before I started thinking about it and today it's all just starting to sink in what the Melbourne Cup is all about. It's all a bit overwhelming really but it's pretty awesome though.
"I thought [Hong Kong] International Day was huge and Cox Plate day was massive, but this probably overtakes it. It's just unbelievable."
McDonald rode English import Fiorente - a $26 chance on the New Zealand TAB - in training at Werribee last week and said he had instantly got excited about his Melbourne Cup prospects.
"He's a beautiful stallion and I genuinely reckon the horse is a great chance of running in the money," McDonald said.
"When I worked him during the week, he felt to me like he had a few gears there. Some of the European stayers are quite dour but he's got real zip. When he ran up the straight the other day he just kept quickening all the time.
"The gate [barrier two] is going to suit him. Mourayan is drawn three and the speed is basically all around us. We're going to end up in a beautiful spot. I'd love to stay one off the fence and give myself options.
"I watched his replays again last night and it gave me even more confidence the way he won that race [the Goldsmiths Stakes] at Newmarket.
"When he dashed away from them, he really put them away and he beat Joshua Tree and Red Cadeaux - two great horses. If he can bring that form to the Melbourne Cup he's going to be a great chance. He's down in the weights, so I think he's a smoky."
McDonald said it had always been his ambition to ride in the Melbourne Cup. "As a kid you always dream of riding in a Melbourne Cup but you never think you'll ever be able to do it," he said.
"It's great to be part of a race they say stops a nation and it's so international now it's probably the race that's stopping the world."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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