Young Cambridge jockey in fast lane
Cambridge jockey James McDonald played a starring role in yesterday's Melbourne Cup, continuing his meteoric rise in the international jockey ranks.
McDonald, 20, finished second in his first ride in the Melbourne Cup on the Gai Waterhouse-trained Fiorente.
The $6.2 million Melbourne Cup went to Australian stayer Green Moon, who gave Aussie jockey Brett Prebble his first win in the 3200m staying test.
Almost 1000 friends and family gathered around a big screen to watch McDonald's ride from the Clubhouse Cafe & Sports Bar in Cambridge.
Proprietor Jatin Bhai said it was as good as winning. "Everyone here had a bet on him, so there are some very happy people," he said. "And I reckon that slap he gave Brett Prebble after they crossed the line showed he was as stoked as anyone."
The placing confirmed McDonald's ability to judge a two-mile contender. After riding the English import in trackwork last week, he rated it a "genuine chance of running in the money".
McDonald said as a kid he had always dreamed of riding in a Melbourne Cup "but you never think you'll ever be able to do it".
Fiorente, which finished a length behind the winner, was the third cup runner-up for Gai Waterhouse, who previously trained Te Akau Nick (1993) and Nothin' Leica Dane in 1995.
The well-travelled Jakkalberry was a further 1 lengths away third.
A special bond between the first jockeys was evident as James McDonald congratulated Brett Prebble after the line of yesterday's A$6.2 million Melbourne Cup at Flemington.
The jockeys linked hands after they had crossed the line, Prebble having ridden Green Moon to success and McDonald chasing him home on runner-up Fiorente.
Apart from being the first two home and having ridden against each in Hong Kong, Prebble was something of an idol of McDonald's after he had visited his father Brett McDonald's training stables about 10 years ago.
The pair were photographed together and Prebble gave a 10-year-old McDonald one of his whips.
"It was a Sunline whip and I was tickled pink to get it," McDonald said last night.
"I remember the photo. I just came up to his elbow, whereas these days I tower above him. That must have been 10 years ago and who would have thought that 10 years later we'd be finishing first and second in a Melbourne Cup."
McDonald's day ended on a sour note when he was suspended for 14 meetings for causing interference 800m from home in the Cup.
However, McDonald said it wasn't has fault and has appealed.
Should he fail to get the sentence reduced, McDonald would miss the ride on Pure Elegance in the Gr I 1000 Guineas at Riccarton on Saturday week and Hong Kong the following day when he was booked to ride Champions Mile winner Xtension.