McDonald booking a boost for Highly Geared

Nothing can boost a trainer’s confidence more than a telephone call from the manager of one of Australia’s best jockeys.

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Garry Kirkup was weighing up rider options for Highly Geared when James McDonald’s agent rang chasing rides for the leading jockey’s return to Sydney racing at Warwick Farm on Wednesday.

“I didn’t need to go looking any further,” Kirkup said.

“I was surprised James didn’t have a ride in the race and when his manager rang I said `no worries, I’ll put him down straight away’.”

McDonald finished the Melbourne Cup carnival as the leading jockey over the four meetings with four winners and 16 minor placings from 30 rides.

Retained by Godolphin, McDonald won the Wakeful Stakes for the stable but his biggest success came for Chris Waller when he coaxed a Darley Classic upset out of Delectation.

McDonald will be the only rider among the top four on the Sydney jockeys’ premiership table who will be in action at Warwick Farm.

Hugh Bowman and Blake Shinn are suspended and Tommy Berry has left for Japan to take up a month-long contract.

Their absence leaves McDonald in a strong position to make inroads into Bowman’s early lead in the jockeys’ title.

Early markets have McDonald on the first three favourites – Seagrove, Barood and Ghisoni.

Of his seven rides, Canberra-trained Highly Geared is the least fancied when she resumes in the All Too Hard @ Vinery Handicap (1100m).

But Kirkup likes her chances, based on a first-up record of two wins from three starts.

“She’s competitive in the right races and apart from Gerald Ryan’s horse it looks a pretty even race,” Kirkup said.

Ryan’s runner is the promising Skyclad, a colt which resumes after a light autumn campaign that netted a Rosehill win in May.

Skyclad has been prepared for a return against older horses with a narrow barrier trial win.


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