Daily News Wrap

7 min read

McDonald in the groove

Leading Sydney jockey James McDonald made a fleeting visit back to his homeland on Thursday to ride at Te Aroha and duly made his presence felt with a hat-trick of winners.

“I haven’t ridden in New Zealand for probably three years, so it’s good to be back here,” he said.

“It’s not a high-profile meeting, but it’s good to put the colours back on and get among the boys. I haven’t seen them for a fair while, so it’s really good.”

Sir Peter Vela’s private trainers Steven Ramsay and Julia Ritchie encouraged McDonald to ride at the meeting and they provided him with two winners – Naval Fleet (NZ) (Declaration Of War {USA}) and Maison Roxanne (NZ) (Snitzel).

James McDonald aboard Naval Fleet

“It’s well documented that Sir Peter Vela has been a great supporter of mine,” McDonald said. “It’s always good to come back and ride for him.”

McDonald said he is looking forward to returning to New Zealand later this month to partner Maison Roxanne on Karaka Million night.

“She is a beautiful filly,” he said. “I think she has got a lot of ability and hopefully she can measure up on Karaka Million night.”

McDonald is also looking forward to riding the Sir Peter Vela part-owned Long Leaf (Fastnet Rock) in the Karaka Million 3YO Classic.

“I think I have got a good ride for Sir Peter Vela in the Karaka Million mile in Long Leaf, trained by David Hayes, so I’m looking forward to him coming over,” he said.

McDonald capped off a successful day at Te Aroha by also winning on the Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained True Enough (NZ) (Nom Du Jeu {NZ}).

Former Aussie sprinter wins in New Zealand

Ardrossan (Redoute's Choice), unbeaten in his homeland, was decisive in his winning return for original trainer Stephen Marsh at Te Aroha on Thursday when scoring by two lengths after stalking the pace.

The son of Redoute's Choice was originally trained by Marsh in New Zealand for two winning starts, including the Te Rapa Listed Waikato Equine Veterinary Centre Stakes, before being sent across the ditch to Mick Price for loftier targets. He was well beaten in his three Australian starts, with soundness issues and a heart irregularity plaguing his preparations.

As he is still an entire, there are plans in place for Ardrossan to earn his spot on a stallion roster - most likely Waikato Stud whose silks he carried to victory.

Ardrossan is out of the Gimcrack S. runner-up Miss Argyle, also the dam of two other stakeswinners in Bergerac (Drumbeats) and Cheyenne Warrior (Not A Single Doubt).

Kennewell shutting Adelaide stable

South Australian racing has taken another major hit with successful trainer Lloyd Kennewell on Thursday announcing the closure of his Morphettville training stable.

He is now established in Victoria and made the decision to solely focus on his operation there following the South Australian Government’s move to cut funding and prize money in the state.

Lloyd Kennewell with jockey Joe Bowditch after Viddora's G1 win in the Moir S.

“On February 1 we will be moving in to a 30-horse barn recently renovated by the Melbourne Racing Club,” Kennewell said.

“I am thrilled by this and I feel that it will allow us to get great results and have more runners in a state that is moving forward, but most importantly gives us stability for the future.

“There is disappointing news coming out of Adelaide in regards to the funding and prize money cuts that the Government have made.

“We are already well below the prize money compared to the eastern states and our costs are not that much different, which really hurts the industry.

“It is very said to see this happen in such an historic state of racing and there is no doubt the future of racing in the state is in turmoil.

“With a heavy heart this has left me with no choice but to speed up my decision to close the Morphettville operation down, which will be effective from the end of January.

“I will be looking at moving all the horses in training to the Caulfield base, but will be discussing each horse’s future and what my plans are with them in the coming weeks with all their respective owners.”

Draw a major concern

Trainer Liam Birchley is worried about a wide barrier Neptune's Spear (NZ) (Super Easy {NZ}) in Saturday’s QTIS Two-Year-Old H. at the Gold Coast.

The colt's mission is the Karaka Million at Ellerslie on January 26 and Birchley will break a rule of not starting his horses from wide barriers in sprint races.

“I have no choice but to run him on Saturday. I can't start him Magic Millions day and there isn't even a race in Sydney,” he said.

“He needs to have a run before he leaves for New Zealand the week after next.

“He has above average early pace so he should be able to get across into a reasonable position.”

Neptune’s Spear was purchased out of Hallmark Stud’s draft at Karaka for NZ$140,000 by Birchley and boasts a pedigree with an international flavour.

Neptune's Spear as a yearling

Family members include Behrens, (USA) (Pleasant Colony {USA}, who won two editions of the

G1 Gulfstream Park H. and the two-time G1 Saratoga Whitney H. winner Commentator (USA) (Distorted Humor {USA}).

Birchley has already won the Karaka Million with Sister Havana (NZ) (General Nediym) and Hardline (NZ) (Showcasing {GB}), the latter also coming out of a Hallmark draft for NZ$130,000.

Bosson back on top mare

Leading rider Opie Bosson will be reunited with Melody Belle (NZ) (Commands) in her next appearance.

He will partner the Jamie Richards-trained and Fortuna-raced mare in the G1 JR & N Berkett Telegraph at Trentham on January 19.

Opie Bosson aboard Melody Belle

Bosson has been booked for the mount following Shafiq Rusof’s suspension for his ride on Melody Belle when third in the G1 Railway S.

“We are disappointed for Shafiq that he has copped a suspension, but we are very happy to engage Opie,” Fortuna Director John Galvin said.

In three rides on Melody Belle, Bosson has won the G2 Sires’ Produce S., the Listed Karaka Million and the G3 Mongolian Khan Trophy with her.

Gollan mindful of breeding career

With an eye to the future, trainer Tony Gollan is hoping for further success with Metis (I Am Invincible) at the Gold Coast.

The front-running mare will be out to complete a hat-trick of wins when she steps out in the Aquis Farm Plate on Saturday.

“I got her late as an older horse and one of my owners Darren Kuhl bought her out of a paddock and we were able to syndicate her,” Gollan said.

“She is well-bred being by I Am Invincible so it is important for future breeding reasons to get wins beside her name.”

Metis has won her past two starts at Ipswich and Warwick over 800m.

“I was taking one of my horses to Warwick for a Magic Millions Country Cup qualifier (All Important) when I noticed there was also a race for Metis there,” he said.

“She won as did another of my horses Spitz but the one in the Cup qualifier got beaten. That's the way things go.

“Metis is a speedy little thing and I think the Gold Coast 900 metres should suit.

“It will be an achievement to get a metropolitan win with her for breeding later on.”