A maiden winner at a midweek meeting provided one of James McDonald’s most coveted victories, and a signal the remorseful jockey is set to return to elite racing.
The handful of spectators at Warwick Farm witnessed McDonald’s successful comeback from an 18-month disqualification, and it was a particularly poignant moment.
“My family have come over from New Zealand, my partner Katelyn (Mallyon) is up there,” he said.
McDonald saluted on the Chris Waller-trained Cormac after the $1.75 favourite beat stablemate Smiling Manolito to get off the mark in the TAB Handicap (1400m).
The 26-year-old ended up with a double after Monasterio provided the fourth of Waller’s five winners on the seven-race card.
Riding track work and trials since April 3, McDonald slotted smoothly into the groove race day ahead of a Group One assignment with the Matthew Dunn-trained Care To Think in the $700,000 weight-for-age Kingsford Smith Cup (1350m) at Doomben.
McDonald replaces the gelding’s regular jockey Jeff Lloyd, who was in the saddle when Care To Think finished sixth in last Saturday’s Doomben 10,000.
Long-time supporter John O’Shea also plans for McDonald to ride his developing stayer Live And Free in the Group One Queensland Derby (2200m) at Doomben on June 9.
“I wanted to get my eye in and now I’m looking forward to Brisbane,” McDonald said.
A two-time Sydney premiership winner, McDonald surrendered his role as Godolphin’s number one jockey in Australia after he profited $4000 from a bet on his mount Astern in 2016.
“It’s been well documented over the last week how much I’ve matured,” he said.
“It’s nice to get that one (first race) over and done with, even if I’d lost, just to get out there was good,” he said.
A 30-time Group One winner, McDonald then recorded two minor placings before Monasterio claimed the ATC Honours Flying Spur Mile.
While family and friends were track side to support, McDonald also received reassurance from afar.
“I had a phone call from Jimmy Cassidy today and he said: ‘Don’t fix it’. He said nothing’s broke so don’t fix it. It was really god advice.”