James McDonald has signed off from Sydney racing for the season with a winning double and confirmation of how valuable he is to Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin operation in Australia.
McDonald got the best out of Godolphin gallopers Maternal and Cabalistic in their wins at Warwick Farm on Wednesday in what was his final Sydney race meeting before heading overseas.
He leaves for England 24 hours after riding at Doomben on Saturday where he will be aboard the fancied Godolphin sprinter Knoydart in the $2 million Stradbroke Handicap.
McDonald is in line to have Royal Ascot rides for Godolphin as part of a stint expected to last for two months.
Godolphin’s Australian trainer John O’Shea said the departure of his stable jockey would leave a void.
“I’m sure he’ll have a good trip but we will miss him and I’m just hoping he doesn’t ride too well and the boss wants to keep him,,” O’Shea said.
McDonald’s double took him to 87-1/2 metropolitan winners for 2014-2015 but he will be long odds to defend his premiership because his lead over nearest rival Hugh Bowman is only 6-1/2 victories.
The first win for Maternal at her second start gave O’Shea reason to think she might be the best progeny so far from the four-time Group One winner Divine Madonna.
Sent out a $5.50 chance in the Cellabrations Handicap, Maternal raced in behind the leading division before she was urged between the Gerald Ryan stablemates Bubbleberry and Stilettoed Vixen to score a narrow win.
Godolphin won a similar two-year-old race last year with Abduction, a filly who earned black-type with a Listed win and a placing in the Group Two Wakeful Stakes and O’Shea said he was happy to make a comparison.
“She appreciated being ridden just that bit quieter, although she’s not quite as quick as (her mum) with her finish,” O’Shea said.
“I think she’s going to go better with a bit of time and over a mile … a bit like Divine Madonna.”
Cabalistic found his best barrier manners to outstay his opposition in the Tab.com.au Handicap.
In a slogging finish, Cabalistic ($5) got the better of the favourite Maurus ($3.30) and Super Mover ($5) after taking no part in a Gosford race last week when he stayed in the starting stalls.