Former Sydney premiership-winning jockey James McDonald embarks on a busy return to racing at Warwick Farm following an 18-month disqualification.
McDonald had his final hit-out during barrier trials at Randwick on Tuesday ahead of his comeback on Wednesday.
The 26-year-old has six rides at Warwick Farm on Wednesday, including four for Sydney’s premier trainer.
Chris Waller is among the trainers to support McDonald after the jockey’s fall from grace for having an interest in a $1000 wager on Godolphin colt Astern, which enabled him to profit $4000.
“That’s been very satisfying and hopefully the support will continue. It’s up to me,” he said.
“During my time off I was worried about how I’d be received by trainers when I came back.”
McDonald’s first ride will be on odds-on chance Cormac for Waller in the TAB Handicap (1400m).
It will be his first ride since the Group One Darley Classic at Flemington in November, 2016.
“Obviously there’s great expectation but I can’t force anything. I’m in as good a condition as I’ve ever been and I’m feeling good,” McDonald said.
McDonald also rides two-year-old filly Press Box, the $2.60 favourite in the [email protected] Handicap (1400m) as Stryke Rock and Monasterio for Waller.
He has the John Sargent-trained Tinkermosa on trial for a trip to Brisbane, where McDonald hopes to be for Queensland Oaks day at Doomben on Saturday week.
A 30-time Group One winner, McDonald rounds out his Warwick Farm book with long-term supporter John O’Shea’s four-year-old gelding Kitteau, the $6.50 joint favourite for the TAB.com,au Handicap (1400m).
McDonald was Godolphin’s contracted rider and O’Shea was the global thoroughbred empire’s head trainer in Australia when the jockey was disqualified by Racing NSW stewards.
O’Shea had no doubt McDonald would slip back into the groove.
“He’s had a significant number of trials and to my eye he hasn’t lost any of his zest for racing or the manner in which he rides,” he said.