Goulburn horseman Jade McDonald is gearing up for the biggest day of his training career with stable duo Roc De Khaper and Departing Bullet tackling the TAB Highway Handicap at Kembla Grange.
McDonald said he couldn’t be happier with both his charges heading into Saturday’s stand-alone south coast meeting, which is headlined by the $1 million The Gong.
The former plumber, who rode trackwork for astute Goulburn trainers Emma Longmire and Greame Spackman, took out his NSW trainers’ licence late last year before establishing his breaking, training and pre-training operation on the Goulburn race track in January.
The New Zealand-bred Roc De Khaper produced an eye-catching second to Charmmebaby on a heavy track over 1500m in a Highway at Rosehill a fortnight ago and McDonald is buoyed at the prospect of the horse returning to 1600m on a firmer track.
“It was a beautiful run at Rosehill and the 1600 metre journey will suit Roc De Khaper down to the ground,” McDonald said.
“We’ve taken a very soft approach with him as he can get a bit jarry so we just try to keep him happy.”
McDonald said Roc De Khaper, who recorded his first win for the stable over 1600m at Wagga two runs back, had a tendency to over-race but he would eventually like to test the five-year-old over longer trips when he learns to settle.
Apprentice Qin Yong, who is credited as the first jockey from mainland China to have ridden a winner in Australia, has been booked to ride Roc De Khaper.
Consistent stablemate Departing Bullet was second emergency for the Tab Highway but has since gained a start following the early scratching of two runners.
The son of Bullet Train and More Than Ready mare She’s Ready finished a narrow second at Wagga two runs back before making late ground to finish just behind the placings at Gundagai last Saturday.
“It was a luckless run down the short stretch at Gundagai last start and by the time he started to warm up the race was over and done with,” McDonald said.
“I was hoping he’d get a start as I think he’ll be a real player as well.”
Newcastle apprentice Louise Day is engaged to ride Departing Bullet.