One of jockeys central to the outcome of one of the most anticipated weight-for-age contests of the season wants to downplay his role in the race.
As the Sydney autumn carnival officially opens at Rosehill on Saturday with It’s A Dundeel and Fiorente the headline acts, James McDonald is trying to distance himself from the fanfare surrounding the Ranvet Stakes.
But the fact he is almost dismissive of the build-up as he prepares to ride It’s A Dundeel might provide an insight into how he has become one of Sydney’s best jockeys.
“It’s just another race isn’t it? It’s no different to any other race,” McDonald said.
“It’s A Dundeel has always had one good one to go up against. He raced against Boban last time and that was a big clash.
“The horse is well so that’s the main thing.”
Fiorente ($2.50) continues to hold the call as Ranvet favourite over It’s A Dundeel ($2.90) with trainer Gai Waterhouse adamant the import can be even better than he was in two Melbourne wins, the latest over the 2000m of the Ranvet.
“He is certainly at the top of his game,” she said. “The Australian Cup (win) really brought him to his peak.”
The Australian Cup form line has provided the winners of the past two editions through Manighar and Foreteller.
It was also the lead-in run for the first of Theseo’s successive wins in 2009.
In contrast to McDonald, Waterhouse says there is a sense of occasion building for her as she chases eight Ranvet wins while trying to help jockey Damien Oliver win his first.
And it could be because she might have a potential wildcard for the race in Carlton House.
“Sir Michael Stoute trained both horses in England … and he always felt Carlton House was superior to Fiorente,” Waterhouse said.
Carlton House, who occupies the third line of betting at $9.50, will be ridden by Kerrin McEvoy with Tommy Berry flying to Singapore on Friday to be with his twin brother Nathan as he battles viral encephalitis.
McEvoy’s booking means the jockey who is retained by the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, will be riding a horse his boss gifted to the Queen.