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Leading jockey James McDonald has faced a grilling from stewards at Randwick over his ride on well-beaten favourite Threeood.

Stewards questioned the hoop about his tactics early in the race but were particularly concerned with McDonald’s vigour over the final 300m.

Threeood started a solid $2.90 favourite and finished ninth of the 10 runners in the Heinenken 3 Handicap (1200m) won by Stella Sea Sun.

Stewards, led by Marc van Gestel, queried why McDonald let Threeood drift back in the field and the jockey said it was not his plan.

“I didn’t want to be where I was. I was trying to hold my position inside Spanish Dream but I couldn’t,” McDonald said.

There was no issue with McDonald’s riding approaching the home turn and early in the straight but both van Gestel and fellow stipe Wade Birch questioned the jockey’s efforts in the final stages.

Threeood was near the rear and behind a wall of horses and both stewards felt McDonald should have come to the outside earlier than he did.

The mare hit the line soundly once clear.

“You just seem very half-hearted on the horse, James,” van Gestel said.

The hoop explained the mare was not responding to his riding halfway up the straight and he thought something may have been amiss.

Stewards also called in Threeood’s trainer Joe Pride to clarify his riding instructions and thoughts on McDonald’s effort.

Pride said he told McDonald to settle her where she was happy but expected her to be much further forward.

He confirmed Threeood had been in good order during the week and was expected to run well.

Stewards have adjourned the inquiry.

Sydney’s leading jockey with 96-1/2 wins this season, McDonald was unable to extend his advantage at Randwick but remains on target to claim successive premiership titles.

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