Champion jockey James McDonald showed why he remains hot favourite to win another Sydney premiership with a brilliant riding display at Kembla Grange on Saturday.
McDonald was at his sublime best winning on Bigboyroy, Mo’s Crown, Matowi and Accountability (on protest). He nearly made it five with Night Of Power in the closer only to be edged out on the line by Monegal.
With 39 winners so far this season, McDonald vaulted back to the top of the Sydney jockeys premiership from Tommy Berry on 37 wins.
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TAB Fixed Odds price assessors believe only injury, suspension or some other unforeseen circumstance can prevent McDonald from winning a fifth Sydney title — and a third in succession — by installing him as the $1.25 favourite to win the premiership.
Berry, who is having his best-ever start to a season, is next at $8 and Nash Rawiller is rated a $8 chance.
McDonald has ridden more than 100 city winners the last two years and is on target to achieve the feat again while Berry has positioned himself to also make a charge at the century-win barrier.
“At the current rate these guys are riding winners in town, I would say the chances of any of them breaking 100 metropolitan wins for the season would be close to $1.50,” TAB’s Andrew Georgiou said.
Chris Waller is on track for an 11th consecutive Sydney trainers premiership after preparing four winners at Kembla Grange to move to 43 wins for the season and open up a 20-win lead over nearest rival James Cummings.
Meanwhile Racing NSW stewards have adjourned an inquiry into Rawiller’s ride on Greek Hero in the last at Kembla Grange.
Stewards will consider all the evidence including race betting details before progressing the matter. Rawiller said Greek Hero was slow to begin and hampered soon after the start before blundering at the 900m and 700m but it’s fair to say the ride won’t go onto his career highlights reel.
SUPPORT LOOMS FOR HUNTER, GONG
Racing NSW will look to further bolster the hugely successful The Hunter and The Gong race meetings with rich support races next year.
Sydney’s extended spring carnival ended with The Gong meeting at Kembla Grange on Saturday with another excellent race meeting with soaring betting turnover and punter interest.
V’landys said improvements to race programming for both feature provincial meetings will be discussed during a review of the spring carnival.
There has also been speculation some metropolitan meetings could be transferred to Newcastle and Kembla Grange next winter to take pressure off Royal Randwick and Rosehill Gardens. V’landys said the issue hasn’t been canvassed at Racing NSW but added “we will look at it”.
V’landys will soon decide if he continues his dual roles as Racing NSW chief executive and NRL chairman next year.
But V’landys gave the strongest hint yet that he will remain in both positions after adroitly guiding each sport through the Covid crisis.
“I’ll have a break over Christmas and have a think about next year,’’ he said.
“But Andrew Abdo (NRL chief executive) is a great operator so it does make it a lot easier.’’
GONG RECIPIENT GETS PADDOCK REWARD
Archedemus has pulled in great shape after his tough The Gong win but Team Hawkes aren’t going to keep the gelding going for the Group 2 Villiers Stakes next month.
“We have decided to send Archedemus for a spell,’’ co-trainer Michael Hawkes said.
“The horse has done his job this campaign, he won his ‘Grand Final’ so he can have a well-deserved break and return for the autumn as he does enjoy tracks with a bit of ‘give’ in them.’’
Hawkes did reveal the stable is aiming last start Flemington carnival winner Outrageous at the Villiers Stakes with the gelding returning to Sydney for the Group 3 $160,000 Festival Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.
The Festival Stakes is going to attract a quality field with the likes of Through The Cracks, Sambro, Two Big Fari and Ranier likely starters.
The Rosehill meeting features three stakes races with the Listed $140,000 Starlight Stakes (1100m) likely to include Tactical Advantage, Evalinal Varda and Viridine, while the stayers will line up in the Listed $140,000 ATC Cup (2000m) with Black On Gold, Savacool, Rocha Clock, Bonvicini and Mantastic.
Glen Boss (Through The Cracks and Rocha Clock) and Kerrin McEvoy (Evalina, Varda, Bonvicini) make their returns to Sydney racing after spending five weeks in Melbourne through the spring.
After winning The Gong on Archedemus, Jay Ford will be chasing more big-race success at Rosehill on Plague Stone (Starlight Stakes) and Costello (ATC Cup).
Gust Of Wind, the last horse to beat the mighty Winx, has her first foal making his debut at Rosehill Gardens next Saturday.
Sirocco Gale is a two-year-old colt by super sire Snitzel and is being prepared by Winx’s trainer Chris Waller.
Winx, the all-time great race mare, was beaten by Gust Of Wind in the 2015 ATC Australian Oaks.
Remarkably, Winx never lost again, winning 33 races in succession including a world record 25 at Group 1 level but Gust of Wind didn’t win another race, finishing unplaced in nine races before she was retired to stud.
GODOLPHIN STAR DESERVED WINNER
Godolphin’s Ghaiyyath has been awarded the Cartier Horse of the Year in Europe.
The Charlie Appleby-trained Ghaiyyath, who has been retired to stud, was the dominant weight-for-age performer with three Group 1 wins in the Coronation Cup, Eclipse Stakes and Juddmonte International. He also earned the Cartier Older Horse award.
The other award winners were Battaash (Sprinter), Stradivarius (Stayer), Van Gogh (2yo colt), Pretty Gorgeous (2yo filly), Palace Pier (3yo colt) and Love (3yo filly). Trainer John Gosden was presented with the Award of Merit.
KEMBLA GRANGE SNAPSHOT
With RON DUFFICY
RUN OF THE DAY
It’s probably hard to go past the performance of The Gong winner Archedemus, who rode the solid speed and fought of all challengers. He may not have had the best formlines coming into the race but it was a typical sense of Team Hawkes timing to produce a horse perfect on grand final day.
FORGET THEY RAN
Where do we start but Activation and Greek Hero probably stand out. They both were slow into stride settling well back on a day that got harder to make ground as the day went on. As it turned out with clean starts they both would have just about won.
THE BLACK BOOK
Diorissima was another that had excuses after a slow start and surely she won’t be a maiden for long and while Greek Hero’s defeat was a hard pill to swallow for his supporters. Surely he gets another chance although it might be hard to get a price about him next time.
RIDE OF THE DAY
While James McDonald had a great day finishing with four winners, local apprentice Brock Ryan gets the gong as rider of the day with his winning double on She’s All In and Monegal.
He also would have got a good thrill being given a chance by Chris Waller riding Betcha Flying perfectly for her narrow defeat on Kembla’s biggest day.
NSW RACING — THE WEEK AHEAD
Monday: Ballina, Wagga Wagga
Tuesday: Newcastle, Port Macquarie
Wednesday: Warwick Farm
Thursday: Wyong, Narromine
Friday: Canterbury, Muswellbrook
Saturday: Rosehill Gardens, Kembla Grange, Bowraville, Coonamble, Wagga Riverside
Sunday: Newcastle, Grafton