When James McDonald picked up Saturday’s Randwick fields he had to smile with the talent he will be riding but when he scanned the barriers he realised luck wasn’t with him.
“I think there are a lot of rides there on Saturday that will develop into the carnival and be very good winning hopes in bigger races. We just need some luck on Saturday,” McDonald said. “That didn’t happen at the barrier draw, every one of them drew close to the widest barrier. They will need to be good to be win.
Surround Stakes hopeful Funstar will be one of James McDonald’s plum rides throughout the autumn.Credit:AAP
”You expect one or two bad gates but it is the whole day on Saturday. I think there are a couple of them that are still good enough to win.”
Funstar, one of McDonald’s pin-up rides for the next couple of months, will be last in for the Surround Stakes after she came up with barrier 14 of 14 in her group 1 return.
The Flight Stakes winner has had two soft barrier trials and is ready to step out at 1400m.
“She will have to be good from out there, but she has definitely improved since the spring,” McDonald said. “She is already a group 1 winner and hopefully there is a fair bit more to come from her.
“There is always that level of improvement from the first-up run and that makes it a bit hard for her because she is giving that advantage away to most of her rivals.
“She is very sharp at the moment and if she gets the right run, she will be in the finish.”
The wide gate has given punters the opportunity to get $3.60 about Funstar in her first clash with Thousand Guineas winner Flit, who has the benefit of her Light Fingers Stakes win a couple of weeks ago and is on the same line of betting.
McDonald has made a couple of trips to Rosehill to get on Funstar in the lead-up to her autumn campaign.
“She is so classy and a real racehorse. When you get on her you feel it, even in the morning, but she does save her best for raceday,” McDonald said. “It is always a good day when you get on her, she is one of those types of horses.
“She has a big carnival in front of her and I don’t think she is going to disappoint anyone.”
McDonald has a great record on fillies in group 1s and will link with Verry Elleegant in the Chipping Norton Stakes, while he won the Vinery Stakes and Australian Oaks last autumn.
The quirky daughter of Zed returned by running fourth in the Apollo Stakes on a soft track and McDonald is hoping to get a similar surface on Saturday.
“She got her track that day and it makes a big difference to her,” McDonald said. “She needs that cut in the ground and then she is up to this level.”
McDonald is looking forward to the Australian debut of Imaging in the Liverpool City Cup. He is a listed winner over a mile in Ireland and caught the eye in a trial behind Expressway Stakes winner Standout during the week.
“He was pretty good in that trial. It is hard to know where sits against the horses over here but he is sharp enough to run a big race,” McDonald said.
“It will be show us where he fits against our horses on Saturday. I think, like a lot of my rides on Saturday, he is going to be very competitive and get better. He could be a Doncaster type.”
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