McDonald Tops the Group 1 Charts in Australian Horse Racing

Many respected horse racing pundits believe New-Zealand-born James McDonald is the best jockey in the world and it is hard to argue with that viewpoint.

McDonald has repeatedly showcased his talents in the southern hemisphere, winning numerous big races, championships and awards during his illustrious career.

The 32-year-old has been the punters’ pal in Australia again this season, riding 14 Group 1 winners to leave the bookmakers running for cover.

Many of the sportsbooks featured on Only Racing, a respected source of information for Aussie bettors, have been forced to make sizeable payouts on McDonald’s top-level wins this season.

His tally of 14 Group 1 successes was nine more than Jamie Kah, Craig Williams, Mark Zahra and Opie Bosson, highlighting why he is rated as the man for the big occasion.

“I’m very proud of it, it’s been an exceptional year,” McDonald said. “It’s as good a season as I could have ever hoped for, to be fair.”

“I still probably reflect on the near misses in Group 1s that could’ve gone either way – Zaaki being one in Perth, I Wish I Win in Brisbane and Fangirl (Verry Elleegant Stakes).”

“I’ve always wanted to win a VRC Oaks and a VRC Derby and was able to do both this year. That was a really cool thing to do. Zardozi’s victory in the VRC Oaks gave me a huge buzz.”

A recent bout of gallstones scuppered McDonald’s hopes of adding to his tally, but that does not detract from what has been a truly memorable season for him.

He has ridden 113 winners in Australia, 83 of which have come in Sydney. He is still in contention to win the Sydney jockeys’ premiership, although he could be overhauled by Nash Rawiller.

Overseas Triumphs

McDonald has also ridden 25 winners in overseas jurisdictions. That tally includes several Group 1 successes aboard Romantic Warrior, who is a star performer in the southern hemisphere.

The combination further cemented their legacy in the Grade 1 Yasuda Kinen at Tokyo Racecourse last month, producing a power-packed performance to see off their rivals.

“He’s a champion racehorse and it’s a very proud day for all of us – the whole team – because to showcase him to Japan was something very, very special in such a prestigious race,” McDonald said after the victory.

“I’m almost lost for words when I ride this horse because he’s got a big heart and he tries his best all the time. It’s such a hard jurisdiction to race in. There’s such good horses and great jockeys so it’s an absolute privilege to be here and to be winning such a prestigious race is very, very special.”

McDonald’s victory aboard Romantic Warrior in Japan was arguably the standout moment of a season which has fired him within touching distance of 100 Group 1 wins.

He is now just two winners short of hitting that landmark and will have a chance to move closer to the century in the $1 million Winx Stakes at Randwick Racecourse on August 24.

Awards on the Horizon for McDonald

Australian Racing Hall of FameMcDonald’s efforts this season mean he is guaranteed to be recognised at the prestigious 2023/24 Australian Racehorse of the Year awards on October 11.

Having topped the Group 1 standings for the fourth consecutive year, McDonald unquestionably deserves all the accolades that will come his way.

It seems inevitable that he will eventually be inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame, such is the impact he has made in the sport.

He would join legendary names such as Arthur ‘Scobie’ Breasley, George Moor and Darren Beadman on the list, and his inclusion would be richly deserved.