Melbourne Cup: McDonald confident

McDonald's Trainer Murray Baker was looking for anything after  It's A Dundeel  finished a distant seventh in Saturday's A$1.5 million Victoria Derby at Flemington. Photo / Sarah Ivey
McDonald's Trainer Murray Baker was looking for anything after It's A Dundeel finished a distant seventh in Saturday's A$1.5 million Victoria Derby at Flemington. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Jockey James McDonald tends to shy away from the accolades that have him marked down as the next star of Australian racing.

But he doesn't mind giving out the praise for his Melbourne Cup mount Fiorente, a horse he strongly believes can give Gai Waterhouse her first winner in Australia's greatest race.

The 20-year-old rode Fiorente at Werribee on Friday in the strongest and most impressive gallop he has had since arriving from England almost two weeks ago.

"He's improved out of sight every day he's been here," McDonald said.

"He looks great, he's working fantastic and he's in on a light weight. There's no reason he can't win."

Fiorente has won only twice from nine starts in England, where he was trained by Sir Michael Stoute.

The first victory came in a maiden at his second start, but his latest, in a 2400m group two race at Newmarket, earned him a A$1 million-plus price tag and a Melbourne Cup start.

In the Newmarket race he had Joshua Tree behind him in second place and last year's Melbourne Cup runner-up Red Cadeaux in third.

McDonald piloted Fiorente over 1600m at Werribee on Friday and gave the impression the potential identified by his trainer is emerging.

"He bowled over 1600m, worked into the corner really well and when I gave him a squeeze up the straight he extended like a really good horse," he said.

-AAP

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