Racing: Star Kiwi jockey James McDonald a whisker from upset

By Michael Guerin

James McDonald (left, blue cap) has some work to do before storming home for second on Qewy behind Jennies Jewel in the Ascot Stakes. Photo / Getty Images
James McDonald (left, blue cap) has some work to do before storming home for second on Qewy behind Jennies Jewel in the Ascot Stakes. Photo / Getty Images

Kiwi racing hero James McDonald has described the moment when he almost pulled off a huge Royal Ascot upset as one of the biggest thrills of his stellar career.

McDonald went within a half neck of winning a 4000m handicap on the opening day of the royal meeting (this morning NZtime) almost grabbing victory with Qewy via a storming late finish on the 33-1 chance.

"To get that close to winning a race on the opening day at Ascot is a huge buzz, but I'd rather have got there," he laughed.

"He (Qewy) went a great race though and when you have this many top jockeys and such big fields for some of the race it isn't easy to even get a placing.

"At the furlong (200m) I thought I had a real chance and at the 100m I was sure we would win but he just couldn't get there.

"So far it has been an amazing week with hopefully more to come."

Qewy is trained by Charlie Appleby and raced by Godolphin, for who McDonald is a retained rider in Australia. ? McDonald started his career in the Waikato and while he now lives in Sydney he is still very much a proud New Zealander.

He was soon brought back down to earth as Qewy's second, finishing last with his only other ride for the day.

McDonald's main goal for the week is the Diamond Jubilee Stakes on Saturday (Sunday morning NZtime) on the John O'Shea-trained Holler.

"I've got 12 rides for the week and that is a huge result when you see the standard in the jockey's room here.

"It is definitely different from our big carnivals, even The Championships or Melbourne in the spring because everything is so proper and of course the Queen is at the track.

"And the horse flesh is very, very good. They don't just put them in to fill out the fields."

This is the third Royal Ascot meeting McDonald has ridden at.

"I'd love to get a win this week, it would be dream comes true stuff."

?He says Holler "has a cheeky chance" on Saturday at the straight racing won't be a disadvantage to him.

- NZ Herald

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