If Guiseppina wins tomorrow's $200,000 Windsor Park Plate, James McDonald won't mind watching it from Sydney.

McDonald recommended Jonathan Riddell as his replacement for the mare he has come to love.

McDonald's contract requires that he rides in Sydney tomorrow.

Riddell as his replacement was readily accepted by owners Peter and Philip Vela and trainers Steven Ramsay and Julia Ritchie.


"James told me Jonathan is the toughest jockey he rides against out there and said he thought he would suit Guiseppina," said Ramsay yesterday.

Guiseppina goes into a head-to-head clash with nine-times group one winner Mufhasa in what will be a memorable clash.

Ramsay was delighted Riddell drove north from his Palmerston North base early this week to get his first feel of Guiseppina when he rode the classy mare in a gallop.

"Jonathan was impressed with her and I'm delighted he now knows her a bit better."

Riddell is a tough rider. Even though Guiseppina has drawn better then she did in the Makfi Challenge she needs time to settle and is almost always in the second half of a field until the final 400m of her races.

She may be in tight quarters in mid-field on the home bend with main rival Mufhasa up front and heading quickly for the winning post, but Riddell will make sure the mare is just as quickly out into the clear. Riddell showed so many times on Jimmy Choux last season how talented he can be in positioning a horse to make its final challenge.

If everything goes to plan, Mufhasa will be in front at the 200m with Guiseppina chasing him down hard with Xanadu and, possibly, Green Supreme running on strongly.

Ramsay is delighted with the progress Guiseppina has made since running fifth in the Makfi Challenge.

"She didn't like the track that day, but she had a go and wasn't that far away. Last season she wouldn't have handled that track at all and would not have been able to finish fifth.

"She's a lot stronger now and she's fully matured.

"Her work has been good and I think she'll run a huge race."

Mufhasa is trying for his 10th group one victory, a remarkable position for a New Zealand-based horse. He deserves the best ovation Hawkes Bay can turn on if he achieves that incredible goal.

Rider Sam Spratt lost her whip at the 250m in the Makfi Challenge last start and trainer Stephen McKee believes that made a significant difference.

Xanadu is an improving mare who finished strongly into second to Ocean Park in the Makfi Challenge and who will appreciate the step to 1600m this time.

Green Supreme is massively talented and a quick improver.

Don't miss this race, it will be talked about for the remainder of the season.

Naturally, the Windsor Park Plate will attract most attention but there will be plenty of interest in the under card.

Riddell could get his eye in early on the day when he rides The Hombre in the Aon Premier over 1200m.

The local galloper will not only enjoy the good footing but the 1200m is perfect at this stage of the season.

He did run second to Australian sprinter Atomic Force over that distance in the last Railway Handicap, a feat many of tomorrow's field would find beyond them, with one notable exception.

Ginner Hart, who has shown a touch of class, likes Hastings and under Alexander Fieldes' astute training should sprint well fresh. He receives 3kg from The Hombre.

Rollout The Carpet kicks off her season in the Gold Trail Stakes and seems to race better on left-handed tracks.

St Reims filly Kate finished well to win over this distance in much lesser company on the first day of the carnival and along with Fix should pose the main danger.