The fact champion Kiwi jockey James McDonald didn't go for his regular walk yesterday doesn't bode well for Not An Option at Randwick today.

The New Zealand galloper has been leant out by trainer Tony Pike to Sydney trainer Richard Freedman with the aim of earning some Australian Group 1 black type, which would help the potential stallion career he was bought for this season.

He is using today's 1300m race as a lead-up to that Group 1 goal in Queensland next month.

Not An Option will be paired with McDonald in the opening race at Randwick today and faces carrying 60kg, so the wonder jockey didn't have to bother going for his usual Friday pre-race walk to trim any kilos off to ride the exciting youngster. Which is just as well.


"I almost always got a walk the day before the races but not so far today because it was too wet and then too cold," McDonald quipped.

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But that Sydney weather report spells trouble for Not An Option today.

The Randwick track was rated a heavy 9 last night and the cold weather means there will be virtually no drying before the race.

"Yep, it's not drying weather at all and I think at best it will be a heavy 8, which isn't ideal," says McDonald.

"On how he trialled if he was on a good track I think he could carry that 60kgs and still win.

"But the way the track is going to be means he won't be as comfortable and carrying the 60kg becomes a lot harder. So I'd warn punters to maybe be careful with him."

McDonald goes into today's meeting 8.5 wins clear of Nash Rawiller on the Sydney metropolitan premiership, his mounts there having won a staggering A$12.5 million so far this season and his winning percentage of 18.6 per cent.

The only other jockey on the Sydney metro premiership table with a winning percentage over 18 per cent is McDonald's great mate and fellow Kiwi Opie Bosson.


But his strike rate comes from just 27 rides in Sydney whereas McDonald's is from 457 rides.

Although his lead would suggest McDonald has his premiership defence sewn up, he isn't getting carried away yet.

"We still have over two months to go and Nash is a very good rider," says McDonald.

"Obviously we ride only twice a week here now so it is a handy lead but I'm not finished yet."

What will aid McDonald is he rides in Sydney for the remainder of the season whereas in a non-Covid world he would have been off to Royal Ascot in England soon which may have gifted a potential premiership win to Rawiller.

So who does the superstar jockey favour as his best in the Randwick mud today?

"I think my best two rides are in the races four [New Arrangement] and race five [Southern Lad].

"They should both handle the heavy track and I think they are ready to win."

● New Zealand's return to horse racing post-lockdown looks set to come forward by a day with Addington harness now likely to race next Thursday and Friday after huge numbers at recent trials.