New Zealand racing's most famous son James McDonald will have divided loyalties at Randwick's mega meeting tomorrow.
Although he will be trying to help some Kiwi connections win races such as the blockbuster Queen Elizabeth and the ATC Oaks, he won't jump on a New Zealand-trained galloper until Entriviere makes her Australian debut in the last race of The Championships in Sydney.
McDonald, who rode two Group 1 winners at Randwick last Saturday, admits some of the other Kiwi horses could have the wood on his local mounts.
"Some of these races look almost perfect for the Kiwi horses," says McDonald.
"Take Probabeel [R9, No 1], she is a top class mare at weight-for-age against horses she is mainly just better than," says McDonald.
"On a good track, which it should be, she should just about be a good thing.
"I am riding a top mare in Colette against her but unless the track gets a lot more rain it is going to be very hard for her to beat Probabeel."
McDonald will ride the Waikato Stud-owned Bargain in the A$1 million Oaks against Matamata filly Amarelinha, but is a big fan of the Jamie Richards-trained filly.
"It is always hard to tell until you see them come over and do it but Amarelinha looks pretty good," offers McDonald.
"I think she should run at least top three and she could even win it but I do think Harmony Rose will be hard to beat because she could be in front of the other favourites at the top of the straight and she is a very strong filly."
McDonald continues his wonderful association with exceptional mare Verry Elleegant in the showcase race of The Championships, the A$4 million Queen Elizabeth.
The 2000m weight-for-age cracker is being billed as a match race between the New Zealand-bred and part-owned mare and defending champion Addeybb, with a high-class support cast.
Addeybb was too good in this race last year courtesy of a wet track but while Randwick was listed as a slow5 yesterday, McDonald thinks it will be close to perfect for most horses and that may favour Verry Elleegant more than the English visitor.
"It could be very tactical as he [Addeybb] will be right on the speed and my first job if to get my mare away well and stay close enough because she can be a bit funny early.
"Then it will be up to her but she is flying."
McDonald likes his book of rides and suggests Pandano (R3, No 1), Najmaty (R4, No 2) and Wild Ruler (R6, No 1) all have good chances, albeit the latter in a tricky race against flying filly September Run.
"The trainers are also very happy with Southern France in the Cup, even though he hasn't run up to his European form in Australia yet."
It will be the last race of the carnival before McDonald gets to jump on a New Zealand-trained horse and he says punters shouldn't be put off by Entriviere's outside draw in the A$300,000 Sapphire Stakes.
"It is never easy from the outside but from what I have seen of her she can be average out of the gates and that being the case she is better off out wide than getting cluttered up," explains McDonald.
"If she is going to potentially be back of midfield then being wider with cover is better than being back on the inside, especially later in the day at the end of the carnival when the track has had plenty of racing.
"So she can still win from out wide, even though it won't be easy."
The Sapphire Stakes also contains fellow New Zealand mare Bavella, who is far better drawn at barrier two and has the natural speed to use that, although she is rated a $34 chance compared with Entriviere's $4.60 quote in Australia.
Quick Thinker Out
The Kiwi assault on tomorrow's A$2 million Sydney Cup has been halved with Quick Thinker out of the race.
Last Saturday's Chairman's Handicap winner was two out of five lame in a foreleg yesterday and while it is not expected to be serious, co-trainer Andrew Forsman had no choice but to pull him out of the 3200m Group 1.
It is hoped Quick Thinker can recover in time to race at the Queensland carnival in May and June.
That leaves his Baker/Forsman stablemate The Chosen One as the only New Zealand-trained horse in the Cup and while he was outstanding in the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups in the spring he has to carry top weight and has the worst barrier.
"We couldn't be happier with him but it has become a very tricky race," says Forsman.