Superstar to ride at Hawkesbury Cup meeting

james_mcdonald_4c612d3435Eighteen-year-old whiz kid apprentice jockey from New Zealand James McDonald has accepted an invitation from the Hawkesbury Race Club to ride at their Panther’s Hawkesbury Gold Cup meeting on November 4.

Back in 2000, the Hawkesbury Race Club enticed Michael Walker, a champion New Zealand apprentice at the time, to ride at the 2000 Panthers Hawkesbury Gold Cup meeting and Walker duly won the cup on the Grahame Rogerson-trained galloper Hugh Demand.

 In his first year as an apprentice at the age of 15, McDonald rode 90 winners including a Group I aboard Special Mission in the Te Aroha Breeders Stakes just after he turned 16.

The 90 wins he amassed in his first season as an apprentice is a New Zealand record for a first season rider.

In his second season he won the NZ Jockey’s Premiership with 125 wins including 12 black type successes.

McDonald was also named NZ’s Champion Jockey at the Mercedes Awards function.

He won the Group I NZ Oaks at Trentham on the Jeff McVean trained Jungle Rocket.

Last season McDonald had the premiership at his mercy but decided to take up an offer to ride in Ireland for the last few months of the season when 35 wins clear and was overtaken by Opie Bosson in the last month. McDonald rode 151 winners last season.

As at October 10 this season James has already racked up a Group I success with Keep The Peace and has ridden 26 winners.

All up McDonald has ridden 392 winners in New Zealand, including three Group I wins and has won the NZ Apprentice Premiership in all three seasons he has been riding.