Century up for James McDonald

James McDonald
James McDonald returns victorious aboard Strawb at Warwick Farm on Wednesday, his 100th metropolitan Sydney win of the season. Photo: Bradleyphotos.com.au

Champion jockey James McDonald became only the third jockey in history to ride at least 100 metropolitan Sydney winners in three successive seasons when riding a winning double at Warwick Farm on Wednesday.

The Kiwi expat joins Larry Cassidy and Darren Beadman in achieving the feat after partnering The Move to victory for Tony Gollan to hit 99 before the Nathan Doyle-trained mare Strawb helped him notch the century.

McDonald rode 104 winners to claim the Sydney premiership in 2018-19 and then backed that up with 103.5 wins to retain his title last season.

The star jockey will be inducted into the New Zealand Racing Hall of Fame on Sunday, becoming the youngest person to be inducted at 29.

McDonald will be back in his homeland for the inductee dinner at SkyCity in Hamilton where he will join 16 other jockeys to have claimed their place in more than a century of New Zealand racing history.

From the time he first donned silks as a baby-faced 15-year-old, McDonald has been a headline-maker. Apprentice championships came first, followed by a New Zealand premiership record of 207 wins in just his fourth season of riding in 2010-11.

Drawn to Australia the following year, McDonald won his first Sydney premiership in 2013-14 and again in 2015-16.

Breaking the rules with a winning bet on his own mount in late 2015, McDonald had to face the music and endured an 18-month stand-down but returned more focused than ever.

Recently McDonald became the fastest jockey to reach 50 career Group One wins, when landing the Group 1 Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) on Anamoe and quickly made it 51 when successful in the Group 1 TJ Smith (1200m) on Nature Strip.

He has since won last Saturday’s Group 1 Champagne Stakes (1600m) on Captivant to take his tally to 52.

He has claimed four Sydney jockeys’ premierships and has a handy break on his nearest rivals Tommy Berry (82) and Rachel King (53) as he strives for a fifth premiership.

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