The outstanding ability and magical touch of champion rider James McDonald was to the fore once again during the Ellerslie Christmas Carnival as he guided home topweight Paisley Park to take out the twenty-first running of the Dunstan Feeds Stayers Championship Final (2400m).
McDonald, who was successful on two-year-old filly Play That Song at Group 2 level earlier in the day, summed up the situation in the race perfectly as he rolled forward on the Graham Richardson-trained five-year-old to sit outside the leader leaving the Ellerslie straight for the first time. Lake Superior set up a solid tempo with McDonald content to have Paisley Park within striking distance before asking for a serious effort to take the lead early in the run home.
Despite carrying 3.5kgs more than any other runner in the field, the Azamour gelding refused to shirk his task as he held out the fast-finishing Joe’s Legacy and Spring Delight to take the thick end of the winning stake. “I had a plan but he slipped coming out of the stalls although I still ended up into a nice enough spot,” McDonald said. “He travelled beautifully on a nice strong tempo throughout and he was the best stayer on the day. “He was primed and ready to run today.”
Richardson had more than one reason to celebrate the result as he was unaware of the special trainer’s bonus attached to the race whereby the winning trainer receives a $21,000 voucher courtesy of Dunstan Feeds to spend at the upcoming New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sale later this month. “I wasn’t aware (of the bonus) so I’m stunned, but it’s much appreciated,” he said. “I’m just stoked for my owners, my staff and the horse. “It was a gutsy effort as he carried 3.5kgs more than the second topweight.
“We decided to go here rather than if he ran in the first three in the City Of Auckland Cup (Group 3, 2400m) as he would have been hammered with weight in his next start. “He’s a good horse and it’s the second time James has won the race with my colours on (Green Supreme, 2012) so I’m chuffed.”
Bred by co-owner Garry Christini, who races him in partnership with David Trubshoe, Paisley Park has now won four of his 17 starts and over $127,000 in prizemoney. Brighthill Farm will offer a Dalghar half-sister to Paisley Park during the Book 3 session at the National Yearling Sale that kicks off at Karaka on January 25.