Senior riding ranks in the north will be bolstered with the impending return of Group 1-winning jockey Michael McNab next month.
McNab, who guided Melody Belle to success in the Group 1 Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) at Awapuni last year, has been riding in Queensland since June.
While he was sitting inside the top 20 on the Brisbane metropolitan jockeys’ premiership, McNab has decided to return to New Zealand for “family reasons” and has slated the Counties meeting on December 5 for his first raceday back in New Zealand.
“I’ve found Brisbane really good and while it hasn’t been a raging success, I feel my riding has improved going up against Ryan Maloney, Jeff Lloyd, Jimmy Orman and Jim Byrne, to name but a few,” McNab said.
“I have a goal to win another Group 1 race back home. Hopefully I can establish myself again and I’d love to chase a premiership, maybe next season. I’m absolutely fizzing to get back riding at home and can’t wait to catch-up with my good mates in the jockeys’ room.”
Despite not finishing last season in New Zealand, McNab rode a career-best 51 winners, seven of those at stakes level.
Among the highlights were Magic Chai’s Group 2 Wellington Cup (3200m) win at Trentham, Savvy Coup’s Group 3 Eulogy Stakes (1600m) success at Awapuni and Melt’s Group 3 Eclipse Stakes (1200m) at Ellerslie.
Exuberant thriving Exuberant, a debut winner of the Listed Wellesley Stakes (1000m) at Trentham last month, is back in work with Cambridge trainer Stephen Marsh.
“He’s been back a week and wil go straight to the Eclipse Stakes (1200m) at Ellerslie,” Marsh said.
“He’ll have a jumpout and maybe an exhibition gal op between races before then, depending on what he needs.
“He’s looking very good and his big aim is the Karaka Million.”
Marsh is also pleased with Appellant, a Showcasing filly who finished third to Exuberant and is also on track for the Group 3 Barneswood Farm Eclipse Stakes (1200m) on New Year’s Day.
“She went a top race in the Wellesley after being three-wide,” Marsh said.
“She’ll run at Te Rapa on December 15 then go to the Eclipse Stakes.”
Ole Ole to Hong Kong
Talented three-year-old Ole Ole has been sold and will do his future racing in Hong Kong.
The son of Makfi is the winner of two races with a further three placings from just seven starts.
The Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained gelding has been placed at stakes level on two occasions and will join the stable of Manfred Man.