Feature Story

J-Mac the star again as Jolie justifies rider’s belief

J-Mac the star again as Jolie justifies rider’s belief Nov 18, 2023

By Sam Turner - 

The sparkling Group 1 winning run of James McDonald continued unabated at Caulfield on Saturday when the New Zealand jockey steered Joliestar to an impressive Schweppes Thousand Guineas success.

The Kiwi rider’s association with countryman Chris Waller has seen the in-form pairing successful at elite level on each of the last three Saturdays, with the duo also enjoying victories in the Victoria Derby with Riff Rocket and the VRC Champions Stakes with Atishu, both during Melbourne Cup Week at Flemington.

McDonald also landed the Cox Plate on Romantic Warrior to instigate a magnificent month in the saddle and his pre-race confidence in the Waller-trained Joliestar was certainly justified as the daughter of Zoustar tracked the speed before opening up nicely in the straight to hit the line a length-and-a-half clear of the Craig Williams-ridden Kimochi. Skybird, with Beau Mertens aboard, was a further length adrift in third.

McDonald said Joliestar drawing barrier one was pivotal to their win as the track had been playing to on-pacers.

“She's had a feeling about her that her whole preparation that she has kept improving and improving but she hasn't been winning,” said McDonald.

“She hasn't had a lot of luck, so I thought today from barrier one she was going to get every chance.

“I wish the Melbourne Cup was that easy."

For his part, Waller played down his involvement in the victory, preferring to heap praise on a filly who was having just her fifth career start.

"For a three-year-old filly it's a pretty long-range plan. She's still only starting her career, but we did identify that she had ability right from the start," he said.

"She's done it herself. I've found the races, she's turned up," 

Magic provides a timely boost for Begg

It has been a trying period for Grahame Begg, trainer of Magic Time, who saw stable star Lunar Flare not only ruled out from the Melbourne Cup for a second year in a row, but also retired.

However, there was a measure of compensation in the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes when the daughter of Hellbent justified favouritism to lift the prestigious 1400m handicap by a length in the hands of Michael Dee.

Dee and his partner rounded the home turn six wide, but she displayed an explosive change of gear to beat the Ciaron Maher & David Eustace-trained I Am Me (Blake Shinn), while Strait Acer (Edward Cummings/Mark Zahra) was a further neck back in third.