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McDonald the headline act on Goodwood opening day
27 Jul 2016

James McDonald has made a perfect start to his first Goodwood festival by winning the feature race on the opening day, the Gr. 2 Qatar Lennox Stakes for his retainers Godolphin.

McDonald has been in sensational form since hitting his straps on his third mid-year sojourn to the United Kingdom. His overnight win on the Charlie Hills-trained Dutch Connection took his tally to 17 wins from 77 race rides. Earlier major wins include the Gr. 2 Princess of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket on Big Orange, while he has failed to ride a winner on only one of the past 10 racedays he has competed.

Dutch Connection was one of six rides on the first day of Glorious Goodwood and as well as the win McDonald also rode three second placegetters.

“He’s an awesome horse, I can’t believe I’ve won a big race for Charlie Hills,” McDonald told the Racing Post after Dutch Connection had beaten fellow Godolphin runner Home Of The Brave. “He brought me over three years ago and had so much faith in me, I can’t thank him enough.”

Lambourn-based Hills was equally effusive about the 24-year-old Kiwi. “He’s a world-class jockey. We’re going to see a lot of him,” Hills said. “He’s very laid-back, has a good relationship with horses and is very positive.”

McDonald is booked for five rides on Goodwood’s second day, headed by Toormore, a 25-to-one prospect for the Gr. 1 Sussex Stakes, and Nayyar, who is listed at 8-1 for the Gr. 3 Molecomb Stakes.

The recent one-month suspension handed to Godolphin jockey William Buick meant an extension of McDonald’s northern stint. When speaking recently with he said that he planned to pack his bags for Australia in the first week of August and hopefully take time for a beach holiday in the south of France before linking up again with Godolphin’s Sydney trainer John O’Shea.

Dennis Ryan

The Informant