Australian sprinter Winter Bride takes on the kiwis in the Group One Railway at Ellerslie.
Having already bagged a Group One win at the Ellerslie carnival, James McDonald is looking for another aboard Australian sprinter Winter Bride in the Railway.
The premier Sydney jockey returned home to New Zealand for Christmas and rode True Enough to win the Zabeel Classic on Thursday.
Winter Bride is trained on the Gold Coast by Toby and Trent Edmonds and McDonald had his first riding experience on the mare in a work-out on Boxing Day ahead of Wednesday’s feature.
“She felt terrific,” McDonald told NZ Racing Desk. “She worked over 800 metres and it was pretty slick work. And most of all, she pulled up really well.
“It was the first time I’d sat on her and she’s your typical big Australian sprinter, very strong.”
McDonald has ridden against Winter Bride on five occasions and been beaten by her three times.
McDonald’s most recent clash with Winter Bride came in the Group One Moir Stakes (1000m), which he won on Nature Strip at Moonee Valley in September.
Although Winter Bride beat just two home in that race, McDonald has taken some encouragement from the mare’s effort.
“She was only four lengths off Nature Strip so her form is better than it looks,” he said.
“If she is not in the first three in the Railway I’ll be very surprised and disappointed.
“I’d have preferred a better gate (11) with her, but she jumps extra quick so I can race her wherever.”
The winner of nine of her 24 starts, including three at Group three level, Winter Bride has also been Group Two placed three times.
Six of her wins have been over the 1200m of the Railway.
McDonald would love to record a Group One win for Winter Bride’s owner, Kevin Maloney, the owner of Segenhoe Stud.
“When I first went to Sydney to ride for John O’Shea, Kevin had horses with John and I rode plenty of them,” McDonald said.
“Actually it was Bill Mitchell, Kevin’s racing manager (and a former leading Sydney trainer), who asked me to ride Winter Bride.”
McDonald has several other stakes rides on Wednesday including Lilikoi for long-time supporter Sir Peter Vela in the Group Two Valachi Downs (2000m).
“She is jumping from a good barrier (3) and I’d love to win another good race for Sir Peter,” McDonald said.