James McDonald has continued a golden run, landing his second Group One in the space of a week in the Queensland Derby aboard Kukeracha, however he admits if he had the choice he would have been riding the runner-up instead.
After winning the Doomben Cup by seven lengths with Zaaki last week, McDonald was forced to work harder this time around, holding out Hugh Bowman who delivered a perfect ride aboard Senor Toba to land a Chris Waller-trained one-two.
With six runners in the race, McDonald revealed Waller was left to do jockey bookings – and it may have been for the better.
“I would have picked Senor Toba, they say jockeys are the worst decision-makers so I am glad I didn’t have the choice,” McDonald laughed.
“I have no say, Chris makes the decisions and I was lucky enough to get on this one.
“It was too close for comfort, I was asking the people who live down the back (of the track) who got it and they were no help.”
The win delivered a homegrown Group One for Queensland owner Neville Morgan, who has tasted success with the likes of Kolding and Shaquero.
An Emotional Waller paid tribute to Morgan, who has been one of his biggest supporters.
“I am very lucky, He is a proud Queenslander along with all his friends here so it is very special,” he said.
“The team up here have done a great job with this horse and Senor Toba. He sort of lost his way a bit as a two-year-old, he was gelded and then taken through to the system.
“I thought he ran a great race in the Grand Prix in the summer and it gave him some experience on the track, which is important.”
After question marks over Kukeracha’s ability to see out the 2400m Derby trip, McDonald paid tribute to Queensland jockey Luke Dittman who has been riding the three-year-old in work during the week.
“I am wrapped, Luke Dittman had been riding him in work and he said today he was cherry ripe, he has done a marvellous job with him getting him to settle – a great horseman,” he said.
“The tempo was lovely, I probably should have waited a little bit longer at the top of the straight. He is a good horse and he deserved that.”
Three-time Derby winner Explosive Jack could only manage third after getting strung up on the rail in the back end of the field.
“In his last couple of runs he has been getting to the outside and had the runs that the first and second horses today did,” trainer Ciaron Maher said.
“It was a bit stop start in the straight today and he had to change course a few times and that was probably the difference.
“And he probably does like to get his toe in a little bit more than this. But in saying that he ran a really strong race again.”
Waller’s Achiever ran on for fourth under Nash Rawiller.This text 29 TEMMUZ 2021 It was written on.
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