McDonald lives boyhood dream in Cup

2 November 2021 Written by Carl Di Iorio

James McDonald rode in his first Melbourne Cup nine years ago when his mount Fiorente was having his first Australian start as a $31 chance and finished a length behind Green Moon.

Over the line, McDonald linked hands with winning rider Brett Prebble as the pair carried wide smiles.

McDonald had long admired Prebble after meeting him as a 10-year-old when Prebble visited the stables of McDonald's father, Brett.

Fiorente had his turn, winning the Melbourne Cup a year later, but Damien Oliver was aboard, before McDonald finally turned the tables on Prebble and won his first Cup when the two reversed their finishing order on Tuesday, with their mutual admiration remaining the same.

Prebble waited outside the weighing room for McDonald to clear his long list of television commitments before warmly embracing the latest jockey to win a ;Lexus Melbourne Cup.

"It means everything," McDonald said. "It's the one race I've dreamed of riding in and of winning.

"Prebble was my childhood hero and my idol, I loved Brett Prebble.

"Bossy (fellow jockey Glen Boss) was so supportive, we play a bit of golf. They are two guys that have been there and know what it's like."

Given the dearth of overseas-trained horses in the 2021 Melbourne Cup, it seemed entirely appropriate the race would be remembered for the reigning Australian Horse of the Year winning Australia's greatest race, and her 10th Group 1, by a whopping fourth lengths.

"That's how you want to win a Lexus Melbourne Cup," McDonald said.

"I couldn't believe the position I got first time out of the straight, she was so relaxed and she never touched the bridle until I gave her a kick at the 600-metre mark and she sucked up.

"I could see the favourite (Incentivise) getting shoved along but I had seen that in the Caulfield Cup as well. When I went past him, I just wanted that post to come up.

"To pilot horses like Verry Elleegant each and every carnival is just a huge privilege and it worked out really well for us today.

"It doesn't always happen like that and you take the good with the bad but today we were lucky enough to win a Lexus Melbourne Cup."

McDonald's Lexus Melbourne Cup victory continues his stellar form since arriving for the Melbourne Spring Carnival.

He rode two winners on Cox Plate Day after overcoming the disappointment of the race-morning scratching of hot Cox Plate favourite Zaaki, and then became just the second rider in history to win four races on Victoria Derby Day.

It was midway through Victoria Derby Day that McDonald realised he was booked to ride Verry Elleegant, after media notified the champion New Zealand-born jockey in between riding commitments.

Days earlier McDonald's original Cup mount, Away He Goes, sustained a tendon injury while Damian Lane had been expected to ride Verry Elleegant but instead McDonald gained the mount.

"It's been a fairytale really, some things are meant to be," McDonald said.