McDonald out for more success on Kennedy Oaks Day

3 November 2021 Written by VRC

Fresh from an emotional win in the Lexus Melbourne Cup on Tuesday, James McDonald will attempt to add a first Group 1 Kennedy Oaks (2500m) to his name when he partners Daisies in Thursday's $1 million feature.

The Mick Price and Michael Kent Jnr-prepared Daisies enters the fillies' classic off a second to Willowy in the Group 2 ZED RUN Wakeful Stakes (2000m) on Penfolds Victoria Derby Day, having won the Group 3 Ethereal Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield the start before. 

Willowy also lines up in the Kennedy Oaks, as does Wakeful Stakes third Douceur, while also contesting the Oaks will be Ethereal Stakes second Glint Of Hope, third Biscayne Bay, fourth Morrissette and fifth Tiz My Bay. They are joined by Kennedy Oaks Trial runner-up Blackcomb, Byerley Handicap winner Gonnadancealot and last-start Benalla maiden winner Fabiola.

Perhaps most intriguingly, the Anthony and Sam Freedman-trained Elusive Express will attempt the same feat achieved by Penfolds Victoria Derby (2500m) hero Hitotsu on Saturday, stepping up straight from the 1600m of the Group 1 Thousand Guineas to the 2500m of the Oaks without a run beyond a mile.

The TAB market has Elusive Express and Willowy as the $4.20 equal favourites ahead of Daisies at $4.80.

Whatever the result on Thursday, the 11 fillies lining up for the 160-year-old classic will have every opportunity to build on their reputations and return to Flemington in future years for races like the Lexus Melbourne Cup.

For instance, Lexus Melbourne Cup winner Verry Elleegant contested the Kennedy Oaks in 2018, finishing seventh as second favourite to Aristia after racing fiercely throughout. It was at her next start, her first for Chris Waller, that she would first be ridden by McDonald, a partnership that has yielded eight Group 1 wins - although none of the calibre of Tuesday's spectacular performance.

McDonald is also eyeing off the record for most wins during a single Melbourne Cup Carnival, with his six wins during the first two days getting him two-thirds of the way towards breaking Brett Prebble's record of nine.

In addition to Daisies, McDonald's rides on Kennedy Oaks Day include exciting unbeaten filly Espiona in the Listed Off The Track Desirable Stakes (1400m) and speedy mare Written Beauty in the Listed G.H. Mumm Century Stakes (1000m), while his Paramount+ Stakes Day book is headlined by Zaaki in the Group 1 Paramount+ Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) and The Everest winner Nature Strip in the Group 1 Darley Sprint Classic (1200m).

Image: James McDonald has had a magnificent Melbourne Cup Carnival (Credit: Racing Photos)