James McDonald has given Japanese visitor Danon Premium the seal of approval after riding him in a gallop ahead of his Group One assignment in Sydney.
Danon Premium is the third northern hemisphere horse to make it to Sydney for the carnival with English-trained Young Rascal and Addeybb already winners at Rosehill.
Addeybb, winner of the Group One Ranvet Stakes on March 28 will join Danon Premium in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes on Saturday week.
Two other Japanese horses – Mozu Ascot and My Style – were kept at home because of the coronavirus pandemic protocols surrounding the handlers travelling with them.
McDonald is familiar with the Queen Elizabeth opposition having ridden Verry Elleegant to run second in the Ranvet before steering her to win the Group One Tancred Stakes.
With Damian Lane bunkered down in quarantine in Japan where he will begin a riding contract later this month, McDonald received the call to ride Danon Premium before he was aware Verry Elleegant would also head to the Queen Elizabeth.
The jockey went to Canterbury on Thursday to meet the team and gave Danon Premium a 1200m-work-out.
“He felt terrific,” McDonald said.
“He is obviously a horse that oozes a lot of class.”
“He has a lot of presence about him. He feels enormous the way he goes through his paces.
“He is a very balanced horse and very push button the way he executes his gallops. I couldn’t be more pleased with the way he felt today.
“It was one of the better pieces of work I have felt for a while.”
William Haggas’ assistant trainer Harry Eustace was equally pleased with Addeybb and Young Rascal, winner of the Group Three Manion Cup on the same day his stablemate won the Ranvet.
Young Rascal is headed to the Sydney Cup and Eustace says their mental wellbeing is now paramount.
“Fitness is not an issue,” he said.
“It’s more to see that mentally they have stepped up.
“I’m delighted with how they have come out of their races and continued to thrive.”
Eustace said with Australia one of the few jurisdictions still racing, the pair’s wins had given the Haggas yard at home a boost.
“It provides a bit of a lift for Newmarket in general,” he said.
“It gives them something to watch and hopefully can both run big races for English racing.
Both will be ridden in Saturday week by Tom Marquand who has made a big impression in Sydney.
Marquand spent several weeks riding over the summer and returned when Haggas committed to bringing the horses to Australia.