- James McDonald will ride Cox Plate favourite Romantic Warrior
- Kiwi hoop won Group 2 Gold Cup at Mooney Valley on Friday
- Saturday will see 102nd staging of Cox Plate at 5.10pm AEDT
- Get the latest odds on the 2023 Cox Plate
Champion jockey James McDonald is gunning for more silverware in the WS Cox Plate on Saturday after he won the $750,000 Group 2 Moonee Valley Gold Cup in emphatic fashion.
The Kiwi hoop rode Cleveland to victory under lights on Friday and now has a Group 1 triumph in his sights on board pre-race favourite Romantic Warrior.
McDonald believes he will be in the $5million feature up to his eyeballs after he labelled Romantic Warrior a ‘superstar’ in April.
It followed an emphatic performance in the QEII Cup over 2000 metres at Sha Tin.
Racing experts have also observed a bond between McDonald and the brilliant gelding.
Champion jockey James McDonald is eyeing off Group 1 success with Cox Plate favourite Romantic Warrior
Romantic Warrior is the bookies choice following three Group 1 wins in his career over 2000m
McDonald also rode Cleveland to victory in the Group 2 Mooney Valley Gold Cup on Friday night
Romantic Warrior was spotted ignoring his surroundings at Mooney Valley earlier this week, waiting for McDonald to arrive at his stall where the horse planted a big kiss on the star jockey’s face.
And McDonald gave him one straight back as the pair enjoyed an affectionate moment before starting trackwork.
‘I do love him. He’s such a very kind horse that just wants to please you all the time,’ McDonald said.
‘He’s such an intelligent horse, wants to know everything.’
As of Saturday morning, Romantic Warrior was the $3.80 Cox Plate favourite, with Alligator Blood ($6) and Mr Brightside ($7) also among the leading contenders.
Bet Right CEO Anthony Waller couldn’t split the Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott trained Alligator Blood and New Zealand entrant Mr Brightside, to be ridden by the vastly experienced Craig Williams.
‘Between them, they have amassed career prizemoney approaching $20million,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
‘Both have delivered an amazing ride for respective connections and fans, and I think they will be the two who fight out this heavyweight title fight.’
The Cox Plate will be staged at 5.10pm AEDT.