Consistent sprinter Second Effort is a strong chance in the PB Lawrence Stakes. Photo: Damian White
When your great grandfather and grandfather (Fred and Bon Hoysted) were two of Australia's most famous trainers and your dad (Ross McDonald) has sent out the winners of several of Australia's best known races, then there is a fair chance you, too, will end up as a horse trainer.
For Clinton McDonald, the 38-year-old Caulfield handler who will be looking to topple Melbourne Cup favourite Puissance De Lune with his consistent sprinter Second Effort in the PB Lawrence Stakes at the track on Saturday, there was never likely to be any other line of work.
Although too tall to be a jockey, the young McDonald (son of trainer Ross and his wife Margaret, who is the daughter of Bon Hoysted) has been on and around horses all his life.
He has worked not just for his father but such trainers as Lee Freedman and Fred Kersley, the West Australian horseman who prepared the champion Northerly, in a career that was clearly pre-ordained.
He is still closely involved with his father's stable, but having set up on his own more than a decade ago, McDonald junior has shown himself to be a shrewd judge and always seems to pop up with a handy horse or two.
Saturday's Caulfield meeting will hold particular significance for him. Not only will Second Effort be a strong chance in the race, but the horse that put him on the map, Regal Roller, is being commemorated with a listed race run in his name.
The latter gave the younger McDonald his first group1 winner when he took out the Dubai Racing Club Cup in 2004 at his home track and will always hold a special place in the trainer's memory.
''He was a tremendous horse for me as he gave me the confidence to know that I could train a good horse to win at that level,'' he said.
''He won three group1 races, and his success helped showcase me and show people that I could prepare a good horse, get it fit, set it for those sort of races and plan its program.
''It was also great because the people who owned him, Brian and Joan Durran, have always had horses with the family, with Bon, dad and myself.''
Regal Roller got better with age, and while Second Effort is older than his predecessor was when he hit top form (he is seven), the son of Mossman still seems to be improving: in the past few months he has won a second Wangoom Handicap at Warrnambool and also the Bletchingly Stakes at Caulfield last month.
If there are any chinks in Cup favourite Puissance De Lune's armour - and Darren Weir's grey must surely be vulnerable first time out in a preparation that is being timed to climax on the first Tuesday in November - a rock-hard, fit and seasoned campaigner like Second Effort is perfectly placed to take advantage.
McDonald is hoping the gelding can progress to group1 company in the Memsie Stakes at the end of the month, and has not ruled out a tilt at the group1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes at Caulfield at the end of September if the ground is rain affected.
■Moonee Valley executives will be keeping a close eye on proceedings half a world away in the early hours of Sunday morning as a handful of horses nominated - or invited - to the Cox Plate will be in action in the Arlington Million at Chicago.
The best known is Pearl Bloodstock's Side Glance, who boasts a third-place finish to wonder horse Frankel - albeit at a very respectable distance - on his CV.
Mull of Killough and Guest of Honour are other European challengers for the grade1 contest who are in the Cox Plate mix. The Australian-owned Dandino also runs on the same card in the American St Leger.