Young hoop closes in on riding idol
And the winner is ... Green Moon gets the last laugh after his 2012 Melbourne Cup victory. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
WHEN boom New Zealand hoop James McDonald reached out to shake hands with Brett Prebble after the line in the Melbourne Cup it was gesture a decade in the making.
The Hong Kong-based Prebble had waltzed back into Australia and added a Melbourne Cup on Green Moon to the Golden Slipper he won on Crystal Lily two years ago.
McDonald, who rode runner-up Fiorente, formed a special bond when his then idol Prebble visited his father Brett McDonald's stables. Prebble gave a 10-year-old McDonald one of his whips. ''It was a Sunline whip and I was tickled pink to get it,'' McDonald said last night.
''I remember the photo. I just came up to his elbow, whereas these days I tower above him. That must have been 10 years ago and who would have thought that 10 years later we'd be finishing first and second in a Melbourne Cup.''
It was great ride from McDonald and earned praise from Gai Waterhouse.
''He just got [Fiorente] to relax so well and gave him every chance,'' she said. ''He got him off the fence at the right and was moving forward at 800 metres when he had to.''
However, McDonald was later suspended for careless riding at the 800-metre mark when he shaved Sanagas as he began to make his run.
McDonald was given a 14-meeting suspension, which he will appeal.
The slowly run Cup also resulted in suspensions for Ethiopia rider Rhys McLeod (12 meetings) and Luke Nolen, who rode Lights Of Heaven (12 meetings).