McDonald Gem Guides Harpo Marx To Victory
Promising stayer Harpo Marx raced his way into spring carnival contention courtesy of a classic James McDonald ride at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
McDonald, mindful Harpo Marx was burdened with a crushing 62.5kg, rode patiently at the back of the field, saved ground when he cut the corner on the final turn, eased around the leaders and finished strongly to win the Cliff Clare Handicap (2400m).
But any thought that McDonald’s tactics were premeditated were dismissed by the jockey after the race.
“I didn’t have a plan on how to ride the horse, to be honest,’’ McDonald said.
“I sort of just went with the flow and when they sprinted coming to the turn, the field started to fan so that’s when I decided then to stay inside runners rather than try and go around them with his big weight.
“He’s a strong stayer and finished the race off very well. When he goes up in grade, he will come down in weight and that will help him.’’
Harpo Marx ($2.50 favourite) wore down his rivals to score an impressive win by a half-length from Master Shuhood ($19) with Terwilliker ($5) about a length away third.
Trainer Bjorn Baker lauded the genius of McDonald before revealing his ambitious play for Harpo Marx.
“It was an outstanding ride, especially when you have 62.5kg,’’ Baker said.
“You don’t want to be covering any extra ground or doing any more work than you have to in the run.
“It was a great ride and that’s why James is one of the best.’’
A superbly-bred Irish import by champion sire Galileo out of former Group 1 winner Nechita, Harpo Marx has now won six of his 23 starts and Baker said the gelding is destined for stakes races.
“Harpo Marx has been a really good horse for (owners) Darby Racing and myself,’’ Baker said.
“He has gone through his grades now and we will have to look at something better.’’
Baker said he will set Harpo Marx for the Listed $200,000 Wyong Gold Cup (2100m) at Wyong on September 3.
“I will give him a month between runs and it will be perfect for him going into the Wyong Cup,’’ Baker said.
“He’s still relatively untapped, he hasn’t hand too many runs and although you never quite know if they will take that next step to stakes grade I think this horse can.
“You can’t fault a performance like that when carrying big weight in what was a sprint home. It was a great effort to win.’’