PJ McDonald to get back in swing at Newcastle after injury

Wed 17 Oct 2018

PJ McDonald is chomping at the bit to return to action at Newcastle on Wednesday, with his ride on Laurens at Ascot on Champions Day looming.

Having partnered the John Dance-owned filly to Group One victories in the Prix Saint Alary and the Prix de Diane in France earlier in the season, McDonald has been a frustrated observer for the past month.

On the night he rode his 100th winner of a successful season at Newcastle, McDonald was unseated from his mount Westward Ho, fracturing his left ankle and his right heel.

During his time on the sidelines, Danny Tudhope replaced McDonald on Karl Burke’s star to win the Matron Stakes in Ireland and the Sun Chariot at Newmarket.

McDonald returns to the scene of the unfortunate incident for three rides.

“It was brilliant to have a target to get back for, but it was a very frustrating spell,” said North Yorkshire-based McDonald.

“I missed three Group One winners  (Havana Grey in the Flying Five, as well as Laurens) while I was off.

“It’s been a hard pill to swallow, but there are people far more worse off than me, so the main thing was to get back fit. At least when you are riding you are doing something – but when you are just sat at home you’ve got a lot of time to think.

“I was lucky that after two and a half weeks I’ve was able to get into Jack Berry House every day, and that spurred me on.”

Laurens needed to be supplemented for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at a cost to Dance of £70,000 – she already held an entry in the Champion Stakes, but her team are adamant a mile is her best trip.

“I rode Laurens on Sunday morning, and she’s absolutely bouncing – she seems fresh and well,” said McDonald.

“She’s thriving at the minute. She’s got a great constitution, she takes her racing very well – and you’ve always got a chance with horses like that.

Among his comeback rides is a two-year-old debutant by Kingman named High Contrast, for the Burke and Dance combination.

Things were going from strength to strength for me before the injury, I rode my 100th winner on the night it happened PJ McDonald

“Hopefully I might have a comeback winner. John has a newcomer by Kingman running that I sat on last week, just a routine bit of work, but he seemed good,” added the former Scottish Grand National-winning rider.

“I’d imagine he’ll improve for the run, like a lot of Karl’s do, but I’m looking forward to getting back into the swing of it.

“Things were going from strength to strength for me before the injury – I rode my 100th winner on the night it happened. I’d had two Group One winners, other Group winners – a real good run at it.

“I was riding for any number of different trainers, lots for Mark Johnston, so I’m just looking forward to getting back into the position I was in before I got hurt.”

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