Paul Gallen with his Epsom contender Te Akau Shark. Picture: Tim Hunter
Paul Gallen with his Epsom contender Te Akau Shark. Picture: Tim Hunter

No fear: Wide barrier won’t hinder Shark

CHAMPION jockey James McDonald maintains a wide barrier is more a help than a hindrance for Te Akau Shark in the Group 1 $1 million TAB Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.

Te Akau Shark, the boom New Zealand who is part-owned by NRL legend Paul Gallen, is drawn to start out of barrier 15 in the big Randwick mile.

"I wasn't too concerned where he drew - I just didn't want an inside gate,'' McDonald said.

"Te Akau Shark prefers to get to the outside of them, he needs a bit of room.

 

NRL legend Paul Gallen is a part-owner of top Epsom hope Te Akau Shark. Picture: Tim Hunter
NRL legend Paul Gallen is a part-owner of top Epsom hope Te Akau Shark. Picture: Tim Hunter

 

"From the 1600m start at Randwick, the wide barrier is not the biggest issue in the world, anyway. We still need a bit of luck, obviously, but from out there he will get his chance.''

McDonald said there was a lot of merit in Te Akau Shark's Australian debut when he ran second, beaten three lengths by Epsom topweight Dreamforce in the Tramway Stakes a month ago.

"The track advantaged those on the rails that day, it gave nothing a hope unless you were first, second or third,'' McDonald said.

"I've ridden a couple of horses since out of that meeting and they have won. Anything that made ground out wide like Te Akau Shark did that day ran very well.

"I know Te Akau Shark was beaten three lengths by Dreamforce but we meet that horse 3kg better at the weights in the Epsom.''

McDonald also rides the shortest favourite on the Epsom program, top filly Funstar ($1.85) in another of the Group 1 races, the $500,000 Flight Stakes (1600m).

Funstar just held off a surging Probabeel to win the Tea Rose Stakes last start and the two star fillies are expecting to fight out the finish again in the Flight Stakes.

"I feel Funstar has improved since her last run but she will need to because Probabeel is a very good filly,'' McDonald said.

 

James McDonald is confident Funstar will handle the step up to 1600m in the Flight Stakes. Picture: AAP
James McDonald is confident Funstar will handle the step up to 1600m in the Flight Stakes. Picture: AAP

 

"We will be in front of Probabeel in the run and it is her job to get past me. If Funstar executes well, she is the one to beat.''

McDonald isn't quite as bullish about his chances on Wu Gok in the Group 1 $750,000 The Metropolitan (2400m).

Wu Gok is in career-best form winning four of his last five starts including the Premier's Cup and Wyong Cup as his most recent runs.

"I'd prefer a wet track for Wu Gok but he is racing and great form - he's a 'runner's' chance,'' McDonald said.



Evacuees told they can finally go home

premium_icon Evacuees told they can finally go home

For some people, it is safe to go home

Not about blame for fires, more about capacity building

Not about blame for fires, more about capacity building

These types of fires were what the community had dreaded