Apprentice jockey Georgina McDonnell will be aiming to add a feature race victory to her resume on Sunday when jumping aboard Fortnite in the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service Moree Town Plate.
The pressure will be on too, with the Mark Stewart trained five-year-old crunched into $1.75 odds-on favourite after opening up at $2.50 to win the 950m Open Class sprint.
McDonnell has ridden Fortnite to two victories this preparation, which includes a strong 950m Class Three Handicap win at Moree in July before a last start 1000m Benchmark 58 Handicap win at Tamworth and the hoop believes her mount deserves to be favourite.
“I’ve ridden him quite a few times for a lot of success. We have got two wins and two or three seconds together,” McDonnell said.
“I know the horse quite well and I think Mark has placed him perfectly in this race. He is proven at Moree over 950m, he is suited to the race, and he has a good barrier.”
The $32,000 event over the jump and run journey will be a step up in class for the Inverell galloper, and McDonnell was adamant the War gelding that is out of Belisarda, would handle the challenge, especially when only carrying 53kg after her two-kilogram claim.
“Yes, he is up in grade but significantly down in weight,” McDonnell said.
“Tomorrow he is going to only have 53kg and when he won the other day, he had 61.5kgs.”
Being on the short-price favourite wasn’t worrying McDonnell either, who was just excited to be on a good chance in a feature race.
“Being on the $1.90 favourite, I feel like there is more pressure, but at the end of the day, they are horses – anything can happen,” McDonnell said.
“In saying that, I think the horse is placed well and I’ve done it quite tough at times. I’ve been winning on roughies, and I never tend to get on many favourites, so it is nice to be on a good chance.”
It shapes to be a big week for McDonnell, who only recently changed stables.
The apprentice hoop was previously under the tutelage of Allan Kehoe but has since made the move to Glenn Milligan’s yard and hopes to continue a good run of form in the saddle.
“I just moved to Taree. I was at Port Macquarie but my old boss Allan Kehoe moved to Wyong, and I did a straight swap to Glenn’s,” McDonnell said.
“I have been there a week and he is actually really good and it’s not too different. It’s still the Mid North coast, so it is still the same area and same jockeys.”
Racing fans can follow McDonnell this week, with a big three days taking her to Grafton on Saturday, Moree on Sunday and Port Macquarie on Monday.
Punters can also get the full Moree Cup and Town Plate fields by clicking here.