Taghmon's McDonald riding high
Pat McDonald, son of Pat and Mary from Monastery Avenue, Taghmon, has been based for many years in Britain and he continued his great season on the flat last week with successive doubles on Monday and Tuesday, leaving him well up in the top ten of the British jockeys' championship.
The riders' championship in Britain can be a bit confusing with different dates applying to the flat and over the jumps. While the jumps season goes for a full year from April to April, the official flat table applies from Saturday, May 6, to Saturday, October 21, including turf and all-weather races.
McDonald has been working very hard this season, doing lots of travelling and taking in two meetings on many days. It is paying off and he stands at sixth in the table with 52 wins from 337 rides, for total prize money just in excess of half a million pounds.
Silvestre De Sousa is a runaway leader with 108 winners, with Jim Crowley second on 68, but after that it is very tight with just a handful of winners separating the next ten places. Here's hoping the Taghmon man can keep up the momentum and remain free of injury and suspension and perhaps surpass his previous seasonal best tally of 76 winners.
He began his career in Britain over ten years ago as a jumps jockey and he only switched codes after winning the Scottish Grand National on Hot Weld in 2007 for fellow Wexfordman, Ferdy Murphy, who now operates in France.
Pat lives in Leyburn in North Yorkshire and does most of his riding on the northern circuit. He is a Liverpool soccer supporter. Now aged 35, he is married to Abby and they have two children.
He had five winners in the first three days of the week - a double at Ripon on Monday with Ebitda (7/1) and Komodo (11/8f) for Jed O'Keeffe; another double from just three rides at Catterick on Tuesday with Shovel It On (5/1) for Pat Evans and Peach Melba (13/8f) for Mark Johnston, and he scored with Beatbox Rhythm (10/11f) for Karl Burke at Pontefract on Wednesday.
His luck ran out a bit on Thursday at Newcastle when short-headed on New Society (9/4) by 20/1 shot, Chant, ridden by Shane Gray.
At the same meeting, Josh Quinn, son of New Ross-born jockey, Jimmy, pulled off a 40/1 shocker on Bigbadboy in the apprentice handicap.
Veteran Ferns jockey Jimmy Fortune has been out of action since May 19 because of problems with his back which seem to be proving difficult to resolve. His return to the saddle has been predicted a couple of times but he is still sidelined. Here's hoping he is soon back in action.