Jockey James McDonald and trainer Darren Weir capped off a Carnival to remember on Sunday morning when crowned the Premier Spring Jockey and Trainer of the 2015 Spring Racing Carnival Premierships.
The pair continued their Carnival dominance throughout yesterday’s 12th and final Premiership round at William Hill Park (Sandown), with McDonald again illustrating why he’s considered one of Australia’s most prodigious riding talents with a masterful victory aboard Who Shot Thebarman in the day’s feature – the $300,000 Zipping Classic (2400m).
Trainer Darren Weir also continued his rich vein of Spring Racing Carnival form with yet another feature win, this time with consistent colt Mahuta in the $250,000 Sandown Guineas (1600m) – his 16th victory of the Premierships period.
Now in its second year, the Spring Racing Carnival Premierships promote and celebrate excellence at the elite level and have rewarded the Carnival’s leading jockeys and trainers – along with their charity of choice – with more than $135,000 in charitable donations and prizemoney in 2015.
Points were awarded to the first three placegetters in each race across 12 premier racedays between September and November, with bonus points on offer in the state’s elite Group 1 races headlined by the Emirates Melbourne Cup, BMW Caulfield Cup and William Hill Cox Plate.
Whilst a $25,000 bonus proved an incentive for the standout performers in the Premier Spring Jockey and Trainer titles, the Spring Racing Carnival Premierships also afforded an opportunity for the Victorian racing industry to support those in need.
Darren Weir secured a $25,000 donation for his nominated charity partner, Down Syndrome Victoria, while McDonald earned a cheque for the same amount to children’s charity, Variety.
As the winner of the Premier Young Gun Jockey title for riders aged 26 and under on 31 December, 2015, McDonald also secured Variety a second donation of $5,000 – taking their donation total to $30,000.
McDonald, 23, said the lucrative Premiership rewards had provided an extra dimension to the rivalry between riders on feature racedays.
“It’s been an honour to represent Variety in the Spring Premierships and to win, well, that was an added bonus,” McDonald said.
“There certainly has been a lot of rivalry in the jockeys’ rooms this Carnival so I’m stoked to have finished on top.”
Premier Spring Trainer Darren Weir said it was a great thrill that his Premierships success was able to support a cause close to his heart.
“It’s a bit of a surprise,” Weir said.
“We were miles behind David Hayes and Tom Dabernig at one stage but the week we had a great week at Flemington helped greatly.
“To be able to win the Premierships and know that it is helping out a charity like Down Syndrome Victoria is a real thrill.”
The final premiership standings also mean Weir has won a friendly side-bet with Hayes, with the latter now required to muck out boxes at Weir’s stables for an hour.
“I made the bet but I know I’ve got a fit junior partner,” Hayes quipped.
Racing Victoria’s Executive General Manager – Racing, Greg Carpenter, congratulated this year’s Spring Racing Carnival Premiership winners and said the unique competition provided an enthralling narrative throughout spring.
“I’d like to congratulate James McDonald and Darren Weir on their Spring Racing Carnival Premierships success – a victory that reflects their outstanding efforts across Victoria’s premier racing period,” Carpenter said.
“It was terrific to see the Premierships so positively embraced by the jockeys and trainers competing on the big stage each week, and this provided an exciting sub-plot for racing fans to follow throughout the Spring Racing Carnival.
“The Premierships also give the Victorian racing industry an opportunity to support a number of extremely worthy charities and provide exposure to the fantastic work they are doing.
“James McDonald and Darren Weir have been outstanding ambassadors for their charities this Spring Racing Carnival and it was been enormously rewarding to see their hard work also benefit such worthwhile causes.”
The final standings in the Spring Racing Carnival Premierships classifications were as follows;
Premier Spring Trainer
1 Darren Weir (Down Syndrome Victoria) 83.5 points
2 David Hayes/Tom Dabernig (Aussie Helpers) 80
3 Chris Waller (Womens’ Cancer Foundation) 66
Premier Spring Jockey
1 James McDonald (Variety) 81.5 points
2 Craig Williams (Variety) 57
3 Dwayne Dunn (Womens’ Cancer Foundation) 55.5
Premier Young Gun Jockey
1 James McDonald (Variety) 81.5 points
2 Damian Lane (Foodbank Victoria) 20.5
3 Chris Parnham (Foodbank Victoria) 16