Crucial booking of McDonald for Albury galloper (Hawkesbury, Sat)

For Mitch Beer’s speedster Hardware Lane ($6.50 on TAB), the early booking of champion James McDonald and their mateship is only part of the appeal into a TAB Highway, $100,000 Class 2, 1100m flyer on a spectacular day at the annual stand-alone Hawkesbury meeting on Saturday.

Trainer : JAMES CUMMINGS and Jockey: JAMES MCDONALD after, CASCADIAN winning the Schweppes All Aged Stakes
Trainer : JAMES CUMMINGS and Jockey: JAMES MCDONALD after, CASCADIAN winning the Schweppes All Aged Stakes Picture: Martin King / Sportpix

Anything with reasonable form outside of the Waller stable that 'J-Mac' accepts invariably firms and three-year-old Hardware Lane's credentials are convincing, conceding experience and weight to older gallopers with 57kg.

Before the horse won an Albury maiden by six lengths in fast time, it's two-year-old season saw James Mcdonald booked to ride an Inglis Classic on Cox Plate Day at Moonee Valley, but it went amiss.

Hardware Lane resumed with a massive Albury win, was competitive at Caulfield and then led in a strong form race at Moonee Valley. And earlier narrowly beaten by eventual Country Championships contender Tap 'N' Run.

"I'm mates with James [McDonald]; I'm a cousin to the Mallyons, when he first met Katlyn and we all spent a lot of time together," Mitch explained.

"For two years James knows I've always had a big opinion of this horse. We booked James for a Highway a few weeks ago but the horse had an elevated temperature and we decided not to come all the way from Albury.

"His two runs back have been as good, he just needed racing. We were waiting for a rain-affected track. He's where we want him now this prep.

"He's back to 1100m and in going where he thrives. He can jar up on firm.

"But James doesn't just take rides for mates. He and his manager only accept when they think they can win - it's high-pressure business.

"They think he's a realistic chance and so do I on what he's shown in harder races. Top jockeys don't ride slow ones.

"This is a solid form race and a capacity field, But they don't do what this horse has - win any race by 'six' and run time if they're average."

Significantly, pre-post TAB favourite I'm Not Slew ($3.70) has drawn a precarious 17 in while Hardware Lane is in barrier 9. The tight and turning Hawkesbury and a short run home suits speed runners.

At present the track is a Soft 7 in overcast conditions with some rain about.

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