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What it takes to win the Melbourne Cup -

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ANDY PARK, REPORTER: Before dawn at Flemington, the Melbourne Cup preparations are all about the horse.

Favourite to take out the cup tomorrow is five year old gelding, Hartnell. From the Godolphin team in their trademark blue, they believe this horse and this year is their best chance to win a Melbourne Cup that is so far alluded them.

JAMES MCDONALD, JOCKEY, HARTNELL: Last year we were actually training him for the Melbourne Cup and obviously nothing went right.

ANDY PARK: Behind the power and prestigious, the pressure that puts on Hartnell's union jockey James McDonald is intense.

JAMES MCDONALD: Competed at the highest level. Both run second in the Cox Plate.

ANDY PARK: I am here to find out what the jockey who is tipped to win Australia's greatest horse race does to get ready.

James, Andy. Nice to meet you.

JAMES MCDONALD: Nice to meet you, what's happening.

ANDY PARK: Is this supposed to be jockey training.

JAMES MCDONALD: It is, that's what we're doing.

ANDY PARK: Where is the horse?

JAMES MCDONALD: Don't worry about the horse. The jockey comes first at this point of time.

ANDY PARK: The jockey comes, does the horse know that?

James says a big part of a jockey's training is weight control, which means rugging up to sweat out the extra kilos. I am hot already.

JAMES MCDONALD: Are ya? We haven't even started, mate.

ANDY PARK: But you see, James McDonald is 5ft 6' and weighs just 54kg. Whereas, your humble reporter is 6ft 2' and, well, weighs double what James does.

So what is the sort of training regime of a Group 1 jockey like yourself?

JAMES MCDONALD: So pretty much on a race day I do a lot of walking, running in the mornings and then just, I keep a little bit of energy in the tank for race day, but on a day off, I love my exercise so I train twice a day, whether it is interval work or squash, a lot of swimming is involved. So it comes quite easy for me.

ANDY PARK: How much is the most amount of weight you've had to shed?

JAMES MCDONALD: Well, probably 2kg is the normal amount I do on a race morning. C'mon, boy! This is what Hartnell feels like.

ANDY PARK: I am not your horse.

The New Zealander has already had an extraordinary racing career.

Since his debut, in 2007, he's won the Golden Slipper with Mossfun and clocked up more than 32 Group 1 wins and more than $60 million in prize money and he's only 22 years' old.

RACE CALLER: He's won it by a head to Rich Enough.

ANDY PARK: In your role, you've got international attention, the money, the glamour.


ANDY PARK: Is it really like that?

JAMES MCDONALD: Not really. Behind the scenes, there is a lot of work. Come first Tuesday of November, that is the biggest stage we are playing. It is like an AFL final. That is our time to shine.

ANDY PARK: What is it like to look down that track and at the end of that two mile could be $6 million?

JAMES MCDONALD: Yeah, it is amazing isn't it, when you think about that. I am riding the favourite in Hartnell which is quite mine blowing because, from where I am from in New Zealand, I would never have thought I would ever get there and since I moved to Australia, I've had five chances and I have been lucky enough to finish second.

And so hopefully I can go one better in this race.

ANDY PARK: What is next for jockey training?

JAMES MCDONALD: A little jog, hey.

ANDY PARK: Let's do it.


ANDY PARK: Hartnell is just one of five horses fielded in tomorrow's cup by the high-profile Emirati Godolphin team.

PATRICK BARTLEY, FAIRFAX RACING WRITER: It is a remarkable outfit Godolphin . They have tentacles stemming from Dubai to Ireland to England to America and to Australia.

They are incredibly wealthy, they are incredibly well-bred horses but Godolphin have been successful. They are desperately keen to win the Melbourne Cup. They probably can with Hartnell.

ANDY PARK: With more than 600 horses in training, the global stable is owned by Dubai ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Maktoum, the most powerful man in horse racing.

ANDY PARK: I'm done, I'm done. I don't know how you do it.


ANDY PARK: What was it like meeting Sheik Mohammed, the owner of the Godolphin team for the first the time?

JAMES MCDONALD: He's got some aura about him. When I first met him I didn't know what to say, he's just that kind of man.

But he is a champion boss to work for and he doesn't put a lot of pressure on you race day which is a get thing to have as a jockey.

ANDY PARK: But Hartnell and James McDonald were left in the dust at the Cox Plate by Winx, arguably the world's best short-distance runner at the moment.

How did you feel watching Winx just take off last week?

JAMES MCDONALD: That was mind-blowing. I couldn't believe it.

Obviously Winx is so superior it's not funny.

RACE CALLER: Winx has won it by six lengths to Hartnell, Yankie Rose third.

ANDY PARK: There is a career in her limits certainly for jockeys. What is the future for you after horse racing?

JAMES MCDONALD: Yeah, good question. I have been asked this many a time but it is a hard one.

Like I am too small to play rugby and I will be too old to play rugby, but I enjoy that type of aspect.

I say I will be in the horse racing industry. Don't ask me what, though.

ANDY PARK: I reckon you would make a good personal trainer.


ANDY PARK: Cause you certainly put me through my paces today.

JAMES MCDONALD: I enjoyed that.

ANDY PARK: Absolute pleasure, thank you and good luck.


RACE CALLER: Hartnell, ultra-impressive by three or four.

LEIGH SALES: And my apologies that story should have come with a warning to viewers that Andy Park was going to take his strides off.