Heather Main secures services of James McDonald for Zoulu Chief

Heather Main has booked Australian champion jockey James McDonald for Coventry Stakes hope Zoulu Chief at Royal Ascot.

McDonald is no stranger to success at the Royal meeting and partnered three winners at the fixture 12 months ago.

Aside from his two Australian mounts, Coolangatta in the King’s Stand Stakes and Artorius in the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Stakes, he will team up with George Boughey and Charlie Hills, and hopes to have about 10 rides over the five days.

Main is thrilled he has agreed to partner Zoulu Chief, who sprang a 150-1 surprise on his second start in a six-furlong maiden at Newbury for the Kingston Lisle handler.

“We are delighted that we have booked James McDonald on Zoulu Chief in the Coventry,” confirmed the American-born handler at Newbury on Thursday.

“It is a tough race, but he is very much entitled to be there. He has been training nicely since winning here and is on really good terms with himself. We are very happy with him and looking forward to him out-running his odds again. What do those bookmakers know anyway?” she laughed.

“The owner is in Singapore, and has horses in Australia as well, so he decided he’ll put him up. We’re delighted to have him, obviously.”

Main is taking a small but select team to the meeting, with stayer Mostly Sunny, who finished runner-up in a two-mile Goodwood handicap, potentially looking well handicapped if he gets into the Ascot Stakes.

Main added: “Mostly Sunny is entered in the Ascot Stakes. I’m hoping he will get in, but if he does, he’ll run well, and he’ll have a low weight.”

Celtic Empress will bid to get more luck than she did in last year’s Kensington Palace, when she finished a close-up sixth to Rising Star, having had her path blocked when challenging.

“Celtic Empress is in the Kensington Palace. She ran really well in it last year,” Main said.

“She finished sixth, but just couldn’t get a run in time. Because she is a hold-up horse, she gets blocked a lot, but hopefully one of these will fall her way soon.”

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