Jockey Darryl McLellan declared Newcastle colt Jonker in “mint order” in his return from seven months out after an impressive trial win at Gosford on Monday.
McLellan rode the inaugural Max Lees Classic winner to a narrow win over the Kris Lees-trained Graff in the three-year-old 800-metre trial. It was the David Atkins-trained sprinter’s first appearance since finishing last and injured in the Gold Coast Magic Millions 2YO Classic in January after a frightening check into the rails.
McLellan, who has been riding Jonker in trackwork, was hands and heels on the Wyong Magic Millions champion, which was a $26 chance for the September 22 Golden Rose.
“He’s been coming along quite nicely, and his trial was good today,” McLellan said.
“We’ve given him a few nice gallops but he’s really conservative and when he comes out of the machines, he’s a different horse.
“He relaxes well and he’s a lovely little horse. He’s got a motor.
“I didn’t want to do too much. He was well within himself and if had have dug him up, he would have really accelerated, so we were really happy with him.
“He doesn’t seem to have taken any ill-affect from [the Magic Millions collision], and everything is pointing towards a good preparation for him.”
Lees’ triple group 1 winner Le Romain, with James McDonald aboard, was asked for an effort and won the opening trial over 1000m with ease ahead of his return in the group 3 Show County Quality (1200m) on August 18 at Randwick.
McLellan was also impressed with Lees-trained Frankel filly Frankely Awesome, which made up ground to finish third in her trial.
“If I drew better I could have got a nice position in behind and smoked them, but it’s only trial and we were happy with her,” he said.
Lees’ Frankel-Samantha Miss filly Miss Fabulass also made up ground late with ease in her 800m hit-out to finish second.