Horse racing: Jockey James McDonald goes to incredible lengths to ride in Australia's Cox Plate

Fresh from winning the world's richest race on turf - the Everest - ex-pat Kiwi jockey James McDonald has gone to extraordinary lengths to ride in Australia's most prestigious race. 

The 29-year-old will ride the favourite Zaaki in the $5 million Cox Plate at Moonee Valley, hoping the journey to get there will all be worth it come Saturday.

Before the race, McDonald is staying in the middle of nowhere with his good mate - fellow Sydney jockey Hugh Bowman 

"I've left two kids at home and I've brought another one to Victoria with me," Bowman tells Newshub of McDonald. 

After McDonald won the $15 million Everest in Sydney last weekend, COVID-19 restrictions meant he and Bowman had to get in their cars and drive seven hours to isolate themselves in rural Victoria. 

"We're in Yarrawonga which is about an hour south of the border," McDonald says.

The pair have even organised to travel by helicopter to Moonee Valley for the Cox Plate. 

But this is the way it has to be if he wants to partner the hot favourite Zaaki - a horse so good, bookies in Australia paid out on him to win the race last month.

"It's always good when they think you're the certainty in the field," McDonald adds.

"If he performs as he does in the DC, he's obviously the horse to beat."

Bowman meanwhile will ride Zaaki's stablemate, Mo'unga - named after his part-owner, All Blacks' first five Richie Mo'unga 

"Come post-Cox Plate, maybe the horse will be up in lights with him," he jokes. 

Bowman knows how to win a Cox Plate - he won four in a row with the mighty Winx - but he acknowledges his mate's got the best horse in the race this weekend.

"There's no doubt he's the one to beat," Bowman adds.

"If I feel like James is getting too confident I'll mention the 'Winx' word to bring him back." 

McDonald has at least got the early bragging rights.

"I got him on the golf course yesterday so that was a good result for us. I said, 'That's just an entree for Saturday, mate.'"