Gwenda Markwell remains on the hunt for a lightweight rider to partner Peal Of Bells in The Metropolitan (2400m) – a race that will determine the stayer’s Melbourne fate.
James McDonald has partnered Peal Of Bells in his last two starts – a fast-finishing second behind Wazn in the Wyong Cup (2100m) before the six-year-old pleased when third behind Winning Glory in a strong Group 3 Newcastle Cup (2300m).
McDonald can’t make the 52 kilograms Peal Of Bells has been allotted for The Metropolitan, with Markwell having been forced to explore the option of a Victorian-based hoop for the ride.
‘‘James has ridden him really well in his last two starts, but has already said he won’t be able to make the weight,’’ Markwell said.
‘‘I’ll keep our options open and hopefully we’ll be able to get a good jockey on him.’’
Peal Of Bells’ Metropolitan fortunes will determine whether Markwell forges on with a Melbourne campaign later in the spring.
Jason Collett drove Peal Of Bells into sixth in last year’s staying feature of the Sydney spring, prompting Markwell to head south with her stable star.
He subsequently tackled the Lexus Stakes (2500m) – the Melbourne Cup’s last chance saloon – but struggled to make an impact when finishing well down the track behind Kelinni.
Peal Of Bells still holds an entry for this year’s Cup, but will have to win his way through to the final field via The Lexus Stakes.
The son of Clangalang has only raced once over the two-mile distance, thumping his rivals in a dominant Stayers Cup victory in June.
Markwell said she would wait to see how Peal of Bells went in The Metropolitan before deciding on Melbourne.