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P. J. McDonald

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P.J. McDonald
Full namePatrick Joseph McDonald
BornCounty Wexford, Ireland
Major racing wins
Major races
Fillies' Mile (2017)
Prix de Diane (2018)
Prix Rothschild (2019)
King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2022)
Significant horses
Laurens, Pyledriver

Patrick Joseph "P.J." McDonald (born 1982) is a Group One winning Irish jockey and President (Flat) of the Professional Jockeys' Association.



McDonald was born in County Wexford and started to ride ponies as a child at his grandmother's cottage.[1]

Having been taught to ride horses by Dusty Sheehy, McDonald began his career as a jump jockey, with Padge Berry mentoring him as a point-to-point rider. However, he only won 3 out of 70 races in his first four years racing under rules as a rider for trainer Charles O'Brien and considered giving up. He was then persuaded to move to England by an ex-jockey and friend, Michael Cleary, to save his career.[2]

In England, he rode for Ferdy Murphy, for whom he won the Scottish Grand National on Hot Weld in 2007.[3] McDonald credits Murphy for helping his development as a jockey: '[He] gave me the confidence, he gave me the platform and he guided me the right way'.[2] Murphy persuaded McDonald to spend a summer flat racing as a means of keeping fit, although finding he felt healthier for it, he continued under that code, with a caveat that he could return to Murphy if he liked.[2][1]

Progressing slowly, his first major success as a flat jockey was winning the 2016 Yorkshire Cup on Clever Cookie, deputising for Danny Tudhope who has been injured in a fall the previous day. The following year at York he also won the Lonsdale Cup on Montaly, trained by Andrew Balding.[3] Also in 2017, he won two Group races on Havana Grey - the National Stakes at Sandown Park and the Molecomb Stakes at Glorious Goodwood.

His most famous connection, however, is with the Karl Burke-trained Laurens who was runner-up in the 2018 1,000 Guineas, before winning two French Group Ones - the Prix Saint-Alary and Prix de Diane. However, after being thrown from a horse in the parade ring at Newcastle, he fractured his heel and ankle, and missed several weeks of the season during which Laurens won two late season Group Ones under Tudhope.[4] Returning to ride Laurens in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot Champions Day, he finished 8th behind Roaring Lion, but would win another Group One, the Prix Rothschild in July 2019.[5]

In July 2022 McDonald picked up a spare ride on 18/1 outsider Pyledriver, trained by William Muir and Chris Grassick, in the Group One King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot. Pyledriver's regular jockey, Martin Dwyer was injured and Frankie Dettori, who had ridden him in his previous two starts, was on the more-fancied Emily Upjohn. McDonald had ridden Pyledriver as a two-year-old, winning the Ascendant Stakes. Pyledriver defied his odds to win the Ascot race by nearly three lengths from Torquator Tasso.[6] Since Dwyer had retired, McDonald retained the ride on Pyledriver when he returned to racecourse for the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot on 24 June 2023. Pyledriver won by just over a length and survived a stewards' inquiry, with McDonald receiving a three-day ban for careless riding.[7]

He has been the Professional Jockeys' Association's safety officer in the North since 2010 and in July 2018 was appointed Flat President of the PJA, replacing Steve Drowne.[1]

Personal life


McDonald lives in Leyburn, North Yorkshire and is married to Abby, who he met at Ferdy Murphy's stables. They have two daughters - Amelia and Lavinia.[1]



Flat wins in Great Britain by year[5]

Year Wins Runs Strike rate Total earnings
2005 0 14 0 £1,853
2006 1 20 5 £7,425
2007 24 265 9 £171,166
2008 38 392 10 £267,906
2009 47 511 9 £302,564
2010 76 647 12 £421,186
2011 57 576 10 £291,140
2012 41 484 8 £317,821
2013 61 565 11 £371,414
2014 54 629 9 £448,605
2015 69 734 9 £674,981
2016 80 812 10 £728,476
2017 128 887 14 £1,853,510
2018 120 892 13 £1,536,655
2019 132 901 15 £1,917,924
2020 72 697 10 £807,159
2021 67 665 10 £900,271
2022 78 602 13 £1,779,700

Major wins


United Kingdom Great Britain

France France


  1. ^ a b c d Richmond, Tom (28 July 2018). "Weekend Interview: PJ McDonald – Handling the reins for the safety and welfare of jockeys". Yorkshire Post. Retrieved 28 September 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Oakley, Robin (2 September 2017). "The Making of a Champion Jockey". The Spectator. Retrieved 29 September 2019.
  3. ^ a b "PJ McDonald". QIPCO Champions Series. Retrieved 28 September 2019.
  4. ^ "Champions Day 2018: I was dying inside watching Laurens win races without me, says PJ McDonald". Evening Standard. 19 October 2018. Retrieved 28 September 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Profile: Jockey - P.J. McDonald - Stats". Racing Post. Retrieved 28 July 2023.
  6. ^ "Pyledriver pulls off surprise King George win as favourites tail off". The Guardian. 23 July 2022.
  7. ^ "'Roll on the King George' - William Muir delighted as Pyledriver makes triumphant return despite stewards' drama". Racing Post. 24 June 2023.