Godolphin's No.1 jockey might be back in town, but trainer John O'Shea says Brenton Avdulla still has a big part to play in the stable's spring fortunes.
On James McDonald's first Sydney Saturday meeting since Anzac Day, Avdulla, who rode for Godolphin in his absence, guided Pearls to a Group Three victory in the Toy Show Quality at Randwick.
Avdulla produced a ride in keeping with the form that has made him one of Sydney's most sought-after jockeys.
Pearls ($5.50) settled fourth before taking off at the home turn and holding off the fast-finishing favourite Dixie Blossoms ($3.60.
The Chris Waller-trained Elle Lou ($5) was third.
Pearls will have one more run before she contests the Group Two Golden Pendant at Rosehill on September 24.
Pearls carried 54kg and Avdulla's capacity to ride light is an important asset for Godolphin, O'Shea said.
"I think he's got a big role to play for us, particularly as we're trying to restrict James to a certain weight," O'Shea said.
"Brenton's come a long way in the last 12 months.
"It's a credit to him. He works very hard and his feedback's excellent."
The victory secured a winning double for Avdulla, who won the Group Two Silver Shadow on Omei Sword earlier in the day.
He has established an early lead in the Sydney premiership, notching nine wins after three weeks of the new racing season.
G1 - The Bet365 Celebration Steeple Chase (class 1)
G3 - The Bet365 Gold Cup Steeple Chase (handicap) (class 1)
G1 - Aes Champion 4yo Hdle
Grade B - Setanta Sport H'cap Hdle
Grade B - Palmerstown House Pat Taaffe H'cap Chase