After a pretty tough first day of the Championships, we return to Randwick for an absolute belter of a card for day this Saturday, featuring a ripping Queen Elizabeth and very open Sydney Cup.
Mugatoo’s breathtaking win in the All-Star Mile recently is his peak performance to date and has elevated him to be considered among Australia’s best weight-for-age middle-distance horses.
The six-year-old son of Henrythenavigator travelled beautifully in the run and looked to really appreciate the Moonee Valley track. He pinched ground effortlessly throughout as jockey Hugh Bowman kept him in a nice rhythm.
Approaching the final turn, he was in an awkward position, waiting on a run behind a wall of horses that were all under pressure.
Damien Oliver aboard Russian Camelot tried his best to keep Mugatoo pocketed, but the gap finally opened – and when it did, he showed a devastating turn of foot to burst to the lead. This is the type of finish that only very good horses can find.
The Australian Bloodstock import made his Australian racing debut in January 2020, and while he was initially targeted towards our staying races, he has since shown that he is probably better suited to middle-distance runs.
His Cox Plate performance was nothing short of brilliant. He covered a lot of ground there after being caught wide without cover the whole race. Despite this, he still had the ability to loom as a potential winner on the turn before understandably tiring the final 150 metres to finish a luckless fourth.
While he is not a Group 1 winner yet, his win in the All-Star Mile confirmed that he absolutely possesses the quality of a Group 1 weight-for-age horse. There were nine Group 1 winners (some multiple) in that race, most of which he handled easily, and arguably with even luck he could have won by further.
The winner of the world’s richest mile race looks bound for more success though the autumn. Trainer Kris Lees had initially planned a three-start preparation for Mugatoo, culminating in a run in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, run over 2000 metres at Randwick in April.
However, his explosive turn of foot over the 1600 metres has opened up new possibilities. In the week following his win, Lees had hinted at a rethink of plans, suggesting a possibility of a start in the Doncaster Mile had not been ruled out.
With the heavy rain in Sydney over the weekend causing a deferment of all autumn races back one week, this would leave five weeks between runs if he was to go straight to the Queen Elizabeth as was initially planned. This now seems an unlikely prospect, and makes a start in the Doncaster Mile attractive.
A run in the highly regarded Group 1 mile would mean a more suitable four weeks between runs, and would still allow him to back up the following week into the Queen Elizabeth Stakes if the stable wishes to, should he pull up well.
While he is not a Group 1 winner yet, he has shown that he is everything but that, and for this reason he is extremely well weighted and placed for the handicap race. He would only carry 55.5 kilograms, which makes a horse like him a very good proposition.
There has also been some talk of a start in the George Ryder Stakes (1500 metres) or Ranvet Stakes (2000 metres) this weekend, following the announcement that nominations will be re-opened for these postponed races.
If he does not accept to run this weekend, then the $7 on offer for the Doncaster looks very attractive. It would be very likely for him to head there, and would start half that price if he did.
Wherever he heads to next he will be worth following.