Mugatoo on the verge of entering record books at Randwick

Favorite Mugatoo will be given his chance to etch his name into the record books in Saturday’s Group 1 The Metropolitan (2400m) at Royal Randwick.

MUGATOO winning the Sharp Electronics N'castle Cup.
MUGATOO winning the Sharp Electronics N'castle Cup. Picture: Steve Hart

Trainer Kris Lees had been considering also accepting with the six-year-old – unbeaten in three starts this campaign – in the $500,000 Group 2 wfa Hill Stakes (2000m) on the same program, but this afternoon confirmed he would not be a dual acceptor.

"Mugatoo  has drawn well enough (barrier 7) and will run in The Metropolitan," Lees said.

"I'm very happy with the way he has progressed since winning the Newcastle Gold Cup last Friday week, but he is going to have to be every bit as good as we hope he is to win again on Saturday."

Mugatoo carried 59kg in his Group 3 Newcastle Cup triumph, and Lees and connections did not expect him to be penalised 1kg to 57kg for the $750,000 The Metropolitan.

Only three horses – and two of them were outstanding stayers - in the last 50 years have won Sydney's spring staying feature with more weight.

Ming Dynasty , who won two Caulfield Cups (1977 and 1980), carried 59.5kg to victory in 1978, and Hayai, who had won both The Metropolitan (52.5kg) and Caulfield Cup (52.5kg) in 1983, carried 57.5kg to win his second Metropolitan in 1984.

Junoob (subsequently disqualified after returning a positive swab) "won" The Metropolitan with 58kg in 2014, but weights were raised 3.5kg at acceptance time that year.

Thrice Melbourne Cup winner Kerrin McEvoy, seeking his first success in The Metropolitan, again partners Mugatoo, on whom he has already won the Group 3 Premiers Cup (1900m) at Rosehill Gardens on August 29 and Newcastle Cup.

Lees, who won The Metropolitan back in 2004 with then stable stalwart County Tyrone (56.5kg), pointed out that gelding had already won the Group 1 Queensland Derby (2400m) in 2002 and was runner-up (with 56kg) in the 2003 Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m).

The last Newcastle Cup winner to win The Metropolitan in the same year was Glencadam Gold in 2012. Another import (as with Mugatoo), Glencadam Gold also won the Premiers Cup before carrying 58kg (weights were raised 1.5kg) to victory at Newcastle as a $1.30 favorite in a small line-up, then had only 53kg (1kg above the limit) when he bolted away with The Metropolitan.

Lees said he had not made firm spring plans in Melbourne for Mugatoo beyond Saturday's assignment.

"Everything is on the table. He might even stay here for the $500,000 Group 3 Craven Plate (2000m) at weight-for-age a fortnight after The Metropolitan on The Everest program at Randwick."

Lees this morning accepted with four horses – Mugatoo, topweight Mustajeer (Hugh Bowman), Raheen House (Jason Collett) and Attention Run (Andrew Gibbons).

Attention Run, placed in the last two Newcastle Cups, is second emergency and will definitely run if she secures a start.

A capacity field of 18 along with four emergencies was declared this morning.

Lees initially had not planned to run Mustajeer (58kg) after he beat only one runner home in the Group 3 Kingston Town Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on September 19.

"He has had a good grounding for Saturday's race, and we'll know where we are at with him afterwards in terms of a spring program," Lees said.

Mugatoo, Mustajeer and Danceteria were nominated for the Hill Stakes on Saturday, and the latter will be the trainer's sole representative.

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