Talented stayer Mugatoo set for career-best campaign

Mugatoo is set for a career-best campaign but trainer Kris Lees is only cautiously optimistic about a comeback win in the Group 2 $250,000 Apollo Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.

Lees pointed out that Mugatoo has not won at less than 1500m in his career and is first-up against a select squad of elite weight-for-age performers.

Former English stayer Mugatoo showed his quality last spring when he won the Group 3 Newcastle Gold Cup then ran second in the Group 1 The Metropolitan and fourth in the Group 1 Cox Plate.

But with Mugatoo about to start only his third race campaign in Australia, Lees believes the best is still to come from the talented gelding.

“He’s lightly raced (16 starts) for a six-year-old so he still has a lot of upside,’’ Lees said.

“Physically, there is not much change in the horse from what we saw last spring but he’s very settled in his routine these days.

“He’s in really good order and in his recent trial, even though he was just a touch keen, I think that was a positive sign.

“I would expect they might be a touch sharp for him in the Apollo but he should be working home well.’’

Mugatoo is the only horse among the nine entries for the Randwick feature race yet to win at Group 1 level. The field includes:

#The nine Apollo nominations have collectively earned more than $25.6 million prizemoney.

#Trainer Chris Waller has four entries – Verry Elleegant, Funstar, Kolding and Toffee Tongue.

#Godolphin’s James Cummings will be represented by Golden Eagle winner Colette.

#Hall of Fame jockey Hugh Bowman is aiming for a record eighth Apollo win on Kolding.

TAB Fixed Odds price assessors have rated Funstar as early favourite at $3.50 but there has already been good support for stablemate Verry Elleegant who opened at $6 and is into $4.50.

Waller, who has won five Apollo Stakes with champion Winx (2019, 2016-17), Endless Drama (2018) and Danleigh (2010), also has classy filly Hungry Heart as early $3.50 favourite for the Group 2 $200,000 Light Fingers Stakes (1200m).

#THE nation’s two best sprinters and straight-track specialists, Bivouac and Nature Strip, are among 10 entries for Saturday’s Group 1 $750,000 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes (1000m) at Flemington.

Godolphin’s Bivouac, the $2.50 favourite, has a 2-1 lead in head-to-head clashes with the Waller-trained Nature Strip ($4.50) including when both last ran, the Group 1 VRC Sprint Classic last November when the former raced away to a dominant win by more than three lengths.

Originally published asMugatoo ready to launch in Apollo

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