Racing: Mufhasa to clash with super filly

By Michael Guerin

Mufhasa (right) will carry the hopes of New Zealand when he contests the All Aged Stakes at Randwick on Saturday. Photo / APN
Mufhasa (right) will carry the hopes of New Zealand when he contests the All Aged Stakes at Randwick on Saturday. Photo / APN

Stephen McKee thought he might never see another filly like his former champion Sunline - on Saturday he will try to beat one.

McKee is taking Mufhasa to Sydney for his final race of the season in the A$400,000 All Aged Stakes and that is likely to mean a clash with unbeaten filly Atlantic Jewel.

McKee says Atlantic Jewel isn't just a great filly, she is Sunline-like great.

"She looks about as good as Sunline was as a 3-year-old," said McKee.

"Of course, I'm not saying she will go on to be as good, because what she [Sunline] did later in her career is pretty hard to match.

"But on what I have seen so far Atlantic Jewels is very, very special so she would be about as good as Sunline was at three."

That in itself is a staggering comparison considering Sunline won the 1999 Doncaster Handicap against the older horses, a race she was to win again carrying 58kg three years later.

McKee is not prone to hyperbole but has plenty of ammunition in his assessment of Atlantic Jewel.

"When she won two weeks ago she went just outside the time the open sprinters posted earlier on the same day and she did it under a hold after being three wide.

"She really is something and it wouldn't surprise me if this time next season she was on a huge winning streak like Black Caviar.

"But I'm hoping not."

McKee says one of the keys to Mufhasa, who races in Australia as King Mufhasa, beating Atlantic Jewel at weight-for-age would be local speedster Rain Affair starting in the All Aged.

"I'd love him to be there because he would set the pace and we could camp outside him.

"That would mean Atlantic Jewel will be stalking us somewhere but I just have to hope the old horse's toughness kicks in and we can fight her off."

McKee is thrilled with how Mufhasa has handled a season in which he has spaced his races.

That has helped him to win twice at the highest level in Melbourne, although his record right-handed in Australia does not make fun reading for punters.

"But he is as good as I can have him and has settled in well.

"So I won't be using this being his last race of the season as an excuse."

The draw for the All Aged will not be made until today, because of Anzac Day.

Another paying close attention to the final fields will be Hastings trainer John Bary.

He has Horse of the Year Jimmy Choux in the A$500,000 Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

That carnival-ending weight-for-age feature can sometimes drop away to a small field of tired horses with only a couple of winning chances but Bary has not been that lucky.

Jimmy Choux meets Doncaster winner More Joyous, Melbourne Cup hero Americain and the most improved horse in possibly the entire world in Manighar.

Hall of Fame harness trainer Barry Purdon had a thrill of a very different sort when he trained his first thoroughbred winner at Pukekohe yesterday.

The win came with I'm Maveric, who led throughout in the hands of Michael Coleman.

"That was great, it's very satisfying to finally get on the board," said Purdon.

He has two gallopers in work and two spelling after taking out a training licence last year, having trained a few thoroughbreds a decade ago.

Purdon headed to Sydney straight after the race to campaign pacer Pembrook Benny in Saturday night's A$200,000 Len Smith Mile.

- NZ Herald

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