Star Kiwi miler King Mufhasa registered his ninth Group 1 win in the Futurity Stakes
King Mufhasa completed a successful hit-and-run raid on the Melbourne Festival of Racing when he won Saturday’s Group 1 Futurity Stakes at Caulfield (1400m).
The $500,000 event was the only Australian race canny New Zealand trainer Steve McKee had on the seven-year-old’s summer agenda and he responded with a dominant all-the-way win.
His job was made easier when Peter Moody opted to bypass the Futurity with Black Caviar and while McKee was looking forward to racing against the champion mare, he was happy to see his stable star equal her record of nine Group 1 wins.
“I was excited to take her on and see how close we got to her, but to not have to worry about that and get a Group 1 in the bag is great,” McKee said.
“He’s having a great year. He’s a seven-year-old now, he’s fully mature and his season’s form has been great.”
The Futurity win made it back-to-back Group 1 wins in Australia for the son of Pentire, who was beaten in his first 10 tries at Group 1 races in Australia, following Toorak Handicap victory at Caulfield in the spring. He has also won seven Group 1s in his homeland.
He was always in control of Saturday’s race, which changed complexion with noted front-runner Danzylum was scratched on race morning.
Top jockey Nash Rawiller took advantage of the lack of speed to dictate the race.
Rawiller led clearly and stacked them up mid-race and although King Mufhasa ($2.60 fav) had Pinker Pinker ($3.60) poised ominously on his back, he maintained the length advantage he held over the Cox Plate winner all the way up the Caulfield straight.
King Mufhasa extended that to 1-1/4 lengths on the line with the lone three-year-old in the race, Adamantium ($10), sticking on well after racing outside King Mufhasa to finish a further 1-3/4 lengths back third.
Rawiller, who made it back-to-back Futuritys after scoring aboard More Joyous last year, said it was a soft victory.
“He put them to the sword there just before the straight and I was actually very confident,” he said. “I could hear Pinker Pinker coming but every time I asked for my bloke he gave a little bit more.”
McKee will take King Mufhasa back to New Zealand during the week before heading to Sydney in April where he will chase his first Group 1 racing right-handed in the George Ryder Stakes (1500m).