The Metropolitan 2020: Mugatoo in safe hands with Kerrin McEvoy in bid to snare first Group 1 win

Trainer Kris Lees is relying on jockey Kerrin McEvoy’s renowned ability in staying races to give Mugatoo the chance to continue his winning momentum in the Group 1 $750,000 The Metropolitan (2400m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.

McEvoy is without peer as a distance rider and has “soft hands” which helps his mounts relax in a nice rhythm. Mugatoo has a tendency to overrace and Lees said it is crucial McEvoy finds cover to get the gelding settled early.

“We were thinking about not running Mugatoo in The Metropolitan but the deciding factor was the barrier (seven),’’ Lees said.

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“Once he drew well, then it was hard not to give the horse his opportunity in this race.

“From the good draw, he should get a similar run in The Metropolitan. If Kerrin finds cover, then the horse will settle pretty well.’’

Mugatoo is the horse to beat in The Metropolitan. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Mugatoo, who has won his past three starts impressively, is attempting to become only the second horse this century after Glencadam Gold (2012) to win the Newcastle Cup-Metropolitan double.

“With each race, he has had to cope with a little jump in grade but he’s handled it every time,’’ Lees said. “This is another test for him and we will know what we have got after this race.’’

Mugatoo is at $2.80 for The Metropolitan, a race in which the Lees stable is also represented by Attention Run ($26), Mustajeer ($41) and Raheen House ($61).

Attention Run is over the odds as she goes into the race after a good third to Mugatoo in the Newcastle Cup, while Mustajeer and Raheen House are back to their preferred distance but need to improve.

“I think Attention Run is a genuine place chance,’’ Lees said.

Kerrin McEvoy will be in the hot seat on Mugatoo. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

GAI’S HAPPY HUNTING GROUND

Gai Waterhouse believes she can ­enhance her remarkable Epsom Day Group 1 record at Royal Randwick on Saturday.

The Hall of Fame trainer has dominated this race meeting for more than two decades, preparing a record eight The Metropolitan winners.

She shares the Epsom Handicap training record of seven wins with her late father, Tommy Smith, while her nine Flight Stakes triumphs trails only her father’s 13 wins.

Waterhouse, who now trains in partnership with Adrian Bott, has one runner in each of the majors on Saturday — Hush Writer in the $750,000 The Metropolitan (2400m), Riodini in the $1 million TAB Epsom Handicap (1600m), and Vangelic in the $500,000 Flight Stakes (1600m).

“Hush Writer has come up very well, he is training and racing better than he ever has,’’ Waterhouse said. “He deserves a Group 1, he’s a very talented horse.

Hush Writer is Gai Waterhouse’s hope in The Metropolitan. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

“Riodini is a terrific chance in the Epsom. His run last week (second to I Am Superman in the Shannon Stakes) was just what we wanted to see from him … This horse reminds me so much of my (1996 Doncaster Mile winner) Sprint By.’’

Waterhouse is optimistic Vangelic can challenge glamour fillies Dame Giselle and Hungry Heart in the Flight Stakes.

“It has taken a long time for Vangelic to come right in the coat but she looks great now,’’ Waterhouse said. “She is not a robust, big filly but she is as tough as teak and she will be there in ­the finish.’’

Waterhouse also explained why the stable decided to run Just Thinkin’ in the Group 2 $500,000 Hill Stakes (2000m) rather than the Epsom Handicap.

Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott will be chasing more Group 1 glory on Epsom Day. Picture: Tim HunterSource:News Corp Australia

“Adrian and I discussed it at great length and we feel the Hill Stakes is a more winnable race,’’ Waterhouse said. “There has been a couple of scratchings, it’s a small field and he will be very hard to beat.’’

Waterhouse and Bott also have three juvenile fillies — Total Babe, Miss Hoff and Vaccine — entered for the Group 3 $160,000 Gimcrack Stakes (1000m).

“The favourite, Enthaar, is very good and will be hard to beat,’’ Waterhouse conceded. “But she wasn’t under any pressure in her trial and I like to see what they can do under pressure. Our fillies were put under pressure and they kept giving at the end of their trials.’’

Tighe watches on

Originally published asMugatoo in safe hands for staying test

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