By Ray Hickson
What Kerrin McEvoy tells connections of Mugatoo after Saturday’s Group 3 $160,000 Iron Jack Premier’s Cup (1900m) at Rosehill might be more important than what he says now.
There’s some conjecture over that the talented import’s most effective distance range is – possibly confused by a ridiculously easy win over 2922m in the UK – and McEvoy says that’s likely to become clearer this weekend.
Mugatoo has a stranglehold on the Premier’s Cup according to the market – he’s $2.25 with TAB – as he reappears following that impressive Winter Challenge (1500m) victory five weeks ago.
McEvoy, sitting on 1994 career wins in the saddle, won the Canberra Cup (2000m) on the gelding and partnered him in two 2400m races in the autumn (second in the Manion Cup and sixth in the Tancred) so is keen to see him in that middle distance range again.
“In the Tancred he raced a bit keen but there’s every reason to think he might be a mile-2000m horse, even though he has won over further, so I think this trip will be perfect,’’ he said.
“Is he a lightweight Epsom horse? He showed he can quicken off a good gallop, so there’s options for him.”
The six-year-old, currently $26 in TAB's Epsom market, has won a trial since he posted the fastest individual splits for the final 800m of the Winter Challenge and reeled off a 34.07 last 600m (Punter's Intelligence) which was three lengths superior to anything else in the race.
It’s a sign, McEvoy says, the horse is enjoying his racing and a testament to how trainer Kris Lees is handling him.
“He’s had time to settle in and Kris is working him out really well and that first-up win shows that,’’ he said.
“Kris would have planned an attack into some better races later in the carnival so the fact that he’s going there fresh to 1900m doesn’t worry me at all.’’
Interestingly, the last 11 winners of the Premier’s Cup have carried 54.5kg or less so if Mugatoo is to win with 57kg it’ll be the biggest weight carried to victory since Activation (60.5kg) in 2006.
McEvoy is adamant Mugatoo’s size doesn’t mean his inside gate is any real negative and is hoping to make plenty of advantage out of it.
“He was back on the rail in the Canberra Cup and managed to slice his way through, it’s just a matter of getting him relaxed and into a nice rhythm,’’ he said.
“I’m sure if he can do that he will be very hard to beat.
“He’s not a horse you want to start early by any means, from that gate there’s no reason why he has to be in the second half of the field.’’
Unbeaten colt Peltzer is a horse McEvoy can’t wait to reunite with in the Group 3 $160,000 TAB San Domenico Stakes (1100m) after carving a decent reputation for himself with three wins in the late autumn.
It was an eventful morning for Peltzer prior to winning his trial on August 18, he took fright at a camera getting a bit too close to him in the tie up stall area, but McEvoy said once he was out on the track he showed that he’s come back better into his second preparation.
“He’s a bit excitable anyway but we were lucky the other day there wasn’t a bad accident and we still have a colt to race,’’ he said.
“He knows he’s a colt and it is important to keep him in the right frame of mind but he jumped out and got into a nice rhythm.”
Peltzer, second favourite with TAB at $3.80 on Friday, meets popular elect Anders for the first time since they clashed at Kembla Grange back in April and McEvoy expects it will be up to him to run that rival down once again.
Mugatoo wins at Rosehill on July 25
“He’s a horse that is speedy but whether we lead on Saturday I don’t know. From that draw we have options,” he said.
“It’s a small field but there’s a nice bit of quality there so it will be a good test.”
Of McEvoy’s other rides at Rosehill he’s expecting a good track to bring out the best in Aim in the Group 3 $160,000 De Bortoli Wines Ming Dynasty (1400m).
The Peter and Paul Snowden trained three-year-old won his first two starts but his only placing since came when third behind Mamaragan in the Skyline Stakes in February. McEvoy said he had excuses for his first-up unplaced effort at Canterbury.
Aim, $7.50 with TAB, settled near the tail on a soft 7 on a day that leaders were advantaged and the winner Escaped was able to control the race from the front but he made some late ground to be beaten five lengths.
“He will come on a ton for the run, just put a line through last start,’’ he said.
“You’d like to think getting out to 1400m from a good draw we don’t have to be that far back. Look for him to settle a bit closer and run a better race.
“I’m not sure if he’s all that adept on soft or heavy and I’m looking forward to seeing how he’s progressed.”