Ten time Group 1 winner King Mufhasa is looking to add to his marvellous record when he takes on glamour colt All Too Hard in the Group 1 $400,000 Sportingbet C.F. Orr Stakes(1400m) at Caulfield tomorrow.
King Mufhasa is having his first start for trainer Bruce Wallace after the eight year old was controversially transferred from Stephen McKee’s stable after winning the Group 3 NZ$70,000 Tod Seeds Manawatu Challenge Stakes (1400m) at Awapuni on December 22.
McKee has been in charge of King Mufhasa from his early days and as well as picking up Group 1 victories on both sides of the Tasman, the grand old sprinter was named New Zealand Horse Of The Year on two occasions.
“I felt a bit funny about taking him, of course, but if it wasn’t here it was going to be somewhere else,” Wallace said.
Owner David Archer had instructed Wallace to bring King Mufhasa to Melbourne for the Orr Stakes departing from the original plan of running the top class sprinter in the Group 1 NZ$200,000 Waikato Draught Sprint (1400m) at Te Rapa also tomorrow.
“I was sitting talking with David about some horses coming here and Mufhasa came up and I told him I thought he should try and work things out so he stayed at McKee’s,” Wallace said.
“But he told me he had already tried that and by that stage I could see the horse was leaving regardless.”
“As I have told anybody who has asked, the horse came here in magnificent shape and I am not going to be claiming a group one win next to my name if he gets the job done on Saturday.
“As far as I am concerned, we have done our best to look after him and carry on the good work.”
Kiwi jockey Sam Spratt is King Mufhasa’s regular rider in New Zealand but Michael Rodd finds himself back on the multiple Group 1 winner and is only one of three Australian jockeys to have ridden him, the other two were Nash Rawiller and Damien Oliver.
Rodd was last on the veteran in the Spring when they finished fifth to Solzhenitsyn in the Group 1 $400,000 David Jones Toorak Handicap (1600m) at Caulfield on October 13.
The top Melbourne jockey is hoping he can rack up another Group 1 win on the tough Kiwi sprinter after they combined to take out the 2011 Toorak Handicap .
“He’s been going backwards and forwards for quite a while now and you know what you are going to get with him,” Rodd said.
“He’s very consistent, has been there and done it before at Group 1 level and hopefully he’s there when the whips are cracking.”
Rodd and King Mufhasa have a great chance of upsetting the Team Hawkes trained All Too Hard who has drawn the outside of the nine horse field at his first run back after finishing second to Ocean Park in the Group 1 $3m Sportingbet Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 27.
King Mufhasa, who is a noted front runner, should be able to get his own way in front from barrier one and with race fitness on his side, Rodd will be trying to sneak a winning break somewhere in the straight.
All Too Hard has been installed the favourite at $2.30 in the Orr Stakes with King Mufhasa the second pick at $4.20 and Pinwheel ($6) and Callanish ($8) the only other runners under double figures.