McKee is looking for bigger tracks for Pussy Willow

By: Mark Mazzaglia
September 3rd, 2012

Top New Zealand trainer Stephen McKee believes the bigger tracks of Rosehill and Randwick will be better suited to his smart filly Pussy Willow than the tight Warwick Farm circuit where the filly kicks off her Sydney Spring Carnival on Saturday.

Pussy Willow will be having her first Australian start in the Group 2 $175,000 Furious Stakes (1400m) and McKee says whatever the filly does on Saturday, she will only improve on later in her campaign.

“At Warwick Farm they’ll be halfway down the straight before she gets going,” McKee said.

“It’s a track I think will play against her. Once she gets to Rosehill and Randwick it will be a different story.”

The Australian Turf Club was forced to transfer several meetings, including this week’s Chelmsford Stakes meeting to Warwick Farm due to the refurbishment of the Randwick grandstands and allowing only two major meetings at headquarters during the Spring.

Pussy Willow was looking for her third win from three start when she resumed at Taupo on August 20, but McKee wasn’t disappointed with the filly’s first up fourth  in the Bradbury Park Handicap (1200m).

“She just wasn’t fit enough for that run first-up on the testing ground,” McKee said.

“She’s improved pretty quickly since and I’m happy in that respect.”

The O’Reilly filly will arrive in Sydney early in the week and McKee said that Pussy Willow will appreciate the step up in distance of the  Group 2 $175,000 Tea Rose Stakes (1500m) at Randwick on September 22 and the Group 1 $400,000 Flight Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on October 6.

The Furious Stakes has attracted a smart field of fillies, including Jade Marauder, Dear Demi, Nechita, Flying Snitzel and Queenslander Doubtfilly.

McKee’s stable star King Mufhasa is still on track to come to Australia after finishing fourth to Ocean Park in the Group 1 NZ$200,000 Makfi Challenge Stakes (1400m) at Hawke’s Bay, Hastings after jockey Sam Spratt dropped her whip in the straight.

“I was thinking maybe I hadn’t had him fit enough but when I watched the replay I saw Sam had dropped the whip,” McKee said.

“I was disappointed she didn’t tell us straight after the race but she has now reported it to stewards.

“Mufhasa needed some persuasion in the final 250 metres just to keep him straight.

“He has come out of the race fine and will run in New Zealand before going to Australia.”

King Mufhasa will being going to Melbourne and the nine time Group 1 winner’s main mission is to win back to back Group 1 $400,000 David Jones Toorak Handicap (1600m) at Caulfield on October 13 after beating the Peter Moody trained King’s Rose in last year’s event.

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