There is a long way to go to the 3200m of the Group 1 Sydney Cup in April, but the Kris Lees trained Mugatoo (IRE) made a successful Australian debut towards the target when winning over 1600m in the $125,000, The Coopers Hotel Newtown Handicap at Randwick on Saturday.
Mugatoo, a five-year-old Henrythenavigator gelding, had started six times in the UK with the shortest distance 2281m. So the 1600m was a test of the unknown for the stable, although track work suggested he was sharp enough reported stable foreman Cameren Swan.
So it proved with apprentice Robbie Dolan bringing Mugatoo’s weight down to 50.5kg and after a run from third last at the top of the main straight they claimed the lead from Man Of Peach (carried 49kg) and apprentice Cejay Graham with 20m to run.
The winning margin was a half neck with Man Of Peace (Zariz) and Graham 2 1/2L ahead of Our Candidate (IRE) (carried 58.5kg) and apprentice Brock Ryan.
Mugatoo was well backed for the first Australian start paying $2.15 on fixed odds and $2.10 on the tote.
From his six previous starts Mugatoo had won two and placed third once earning the equivalent of $18,442. Saturday’s win boosted the tally to $76,442.
Mugatoo (IRE) and apprentice Robbie Dolan, picture Sportpix.com.au
Later in the programme Godolphin’s Pandemic rewarded his supporters with a strong performance in the $125,000, Mark Alati Bookmakers Bm 78 Handicap (1100m) under Tommy Berry.
The three-year-old Sepoy gelding settled back in the field and Berry brought him into the race along the rails. They were climbing all over the heels of the leaders and with a right shoulder push Pandemic found the racing room he needed and he was away to the line for a 1/2l win.
It was just the fifth race for Pandemic and his third win. He finished his spring with a third to Standout in the listed Heritage Stakes over 1100m at Rosehill and Saturday’s win displayed that he will soon be back in black type company.
Pandemic was backed from $4.20 into $2.20 and apart from when he had to use his barging ability there was no doubt he was worthy of the support.
Tommy Berry reflects the strength of the Pandemic's win, picture Sportpix.com.au
.@LizzieJelfs liked him, @DufficyRon liked him, the punters liked him, @TommyBerry21 thought he was his best ride for the day... and Pandemic wins @royalrandwick and everyone is happy! 🙌 @godolphin @JamesCummings88 pic.twitter.com/3BOHxnMDYU— Sky Racing (@SkyRacingAU) January 25, 2020