Star Kiwi galloper King Mufhasa hasn’t exactly set the world on fire on past trips to Australia but trainer Stephen McKee feels his current form warrants bringing him back for another crack at the Toorak Handicap at Caulfield.
The six-time Group One winner in New Zealand has won 15 races in his home country and in a 44-start career has amassed nearly $1.9 million in prizemoney.
The Pentire seven-year-old’s recent form includes a first-up win over Cox Plate favourite Jimmy Choux in the Group One Makfi Challenge (1400m) at Hastings and was runner-up to the same horse in the Group One Windsor Park Plate (1600m) at the same track on September 17.
“We were stepping up to the mile (1600m) last time and Jimmy Choux probably had the last shot at us,” McKee told Radio Sport National.
“We were left in front and although King Mufhasa is a good frontrunner he’s much better taking a sit and having a target to chase.
“I thought he was worth another chance in Australia.”
The gelding hasn’t won in 11 appearances in Australia, his best performances being thirds in the 2009 and 2010 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill and a third under 60kg in the 2010 Glasshouse to Toorak rival Woorim at the Sunshine Coast.
He gave away a seven-kilogram weight advantage to Woorim on that occasion for a 1-3/4 length defeat but meets him 4.5kg better on Saturday.
He also ran fourth to last year’s Toorak winner More Joyous in the Futurity Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield last autumn.
King Mufhasa, to be ridden by Michael Rodd, has drawn awkwardly in barrier 12 in the 14-horse field.
McKee said the gelding, who was ninth to Allez Wonder in the 2009 Toorak, could stay on in Melbourne for the Group One Emirates Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on November 5.
King’s Rose is $4.40 favourite with TAB Sportsbet ahead of Rupert Clarke Stakes winner Toorak Toff at $5.50, Woorim, Luen Yat Forever and Torio’s Quest at $9, Fast Clip at $10 and King Mufhasa at $11.