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Mufhasa (NZ) Takes his Eighth Group 1

Tuesday 6 December 2011, 9:00AM

By New Zealand Bloodstock

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TRENTHAM

The Stephen McKee trained Mufhasa (NZ) was back to his winning best on Saturday when starting at hot favourite in the Group 1 Westbury Stud Captain Cook Stakes (1600m) at Trentham.

The Group 1 feature saw Mufhasa (Pentire x Sheila Cheval) ridden confidently by jockey Sam Spratt with the pair jumping brilliantly from barrier two to take the lead early in the running, before taking a sit
behind Bragato (Brilliance) in transit.

At the 600 metre mark Mufhasa was cruising and took the lead at the point of the turn. Never really looking in any danger, the seven-year-old was all class as he strode out powerfully in the final stages to win by a memorable one-and-a-quarter-lengths.

Mufhasa's victory was the 17th of his remarkable career, eight of these coming at Group 1 level. With five of his Group 1 wins coming at weight-for-age, the race was also his fifth victory over the mile.

The son of Pentire has been in outstanding form this season with his five starts bringing three wins and two seconds. Fresh-up he was simply too sharp in the Group 1 Makfi Challenge Stakes at Hawke's Bay beating Jimmy Choux (Thorn Park).

The Group 1 Windsor Park Plate saw the tables turned with Mufhasa running a brave second to Jimmy Choux. However, it was his next start in Australia that saw the seven-year-old stamp himself as a leading sprinter-miler in Australasia when winning the Group 1 Toorak Handicap.

His trainer Stephen McKee has set a goal for the seven-year-old to win ten Group 1 races and connections will now have to decide whether he lines up in the Group 1 Telegraph Handicap in late January.

Mufhasa has won the Telegraph Handicap on two occasions in 2009 with 55.5 kilograms and earlier this year carrying 56.5 kilograms, and connections are keen to give the son of Pentire a break while deciding his next race.

"I said to the owner of the horse after he had won the Toorak Handicap that I would like to have him win 10 Group 1 races. This is the eighth and if he misses the Telegraph I will keep him at weight-for-age to achieve that desire," said McKee.

A graduate of New Zealand Bloodstock's 2006 Karaka Select Sale, Mufhasa was bought by David Archer from Rich Hill Stud for $50,000. Bred by Colin and John Thompson, the son of Pentire has now won over $2.7 million.

Running second in the race was the 2010 Telegraph Handicap winner Vonusti (NZ) (Ustinov) for jockey Noel Harris. After jumping awkwardly, the seven-year-old recovered and fought on well after being blocked for a run in the straight. A graduate of New Zealand Bloodstock's Ready to Run Sale,
he gave NZB the quinella in the Group 1 feature.

Third in the race was the Group 3 Desert Gold Stakes winner, the lightly raced Dating (O'Reilly). She has a half-brother in the 2012 Karaka Select Sale, the colt by Towkay from Seaton Park at Lot 884