Good Gate Key Factor For Mugatoo In Metrop

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Kris Lees

Kris Lees is banking on a good draw to offset Mugatoo’s hefty weight as the trainer chases a second Metropolitan Handicap victory.

The race provided Lees with the first Group One win of his career when warhorse County Tyrone carted 56.5kg to take out the 2004 renewal.

It was the biggest Metropolitan weight carried to victory in the past 20 years and with 57kg, Mugatoo will need to set a new mark to win on Saturday.

“It shows how big a task it is going to be for him,” Lees said.

“County Tyrone was already a Group One winner and had run in a Sydney Cup when he won the Metrop, and he only won by a head.

“But Mugatoo is a good horse and he will carry the weight. It’s just whether some of these lightweights get an advantage over him.”

The Newcastle Cup winner is a dominant $2.70 favourite for Saturday’s staying feature and Lees says the import is thriving.

While he faces a challenge at the handicaps, an ideal barrier draw in seven has buoyed the hopes of his trainer.

“I am more comfortable with 57 and a good draw than if he had less weight and a bad gate,” Lees said.

“It’s important he is covered up and gets a chance to run out a strong 2400.

“He can be a touch aggressive and if he’s got an achilles heel, it’s that.”

The six-year-old holds nominations for the Cox Plate and the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups and his Randwick performance will determine which races he targets.

Mugatoo will be one of four Metropolitan runners for Lees along with Mustajeer, who has top weight of 58kg, Raheen House and Attention Run.

The latter was second emergency but has gained a start with the scratchings of Shared Ambition and Lord Belvedere, who will both run in The Bart Cummings at Flemington.

Lees concedes Mustajeer and Raheen House need to turn around their recent form but he regards Attention Run as a genuine light-weight chance.

She finished third to Mugatoo at Newcastle and meets him two kilos better at Randwick.

“She’s probably our second pick on current form,” Lees said.

“She ran really well in the Newcastle Cup. She did the same last year then was luckless from a bad draw in the Metropolitan and she’s come up with barrier one this year.

“Some mares are a bit seasonal so if she maintains similar form she could easily run a place here.”

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