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Wed 21 April 2021

By Jordan Gerrans

Photo credit: Bradley Photographers

A tilt at the 2021 Doomben Cup will be a perfect stepping stone towards the Cox Plate for All-Star Mile winner Mugatoo, trainer Kris Lees thinks.

The career stakes earner of $3,389,517 is having a short freshen up following his sixth-placed effort in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes last Saturday afternoon at Randwick.

Lees, who has bases on the Gold Coast and Newcastle, will then head towards the Doomben Cup with the reigning All-Star Mile champion.

Mugatoo will also be nominated for the inaugural Sky Racing Q22, serving as an end-of-season, weight-for-age finale for middle-distance horses.

But the experienced trainer says Mugatoo is likely to have just one run in Queensland.

Then the Lees team will turn their attention to the Cox Plate later this year in Melbourne.

“It is a long time until the Cox Plate, which is his long-term goal,” Lees said.

“He will have a week out on our water walker and then will be back by the end of the week.

“We will then prepare him for the Doomben Cup.

“Timing wise, it works to just give him one run in Queensland, we want to get him to the Cox Plate so he will need a break after this leading into that.”

Legend Australian rider Hugh Bowman has partnered the six-year-old gelding in his last three trips to the races, including the All-Star Mile, and is likely to stick with him in the Sunshine State.

While Mugatoo has not won since that wet day in Melbourne in the middle of March, Lees says he is going well ahead of the $700,000 Group 1 Doomben Cup on May 22.

“Being Weight For Age and 2000 metres, I think he will get around Doomben well,” Lees said.

“He handled Moonee Valley, it is hard to compare that to Doomben, but any rain does not worry him.

“To be fair, it will probably be a grade below the Queen Elizabeth Stakes that he recently ran in.

“He has come on well from the All-Star Mile, he obviously has not won in his two runs since, but he ran well and was competitive in the Doncaster and Queen Elizabeth.

“He was racing pretty well.”

The Lees team are likely to bring a handful of horses towards the new-look TAB Queensland Winter Racing Carnival, including Wandabaa, Enchanted Heart and Special Reward, among others.

Special Reward, who last went around on Boxing Day last year at Eagle Farm, will look towards the Group 1 Kingsford-Smith Cup at Eagle Farm before the $1.5 million Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap.

The Australian Bloodstock colours, which Mugatoo and Special Reward race in, have had plenty of Queensland luck of late through Lees’ stable, as well as Morgan brothers from Tamworth.

Mugatoo is the $4.50 favourite for the Doomben Cup on May 22 with the TAB with Kiwi star Melody Belle on the next line of betting at $6.