Metropolitan Handicap favourite Mugatoo will need to set a modern day weight-carrying record if he is to give jockey Kerrin McEvoy a first win in the prestigious staying race.
McEvoy has won many of the majors on the Australian racing calendar, including three Melbourne Cups, but a Metropolitan Handicap eludes him.
Mugatoo will carry 57kg in Saturday’s 2400m feature after receiving a one kilo penalty for his dominant Newcastle Cup triumph.
The only other horses to have carted similar imposts to victory in the past 20 years are Opinion, who had 56kg in 2014, and County Tyrone, who was prepared by Mugatoo’s trainer Kris Lees to win with 56.5kg a decade earlier.
Mugatoo is in his second campaign for Lees and McEvoy believes the lightly-raced stayer is still improving.
The six-year-old was a clear-cut $3.50 favourite with TAB fixed odds after landing gate seven at Tuesday’s barrier draw, while his main rivals, Shared Ambition ($6) and Brimham Rocks ($9), both drew wide in 19 and 16 respectively.
“This is a nice Group One race for him to be aimed at and Kris has got to know the horse well over a couple of seasons now, so I feel this is the best he’s been,” McEvoy said.
“Kris and the team said he has pulled up well since that Newcastle Cup win, which he got an extra kilo penalty for, but he is the class horse in the race and I’m looking forward to riding him there on Saturday.”
Lees will have up to four runners in the Metropolitan with Mustajeer drawing well in barrier five and Raheen House midfield in gate 12.
The Newcastle trainer also has second emergency Attention Run who will jump from the rails if she gains a start.
Mugatoo is among entries for Saturday’s Hill Stakes (2000m) at Randwick but is expected to take his place in the Metropolitan after drawing well.
McEvoy will also be chasing a breakthrough win in the afternoon’s other feature, the Group One Epsom Handicap (1600m), when he partners Probabeel from barrier 18 in the 20-horse field.