Mufhasa magnificent in Makfi Challenge

Less than 24 hours after receiving another honour at the NZ Horse of the Year awards, Mufhasa claimed his sixth Group 1 in the Makfi Challenge at Hastings on Saturday.

Mufhasa (7g Pentire – Sheila Cheval by Mi Preferido) kicked off his latest campaign with a commanding win against a star-studded field of spring hopefuls.  

Jockey Sam Spratt gave him a perfect run behind front-runner Fleur de Lune before shooting away at the top of the straight.  He was still comfortably clear crossing the line from Jimmy Choux who flew home for second.

“That race was made to order,” Ardmore trainer Stephen McKee said.  “That’s his go – 1400 metres on a reasonably good track.”

Mufhasa was crowned 2009 NZ Horse of the Year and he was named 2011 NZ Sprinter of the Year at the annual awards in Hastings on Friday.  Jimmy Choux was a unanimous winner of the Horse of the Year award.

The veteran was coming off an Australian winter preparation when he failed in the 2010 Makfi (Mudgway) Challenge.  “Bypassing Brisbane this year was the key,” McKee said.  “He spelled in the good weather in April and May and that really helped.”

McKee will set him for the Windsor Park Plate (1600m) at Hastings on September 17 and, weather permitting, in the NZ Bloodstock Insurance Spring Classic (2040m) on October 1.

Mufhasa notched his sixth Group 1 victory at Saturday and his third this year after the Telegraph Handicap at Trentham and Waikato Draught Sprint at Te Rapa.

Bred by Rich Hill Stud’s John and Colin Thompson, Mufhasa was purchased at the 2006 NZB Select Sale for $50,000 by David, Simon and Natalie Archer along David’s partner Diane Wright.  

Rich Hill resident Pentire is the sire of the Group 1 winners Mufhasa, Xcellent, Zarita, Recurring, Penny Gem, Pentane, Pantani, Sir Pentire, Markus Maximus and Resolution.

Mufhasa’s dam Sheila Cheval has a two year-old filly by Zabeel and she was bred back to the champion Cambridge sire last year.

Of the beaten brigade, Jimmy Choux powered home and Lion Tamer was also making ground strongly for fourth.  Jockey James McDonald was thrilled with the performance of Scarlett Lady who finished right behind the placegetters.  “It was an awesome run,” McDonald said.  “I’ll bet her last 600m was faster than any other horse in the race.  She was flying.”