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Forget Flemington: Lees plots Mugatoo’s next move

In-form NSW galloper Mugatoo won’t put his winning streak on the line in Saturday’s Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington.Mugatoo has won his last three starts and six of his eight outings since arriving at Kris Lees’ stable at Newcastle in 2019.Lees entered Mugatoo for the $500,000 Turnbull Stakes to keep his options open.But…

In-form NSW galloper Mugatoo won’t put his winning streak on the line in Saturday’s Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington.

Mugatoo has won his last three starts and six of his eight outings since arriving at Kris Lees’ stable at Newcastle in 2019.

Lees entered Mugatoo for the $500,000 Turnbull Stakes to keep his options open.

But the Irish import is also among the nominations for the Epsom Handicap, Hill Stakes and Metropolitan Handicap at Saturday’s Randwick meeting.

Lees ruled out running Mugatoo in the Epsom, leaving the Hill Stakes and the Metrop as the likely assignments on Saturday.

The trainer said he would decide the gelding’s target on Tuesday.

“I just wanted to have a look at the Turnbull and see what it’s in it,” Lees said.

“He’d be highly unlikely to run in the Turnbull. He won’t be in the Epsom, that’s one guarantee.

“I don’t know where he’ll run yet.

“I’d say he’d stay here but I don’t know which race yet. It will be one of the two, probably the Metrop.”

Trainers entered 23 horses for the Turnbull Stakes but the number of runners that will compete in the event is unclear.

Of the Turnbull Stakes nominees, 15 have been entered in other races.

Makybe Stakes winner Fierce Impact is entered in the Turnbull Stakes but is likely to run in the Hill Stakes.

Last year’s Turnbull Stakes winner Kings Will Dream has also been nominated for the Hill Stakes.

Classy mare Verry Elleegant is another Hill Stakes entry but Mark Zahra has been booked to ride the four-time Group 1 winner in the Turnbull Stakes.

Bookmakers have installed Verry Elleegant as the $4 favourite in ‘all-in’ Turnbull Stakes betting ahead of Surprise Baby at $6. Fierce Impact and the Hawkes Racing-trained Master Of Wine are $8 chances.

Lees said his other Turnbull Stakes nomination, Mustajeer, would also run at Randwick but his form needed to improve on two fair runs this time in.

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