Mufhasa earned his stripes as a dual New Zealand Horse of the Year and multiple Champion Sprinter-Miler and now he has gained the ultimate accolade with his pending induction to the New Zealand Racing Hall of Fame.
The common thread running through the story of Mufhasa’s racing career is one of a tough, uncompromising and obviously talented galloper who loved nothing better than a fight. Translated into statistics, those qualities were the platform for a career spanning 62 starts over eight seasons from two to nine years, for 20 wins – no less than 10 of them at Group One level – and stakes in excess of $3.6 million.
Bred by Colin and John Thompson at Rich Hill Stud, the son of Pentire was purchased for $50,000 by Auckland insurance broker David Archer, who was to race him with his partner Di Wright and children Simon and Natalie.
Mufhasa was trained for all of his wins by Ardmore-based Stephen McKee and his most regular rider was Samantha Spratt, who partnered the big brown gelding in all eight of his New Zealand Group One wins. His winning distances ranged from 1000 metres as a debut two-year-old to 1600 metres. At that distance his victories included the Gr. 1 Toorak Handicap, Windsor Park Plate, Captain Cook Stakes and Otaki Maori WFA Stakes, while he was successful twice in the 1200-metre Gr. 1 Telegraph Handicap. In between were Group One wins in the Waikato Draught Sprint (twice), Makfi Challenge Stakes and the Futurity Stakes at Caulfield.
Spratt and Mufhasa were a well-matched combination. “He was so cruisy to ride, he could hang on at times but he loved taking the others on,” Spratt recalled. “Jockeys would try to put the pressure on him, but that they did so at their peril because that just made him try harder.
“He didn’t have it easy at times with issues with his feet at times, but he didn’t let that stop him, he was such a fighter. He’s a horse that will always be special to me.”
Stephen McKee was also the trainer, in partnership with his late father Trevor, of the mighty mare Sunline, but in common with Spratt, Mufhasa will forever command his respect and admiration.
“He always had the ability, but it really wasn’t until he turned four that he began to grow into himself,” says McKee. “His first big win was the Coupland’s Mile at the New Zealand Cup meeting and it all went from there.
“On his day he was just about unbeatable in New Zealand – his two Telegraphs were something else – but going to Aussie and winning the Toorak in Melbourne and then the George Ryder in Sydney, that really defined him.”
Archer refers to the day Mufhasa took his fancy in the Karaka yearling ring as the day he won Lotto. “How lucky were we to own a horse that performed at that level for so long?” he says. “We all know he won 10 Group Ones, but you have to remember he also rand 10 placings at Group One; in fact I believe his best performance was finishing second to Pierro in the George Ryder as an eight-year-old.
“He earned his retirement on our farm and it’s great that he’s going to be at Ellerslie to lead out the field for the Mufhasa Stakes on Saturday. Induction to the Hall of Fame though – that’s the ultimate!”