Mufhasa retired after glittering career

AIDAN RODLEY
Last updated 05:00 19/12/2013

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Champion galloper Mufhasa has been retired.

The 10-time Gr I winner pulled up lame after a trackwork gallop on Tuesday, prompting managing owner David Archer to consider his options with the Pentire nine-year-old.

Yesterday Archer announced Mufhasa's retirement to the Waikato Times.

"Mufh has done damage to a sesamoid bone and we have decided to retire him," Archer said in an emailed statement.

"He is happy and well, and is looking forward to his retirement as a recreational pony, which was what was planned about now in any event. We are proud of our boy and we are rapt we were able to give him a little more time doing what he loves most, running, which he has done in recent times by his two easy trial wins and that wonderful second in the Windsor Park over the last couple of months.

"We love him, and look forward to spending his retirement with him, which we and Amy Doran will be doing. We are grateful for the support and professionalism shown by Bruce Wallace ... guiding us in the recent times of Mufh."

Mufhasa bows out as a two-time New Zealand horse of the year, and having won 20 of his 62 starts, earning more than $3.62 million for Archer, his partner Di Wright and his children Simon and Natalie Archer.

He retires from the racetrack hard on the heels of Zabeel's retirement from stud duties earlier this week, the two champions bowing out within 48 hours and leaving a big void in their respective spheres.

Bred by Colin and John Thompson, Mufhasa was a $50,000 yearling purchase at Karaka for Archer, who placed the horse in the care of Auckland trainer Stephen McKee.

Under McKee's guidance he flourished, winning his ninth race from 18 starts in the Gr II Coupland's Bakeries Mile at Riccarton. Two starts later he secured his first Gr I win in the Telegraph Handicap (1200m) at Trentham.

He followed up with the first of his two Waikato Draught Sprints at Te Rapa at his next start.

Of his 10 Gr I wins, eight were in New Zealand and two in Australia - the Toorak Handicap (1600m) and the Futurity Stakes (1400m), both at Caulfield.

As with any great turf story, there were scandal and setbacks along the way.

McKee fell out with Mufhasa's strapper, Amy Doran, and in January this year, Archer chose to keep the galloper with his strapper rather than his trainer and transferred him to fellow Auckland trainer Bruce Wallace, so he could continue to be looked after by Doran.

Mufhasa underwent tie-back surgery to correct an epiglottal entrapment in March this year, then ran a mighty second to Pierro in the Gr I George Ryder Stakes in Sydney at his next start back.

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However, he then went to Hong Kong to contest the Gr I Champions Mile and bled, a re-entrapment of the epiglottis prompting suggestions he would be retired.

Archer decided to let nature take its course and, satisfied Mufhasa had made a full recovery, brought him back for a final campaign.

Mufhasa showed he had lost none of his zip when his first appearance became a 10-length open trial romp, defeating stakes performer Astute And Agile, and first-up over 1600m he ran a gallant second to Xanadu in the Gr I Windsor Park Plate at Hastings, beating home Gr I winners of the ilk of Nashville, Final Touch, Survived and Ransomed.

He won a trial by three lengths at Cambridge last month, a tuneup for Saturday's Gr III Manawatu Challenge Stakes at Awapuni, a race he won last year - supposedly his final leadup to his swansong performance, a last tilt at the Gr I Waikato Draught Sprint at Te Rapa in February.

However, the sesamoid injury put paid to that.

Archer yesterday said it was an emotional time but he was pleased the pressure was now off Mufhasa and he could enjoy his retirement.

Perhaps he couldn't have said it much better than he did in the wake of Mufhasa's 10th Gr I win in the Windsor Park Plate at Hastings last year: "Time and time again, you stop and shake your head. Why were we so fortunate to buy that little four-legged animal? We got Lotto with that, man. He's a gorgeous animal and I'm just so proud of the horse."

- Fairfax Media

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