NEWCASTLE trainer Kris Lees "can't fault" Mugatoo ahead of his next big test.
And with seven wins from 12 starts since first racing in Australia at the start of 2020, it's not hard to see why.
"He's pretty non complicated and he's never let us down since he's been in the country," Lees told the Newcastle Herald.
"He's ultra consistent and keeps raising the bar when he goes to the races. They're things you love in any horse."
Lees will walk into Randwick on day one of The Championships at Sydney's autumn carnival with six-year-old gelding Mugatoo as favourite for Saturday's $3million Doncaster Mile (1600 metres).
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"It's what you train for I think, it's what you get up for to be involved in the better races," he said.
"So to have a live chance in a Doncaster is rewarding for all the staff and everyone involved."
Having most recently claimed one of the country's biggest prize pools, the $5million All Star Mile (1600m) at Moonee Valley on March 13, Lees remains unfazed saying "there's always pressure when you have a favourite in a big race, but it's better than the alternative".
He described the extra week to prepare, prompted by rescheduling of the program because of recent heavy rainfall, as a "bonus" due to the "similar distance range".
Drawing barrier four and having jockey Hugh Bowman on board also pleased Lees.
"It's a nice gate and there's good speed in the race, but you need luck in the running of these big mile races," he said.
"The jockey knows him and we're pretty happy with how he's going."
Mugatoo, which won the Newcastle Cup in September, finished second and fourth in group 1 company last year in The Metropolitan and Cox Plate respectively.
Lees, who came third in the 2017 Doncaster Mile with Sense Of Occasion, scratched his other runner Gem Song this week in a bid to lengthen the five-year-old gelding's career.
"It was a little issue with an old injury. It wasn't major, but we decided to look after him and try to get some more longevity. So he'll miss the autumn," he said.
Elsewhere on the card, Newcastle trainer Paul Perry has three-year-old geldings Sky Lab and Olympic Gaze in the group 1 Australian Derby (2400m).
Scone trainers are represented in the $500,000 Country Championships final (1400m) with Rodney Northam preparing last-start winner Spiranac and Cameron Crockett looking after Pure Fuego.
Lees also has six-year-old horse Collide in the group 2 Chairman's Quality (2600m) and three-year-old filly Never Talk (1200m) in the group 3 PJ Bell Stakes (1200m).
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