A total of 83 eligible horses, including the reigning Cox Plate winner and Caulfield Cup heroine, have been nominated for the third edition of the $5 million All-Star Mile to be run at The Valley on March 13.
Late entrants for the 2021 running of the world’s richest mile race include Chris Waller’s mighty mare Verry Elleegant and the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained Sir Dragonet, a dominant winner of the 100th edition of the Cox Plate last October.
Should he earn his place in the field, Sir Dragonet would return to the scene of his famous victory at The Valley which this year takes up hosting duties of Australia’s only fan-voted race.
The Irish import is one of 23 Group 1 winners in the nominations list, with 27 $1 million-plus prizemoney earners and 25 three-year-olds, including Golden Rose and Caulfield Guineas winner Ole Kirk.
Interstate raiders claimed the first two editions of The All-Star Mile, with the Queen of Tasmania Mystic Journey, again entered, and Western Australian Regal Power taking home the $2.25 million winner’s cheque in 2019 and 2020 respectively.
All six states of Australia, plus New Zealand, are represented in the entry list this year.
Perhaps the most eye-catching late nominee came from Queensland, with cult hero The Harrovian aiming to fly the flag for the Sunshine State.
The seven-year-old gelding has fast become one of the country’s most popular gallopers, with his most recent win, a typically gutsy effort in the Bernborough Plate over The All-Star Mile trip of 1600m, extending his winning streak to 11 races.
The Harrovian began his career in Victoria but after a moderate record he was bought, for a mere $20,000, by prominent north Queensland racing identity Tom Hedley and switched to Cairns trainer Stephen Massingham, who also took a share in the horse. The move to a warmer climate sparked an astonishing run of form which has now produced 14 wins from 16 starts, the last two for the training team of Toby and Trent Edmonds, to take The Harrovian’s career prizemoney earnings to $744,830.
Verry Elleegant (NZ) and Mark Zahra, picture Racing Photos
“The quality and diversity of nominations for The All-Star Mile 2021 has again exceeded our expectations, with 45 stables from right across Australia and New Zealand all vying to win the marquee race of Victoria’s autumn carnival,” Greg Carpenter, Racing Victoria’s Executive General Manager – Racing, said.
“The original All-Star Mile produced a fairy-tale story with Mystic Journey, who cost just $11,000, winning the world’s richest mile race, and if The Harrovian can earn enough votes to get into the field this year, it would set up another rags-to-riches tale.
“Some horses will be very familiar to voters, with six previous All-Star Mile runners again nominated for this year’s race, but it is exciting to see so many up-and-coming horses in the entry list and it will be fascinating to see how the voting period plays out when it officially opens on January 22.
“Just as importantly, with every $500 nomination fee going to The All-Star Mile’s official charity, a total of $41,500 will be donated to the Good Friday Appeal, which raises money for Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital.”
Verry Elleegant is one of seven All-Star Mile nominees from Chris Waller Racing, with her fellow Group 1 winners Funstar, Humidor and Kolding also entered by Australia’s leading trainer alongside highly progressive filly Hungry Heart and six-year-old geldings Imaging and Star of the Seas.
The powerful Maher-Eustace stable also left it late to play their hand, with a total of seven high-class gallopers entered before nominations closed on Monday. Sir Dragonet’s stablemates Junipal, Amish Boy, Away Game, Grandslam, Jet Propulsion and Snapdancer will all hope to catch the eye of the voting public in a bid to make their way into the 15-runner field.
Peter Moody’s exciting colt Glenfiddich, who won the Group 2 Stutt Stakes (1600m) in fine style at The Valley two starts ago, will also make a pitch for votes whilst Group 1 winners Dreamforce (trained in Sydney by John Thompson) and Mark Newnham’s recent Group 2 Villiers Stakes (1600m) heroine Greysful Glamour will be hoping to fly the flag for New South Wales.
Regal Power’s stablemate Arcadia Queen will head over from Perth for a campaign which her connections hope will culminate in a tilt at The All-Star Mile 2021 and she could be joined by last-start Group 2 Perth Cup (2400m) hero Neufbosc, who has been a revelation since joining Neville Parnham’s stable with three wins from his last five starts.
South Australian stables are well-represented in the nominations list, with two-time Group 1 winner Behemoth, trained at by David Jolly while Jolly’s brother Richard and his niece Chantelle prepare another SA entry in Kemalpasa.
Across the Tasman Sea, Kiwi hopes will rest on Jamie Richards’ magnificent mare Melody Belle, the 12-time Group 1 winner who finished third in last year’s All-Star Mile, her stablemate and reigning Epsom handicap winner Probabeel and Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman’s unbeaten three-year-old Aegon.
Victorian trainers inevitably make up the bulk of The All-Star Mile nominations, with Danny O’Brien’s boom colt Russian Camelot one of 43 entrants from the state. New South Wales comes next with 26, followed by South Australia and Western Australia with four apiece, Tasmania with two, Queensland one and New Zealand three.
With nominations now closed, attention turns to the voting period which gets underway on January 22. The top 10 vote-getters will be unveiled by RV on, or before, February 19, with the field of 15 supplemented by five wildcard runners which will be determined through a combination of two ‘win and you’re in races’ and The All-Star Mile wildcard panel.