The Godolphin stable are relying on proven performers at the highest level to deliver All-Star Mile glory after nominating Alizee, Best Of Days and Hartnell – who between them have seven Group 1 wins – for the world’s richest mile race.
Head trainer James Cummings revealed live on Channel 7 that the trio would be aimed at the Festival of Racing’s new $5 million showpiece event, which makes its debut at Flemington on Saturday, 16 March.
“We’re really excited to be part of the richest mile race anywhere in the world,” said Cummings.
“We think it’s a great concept and like the way it really engages not only with a racing audience, but potentially reaches beyond that and brings in a wider audience not only from Australia, but from around the world.
“At weight-for-age and with the first running at Flemington, we’re pretty pumped up to see how many people might vote for our runners.”
All three horses have triumphed in 1600m contests at the elite level, with the most recent of Hartnell’s four Group 1 triumphs coming in the Epsom Handicap over the mile at Randwick last September.
It was the 13th victory of the eight-year-old’s illustrious racing career, and took his earnings past the $5 million mark.
“Hartnell is our perennial stable favourite, he’s a proper weight-for-age horse and the winner of the Epsom Handicap in a course record time,” said Cummings.
Alizee and Hugh Bowman winning at Randwick, picture Stevehart.com.au
At just half Hartnell’s age, Alizee has her whole career ahead of her but the daughter of Sepoy has already made quite an impression, with her dominant win in last year’s Coolmore Legacy Stakes (1600m) doubling her tally of Group 1 wins, following her earlier victory in the 2017 Flights Stakes (1600m).
She made an eye-catching return to the track with a comfortable victory under jockey Hugh Bowman in the Listed Christmas Classic (1200m) at Randwick in late December.
“Alizee was a stunning return winner this preparation over 1200m, and with two Group 1 wins over 1600m to her name already, she looks a really nice candidate for this race,” said Cummings.
The third and final horse nominated by the in-form stable is British import Best Of Days, a star performer during the 2018 Spring Racing Carnival.
Having made his Victorian breakthrough in the Group 3 Coongy Cup (2000m) at Caulfield in October, when he dead-heated with fellow import Mask of Time, the five-year-old registered his maiden Group 1 success in the Kennedy Mile (1600m) at Flemington.
That day he defeated fellow All-Star Mile nominee Le Romain by half a length, and Cummings is confident Best Of Days can continue his upward trajectory since arriving in Australia.
“Best Of Days is one of our newer, imported horses who won the Cantala Mile on Derby Day last year, when he ran a fast time in a high-rating race in what was only his first preparation in Australia,” noted Cummings.
“He’s just the sort of horse you could see improving enough to be competitive with these type of horses in weight-for-age races.
“All three horses are in great health. Alizee won effortlessly first up, we haven’t seen the other two on the track yet but they’re both training beautifully in the preliminary part of their preparations.
“It’ll be an exciting campaign for those three horses, and we’d dearly love to see them get in the race.”