Melbourne Cup winners add intrigue to The All-Star Mile nominations

The diversity of entries for The All-Star Mile (1600m) has been reinforced after two Melbourne Cup winners, Rekindling and Almandin, were both nominated for the world’s richest mile race.

Having won ‘the race that stops a nation’ over 3200m, with Almandin triumphing in 2016 and Rekindling following him into the winner’s enclosure 12 months later, the duo could now target further glory at Flemington when the inaugural All-Star Mile is held there on Saturday, 16 March.

The $5 million All-Star Mile will be run over precisely half the distance of the Lexus Melbourne Cup, but Rekindling has previous form at a mile with his maiden victory coming over that trip, at Gowran Park (Ireland) in September 2016.

Similarly, Almandin’s competitive debut was in a 1700m contest in Dusseldorf, in his native Germany, whilst his maiden Australian appearance was in a mile race at Moonee Valley in June 2016.

The duo are among seven gallopers entered by Hall of Famer Lloyd Williams and his private trainer Liam Howley with Group 1 winners Johannes Vermeer and Homesman joining them in The All-Star Mile entries.

Flemington will hold the All Star Mile, picture ThoroughbredNEWS

Racing Victoria’s (RV) Executive General Manager – Racing, Greg Carpenter, believes the stable’s septet of nominees strengthens the varied mix of entries which the inaugural running of The All-Star Mile has attracted thus far.

“We’ve now got Melbourne Cup winners joining Oaks and Derby winners, star milers, dominant sprinters and an array of exciting three-year-olds among the entries for The All-Star Mile. It’s a unique mix of horses and it will be fascinating to see how the public decides to vote,” Carpenter said.

“Whilst the Williams stable are best known for the great performances of their stayers, they do have a terrific record with horses over shorter trips in the autumn so I would expect any of their entries to be very competitive if selected.

“There’s no doubt it would be an intriguing contest to see great stayers such as Rekindling and Almandin square off against Group 1-winning sprinters like Vega Magic and Redkirk Warrior over the mile at Flemington. That’s the unique proposition of The All-Star Mile, it’s up to the public to decide who competes.

“We are delighted with the nominations we have received so far and, with just five days to go before the closure of entries at 12 noon next Tuesday, we look forward to finding out which other horses throw their hats into the ring for The All-Star Mile,” Carpenter added.                

Johannes Vermeer, formerly under the care of the world’s leading trainer Aidan O’Brien, has been placed in each of his three runs on Australian soil, which have all come at Group 1 level. The six-year-old son of Galileo, whose sole Group 1 win came over 1400m in France in 2015, was last seen on a racetrack when finishing runner-up behind Rekindling in the 2017 Melbourne Cup.

The 2018 Underwood Stakes (1800m) winner Homesman has also been enjoying a break having narrowly failed to double his tally of Group 1 wins in last October’s Stella Artois Caulfield Cup (2400m), where he finished a neck behind Best Solution.

Back-to-back Group 2 Zipping Classic (2400m) winner The Taj Mahal is another All-Star nominee from Macedon Lodge, with his fellow Irish imports Sir John Lavery and Douglas Macarthur – who were both also sired by leading stallion Galileo – completing the set.

Douglas Macarthur is yet to set foot on a racetrack in Australia, but the five-year-old boasts a Group 3 victory over Yucatan – who started favourite in last year’s Melbourne Cup – on his resumé.

Sir John Lavery has finished down the field in both his starts in Australia, most recently coming seventh behind Darren Weir’s Cliff’s Edge in the Group 2 Schweppes Crystal Mile (1600m) at Moonee Valley last October, but the five-year-old’s CV does include a Listed win over a mile in his native Ireland.

The All-Star Mile is the first race in Australia where fans will determine which horses gain a start, with each of the nominees eligible for a public vote.

The top 10 horses in the public vote, which commences on 21 January and concludes on 18 February, will secure a start in The All-Star Mile, with the remaining four places in the 14-horse field to be made up of wildcards issued by RV.

Nominations for The All-Star Mile close at 12 noon on 15 January, with the one-off entry fee of $500 (plus GST) donated to charity.