It's the inaugural All Star Mile Meeting at Flemington on Saturday and after much debate the race itself presents a terrific betting heat.
Of course there is a much-publicised long tail to the race, with plenty going to post with little to no chance of getting into the finish, but at the top end there is a clash of formlines and generations that an overcrowded calendar has made all too avoidable in recent years. How good to see the Guineas winner Mystic Journey take on the older generation rather than skip that clash in favour of beating up on the same crew she has already proven herself a cut above.
The All Star Mile does indeed provide a different challenge for Mystic Journey and the barrier draw has added to that for her. She is adaptable and versatile, and should get her chance, but she may have to do it the hard way and against some hard noses.
The hardest of those noses, and the horse that we think she be favourite for the race, is the grand old miler Happy Clapper who was as good as ever when forcing Winx to find a gear she so rarely has to find in the Chipping Norton last time.
Of course a regression from that peak could well be on the cards but it is worth noting that past dips from The Clapper following big mile peaks have come when stretching in trip. Remarkably Happy Clapper goes mile-to-mile for just the second time in his career - the other being when a typically strong second to Winx in the George Main was backed up with Epsom success in 2017. He's the one to beat.
The undercard is as deep and competitive as it gets. One at big odds that could be worth having something on is the Robbie Laing-trained Tatiara in race four.
It's an open fillies race, like so many on the card it's deep in chances, but we fancy that Tatiara is a sharp improver after running well from a tricky spot from the dreaded barrier one over the Sandown 1000m.
She is better suited over 1100m (perhaps further still) and has a few very competitive ratings for this - albeit without having been consistent.
We think she's just the type to pull out a peak when she's big odds and 25-1 looks a gamble worth having given that.
THE MELBOURNE MAIL
Bet Of The Day: Race 8 #1 Happy Clapper @ $5.50
Each Way Play: Race 4 #12 Tatiara @ $21.00
Happy Clapper, picture Sportpix.com.au