Attention turns to Sydney as All-Star Mile voting heats up
Seppelt Wines All-Star Mile nominees trained north of the border will get their chance to impress voters this weekend, with no fewer than seven contenders in action at Saturday’s Royal Randwick meeting.
Australia’s leading trainer Chris Waller will send four members of his 15-strong army of All-Star Mile aspirants – Ranch Hand, Mana Nui, Coastwatch and Giannis – to Randwick, where they will line up in the Group 3 Eskimo Prince Stakes (1200m).
Of the quality quartet the market favours Ranch Hand (ridden by James McDonald), whose last win came in September 2021 in the Listed Poseidon Stakes (1100m) at Flemington, which will host the fourth edition of the world’s richest mile race on Saturday, 19 March 2022.
Interestingly, Mana Nui is set to be ridden by Jamie Kah, who will use her Sydney expedition to audition for the role of Zaaki’s rider in The 2022 All-Star Mile when she takes Annabel Neasham’s three-time Group 1 winner – who is firmly entrenched in the top three in voting - for a track gallop on Saturday morning.
The other All-Star Mile hopefuls lining up in the Eskimo Prince Stakes are both Group 1 winners, with Converge (co-trained by Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott) and Captivant (Peter and Paul Snowden) hoping to catch the eye of All-Star Mile voters with impressive performances.
John Thompson’s Purple Sector – who also has a Flemington win on his CV having prevailed on Lexus Melbourne Cup Day in 2020 – will compete in the final race of the day at Randwick.
Earlier in the day, a trio of Port Adelaide Football Club players – including reigning Brownlow Medallist Ollie Wines – will take a keen interest in the opening race at Morphettville, which features Not Usual Glorious.
Wines and his team-mates Darcy Byrne-Jones and Tom Clurey are part-owners of the five-year-old gelding together with former Port Adelaide midfielder Tom Rockliff, who kicked 100 career goals before injury brought a premature end to his career last year.
The ninth and final All-Star Mile nominee in action this weekend is Axe, prepared on Queensland’s Gold Coast by young trainer Michael Costa. The son of Written Tycoon, who finished two-and-a-half lengths behind Eleven Eleven in the $1m Magic Millions Cup (1400m) at his last start, will chase a seventh career win in the Open Handicap (1200m) at Doomben.
The $5 million Seppelt Wines All-Star Mile is Australia’s only race where the fans help determine the field through a public vote. Voting continues through until 11.59pm (AEDT) on Sunday, 13 February 2022 at www.allstarmile.com.au.
Image caption: Rach Hand at Flemington (Credit: Racing Photos)