Flemington stages the inaugural $5 million All-Star Mile when the selected 14-horse line up make history on Saturday.
Happy Clapper, Hartnell, Alizee and Mystic Journey are among the field, which was selected by public vote and supplemented with wildcards.
Who will go down in history as the first-ever winner of the All-Star Mile?
1. HAPPY CLAPPER ($5.01): He was outstanding in the Group 1 Chipping Norton (1600m) behind Winx last start and deserves to be right in the market here. Although he has never won in Melbourne, he has either run well or come to the end of his preparations. His three starts at Flemington have included a terrific second in the Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) behind Tosen Stardom in 2017 and a fifth, despite bleeding in the Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) last year. The big unknown is, that run in the Chipping Norton was a gut-buster and he wouldn’t be the first horse to race flat after giving Winx a race.
2. HARTNELL ($10.10): The eight-year-old war horse Hartnell has gained a wildcard entry into the All-Star Mile. He was good without being great, running third in the Group 1 Futurity Stakes (1400m) behind Alizee last start. Third-up last preparation he won the Epsom Handicap (1600m) defeating D’Argento and Unforgotten. I don’t think Hartnell has the brilliance as an eight-year-old to loop the field and sprint past the likes of Alizee and Mystic Journey. From barrier two, he will need to avoid the slow ones coming back in his face, weaving a passage through the field will be his best winning chance.
11. ALIZEE ($3.60): Alizee is making her case to be the second-best horse in Australia, having won impressively first-up before dominating the likes of Le Romain, Trapeze Artist and Hartnell in the Group 2 Expressway Stakes (1200m). She was three-wide no cover last start in the Futurity Stakes (1400m) but I thought it was a terrific ride from Hugh Bowman. My small knock on her, is she is yet to prove she is as effective off a very fast early tempo but she has obviously gone to a new level this preparation. From barrier 12 and a predicted solid early speed, she can get back with cover and should love the big open spaces of Flemington. I think she deserves to be favourite but the race doesn’t look a mere formality, as it did a month ago.
12. HAWKSHOT ($11.10): The final wildcard in the All-Star Mile was controversially given to ‘rising star’ Hawkshot, who ran well behind Mystic Journey in the Australian Guineas. He looks the speed in the race and is likely to run the field along. Although he could improve, I can’t see him turning the tables on Mystic Journey.
13. MYSTIC JOURNEY ($3.91): Mystic Journey is a special filly. I keep going back to her win on Cox Plate Day when she was three-wide the trip on a day where only Winx won three or more horses off the fence. She deadset belted Fundamentalist who went so close to beating The Autumn Sun in a Group 1 last Saturday. She was ridden out of her comfort zone in the Australian Guineas but it was necessary to win the race, she ducked back towards the inside at the 350m and bolted through to beat Hawkshot and Amphitrite easily.I love barrier 16, as she will get back and blend into the race with the likes of Alizee, avoiding the slower horses. She is a huge chance.
14. AMPHITRITE ($11.10): Amphitrite has gone forward from good barriers in two runs this preparation but I would assume Craig Williams will go back from barrier 14. The last time she was ridden cold, she produced her booming finish to nab Fundamentalist in the Thousand Guineas. I thought she had every possible chance in the Australian Guineas but I’m struggling to see how she could turn the tables on Mystic Journey and to a lesser extent, Hawkshot.
We can somewhat line the form up between favourites Alizee and Mystic Journey through their 1400m runs at Caulfield.
Mystic Journey won the Jim Moloney Stakes (1400m) in 1:23.33 on the same day Jungle Cat won the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) in 1:22.31. Jungle Cat defeated Land Of Plenty by a half-head, yet Alizee ran 1:22.48 and beat Land Of Plenty by a length.
So that suggests Alizee’s performance over 1400m rates six lengths above Mystic Journey. She looks ready to show her best fourth-up, and if Hugh Bowman can secure a soft run in transit, she can finish off best and make it four in a row this campaign.
Happy Clapper would normally be the danger to Alizee – but I just can’t get over that extremely tough run last start that may have flattened him.
2. Mystic Journey
3. Happy Clapper