Homesman (Image: Racing Photos)
The All-Star Mile leaderboard goes in-camera on Friday night, but there is still an opportunity for racing fans to throw their support behind their favourite horse before Sunday's deadline.
Only the top 10 are guaranteed a berth in the $5 million race at The Valley on March 13 and below are six horses who, as of midday Friday, were not in the top 10, who could be a force if they found their way into the 1600-metre event.
MUGATOO (Kris Lees) - 12th position, 3159 votes (as of 12.30pm Friday): The Australian Bloodstock import has some work to do to force his way into the top 10 - he was more than 1800 votes astern of 10th-placed Mr Quickie on Friday morning - but he won't be short of admirers if he doesn't secure a spot. Quickly established a reputation as a potential Cups horse early last year, but it was interesting to see connections opt to head to the Cox Plate last spring and he was far from disgraced there. In fact, he was one of the runs of the 2040-metre race, looming as the winner at the 250m despite being trapped wide throughout. He beat home Arcadia Queen (who, it should be said, was also a tad unlucky) and she's All-Star Mile favourite.
CROSSHAVEN (Tom Dabernig/Ben Hayes) - 14th position, 2470 votes: Just like the Cox Plate being a more intriguing race with the presence of a three-year-old, The All-Star Mile also needs one. The lone 3YO in the first edition - Mystic Journey - won and last year Alligator Blood started favourite. None of the 3YOs coveting a spot in this year's race appear to be in the class of that duo, but Crosshaven has been one of the most consistent of his age group and was highly regarded enough to be sent out favourite against the older horses in the C.F. Orr Stakes (1400m), in which he finished third.
MYSTIC JOURNEY (Adam Trinder) - 16th position, 1646 votes: It'd be a hard sell convincing punters who have been on at her past two starts, when beaten at $1.10 and $1.20 in Tassie, that she's capable of toppling the big guns in the world's richest 1600-metre race. But, there's surely just a little bit in everyone that thinks she is capable of clicking before Grand Final Day? It was only three starts back she started heavily backed favourite in the Empire Rose Stakes, when luckless, which followed victory in the G2 Stocks Stakes, which was her second win from as many starts over 1600m at The Valley, the distance and venue of this year's ASM.
BUFFALO RIVER (Mike Moroney) - 20th position, 884 votes: Before last year's Spring Carnival, the import looked the type of horse voters might gravitate towards thanks to the fact he is a sprinter/miler who boasts a relentless front-running style that can be an advantage at The Valley. Spring got off to a bad start when he missed a start in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m), but he did run second in the Toorak Handicap - beating home all bar Mr Quickie, who sits inside the ASM top 10 - and while he flopped in the Cantala Stakes, he did log a couple of other minor placings. Has jumped out well ahead of his return to racing, which will occur in the Saturday's Seppelt Wines Plate (1400m) at Flemington.
HOMESMAN (Anthony and Sam Freedman) - 47th position, 102 votes: Places in the second half of the leaderboard just a few days out from voting closing are normally reserved for horses who either have no hope of winning, or are considered extremely unlikely to run. Homesman doesn't fit into either category. Yes, he'd probably start double-figure odds - he's $26 at the moment with Sportsbet - against Arcadia Queen, Probabeel etc…, but the thing that brings him into contention is his record at The Valley. He has three starts over 1600m at The Valley for a narrow defeat in the 2018 G2 Feehan Stakes, a thumping win in that race the following year and a similar dominant win in last year's G2 Crystal Mile. The two wins were first-up and that is how he will hit The All-Star Mile … if he gets in!
FUNSTAR (Chris Waller) - 48th position, 101 votes: Chris Waller said in a media release earlier this week that the daughter of Adelaide was the 'most likely of my stable to head to The All-Star Mile', so, considering her SP profile, it's a surprise to see her lagging. She's started $4.80 or shorter in 11 of her 13 starts, with her greatest SP $10, when second in last year's Epsom, narrowly beaten by arch-rival and leading ASM fancy Probabeel. Resumes in Saturday's Apollo Stakes at Randwick and victory there - combined with any sort of push from Waller that she was Melbourne-bound - would be enough to see the four-year-old rocket up the leaderboard. She certainly won't start $26 if she runs.