Nominations for the participants of Australia’s upcoming All Star Mile 2022 have been open since last week. Already, owners of prominent steeds have been calling on their fans to show their support as they make their bid to earn the right to participate. The voting phase and the actual race stand between them and the grand prize.
Touted as ‘a race like no other,’ the All Star Mile is known for letting the public determine the star racers to take part in the race. It’s also the most lucrative mile race worldwide, with a total prize pool of AUD$5 million. Fifteen horses will run––ten decided by popular vote and five via wildcard.
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So, as Australia counts down to All Star Mile 2022, here’s an intro on the race and its origins. As it turns out, it didn’t start that long ago.
The upcoming race on March 19, 2022, at Flemington Racecourse, will only be the fourth All Star Mile race. Its inaugural race was held on March 16, 2019, also at Flemington, where filly Mystic Journey was its first winner (more on the winners later).
Racing Victoria, the organizing body, carries a vision for people to be at the heart of the sport: ‘racing for all.’ It wants fans to be just as involved and invested in thoroughbred horseracing as the punters and owners.
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But to do this, they looked for inspiration elsewhere, beyond Australian horseracing if necessary.
It found one in Japan, specifically the 65-year-old Arima Kinen. With total attendance averaging around 120,000 and wagering by the hundreds of millions, the Arima Kinen is the biggest betting race in the realm of horseracing. Its founder, Yoriyasu Arima, got the idea to have fans vote for their horses from all-star baseball, another popular sport in Japan.
The All Star Mile became a reality with the support of three prominent racing clubs in Victoria: the Melbourne Racing Club, the Moonee Valley Racing Club, and the Victoria Racing Club. The first race also marked the first time in Australian horseracing that a race would rotate every year among three tracks: Flemington, Caufield, and The Valley.
Starting in 2020, the organizers introduced changes to the event to invite even more people to participate. Some of these changes include:
- People from New Zealand are now allowed to vote
- The number of starters has increased from 14 to 15
- The handicap for horses four years old and above has increased from 70 to 80
- Winners of Futurity Stakes and Blamey Stakes are guaranteed a slot in the race
Despite having held only three races, the All Star Mile has yielded some interesting champions. Here are the thoroughbreds that have made history in this event:
- Mystic Journey (2019, Flemington)
Only three years old when she won the inaugural race, Mystic Journey is the youngest to win the All Star Mile so far. Her handlers wouldn’t have guessed that the thoroughbred they paid AUD$11,000 for would make them millions richer.
More than just being profitable to her handlers and bettors, Mystic Journey brought honor to the Tasmanian horseracing scene. She and Still A Star, another steed, set the bar for the local breeding, though one has yet to reach their level. She would end her racing days with a stellar record of twelve first-place wins, five second-places, and one third-place.
- Regal Power (2020, Caufield)
The jockey that led this thoroughbred to victory admitted that he encountered a dilemma before the race. He had to choose between riding Regal Power and Superstorm. After a simple coin toss, he opted for the former.
Also inadvertently contributing to the victory is the decision for Fifty Stars to skip the year’s All Star Mile. Regal Power placed second against this thoroughbred in the Australian Cup, so the lack of a dangerous contender allowed her to start strong.
- Mugatoo (2021, The Valley)
The pandemic didn’t stop the All Star Mile from reaching a record-high turnover of almost AUD$18 million. In this auspicious race, Mugatoo won not only the biggest All Star Mile to date but also the biggest race of its entire career.
The victory didn’t come easily, as rain during the event turned the track into a Soft 7. The finish came close against Russian Camelot down the final hundred metres.
Who’ll be the fourth? The All Star Mile can still get bigger and better from this point on. With fans dictating which steed will run the 1,600-metre course, the hype buildup as early as the nomination phase is understandable. Whichever horse becomes the fourth champion will leave a lasting legacy.