Mr Brightside ‘no good thing’ in $3.7 million All-Star Mile

Every Thursday, News Corp Australia’s national racing editor Matt Williams and senior racing writer Ben Dorries chat all things horse racing.

Matty and Benny have thrown around some ideas around the All-Star Mile.

MW: Benny, everyone knows the All-Star Mile concept is on life support. It’s in its sixth year and should be bigger than Ben Hur, but it’s not. This year’s field doesn’t do a great deal for punters’ excitement levels, but it’s been hit with some bad luck in the past two years. In saying that, scrap it and introduce a 10-horse weight-for-age slot race over 1400m. Get the 10 best sprinter-milers in the land — at $500,000 a slot — and Racing Victoria tips in $5 million to make it a $10 million race. Give it a fancy new name, and run it at Flemington in the autumn every year. Quality over quantity. 1400m would open the race up to a stack more superstar horses (imagine Mr Brightside and Pride Of Jenni vs Imperatriz, Fangirl, Think About It, I Wish I Win etc). You’d almost guarantee a real “all star” race every year at 1400m. Ten horses racing for $10 million has a ring to it, and it’d be Victoria’s first $10 million race. It’s a similar concept to The Everest, but who cares. It works. What would you do?

BD: I’d send it the way of the Dodo Bird in 2025. You can have all the flash innovations and clever thinking you want, but the All-Star Mile is pretty much cooked. It’s a shame because it had flashes of brilliance. I enjoyed the theatre in 2021 when Mugatoo downed Russian Camelot. I’d save the $4m (some say it has been closer to $7m with marketing) and divert it to the spring carnival. Spring has many more eyeballs on it than autumn so let’s leave autumn as it is and try to beef-up Victoria’s biggest and best product when many more people are watching. Peter V’landys and his crew have reinvented Sydney’s spring carnival so racing administrators in Victoria should fight fire with fire. They should launch some new products in spring with the help of an extra war chest from the shelved All-Star Mile.

Sportsbet C.F. Orr Stakes

Mr Brightside (left) beats Pride Of Jenni (right) in the CF Orr Stakes,

MW: With the Melbourne Cup, Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate already, the Melbourne spring carnival doesn’t need any more banner races. I’m keen to hear what our readers would do, so leave a comment below. On Saturday’s race itself, the barrier draw has made it a lot more interesting. No matter what people say, barrier 11 isn’t ideal for Mr Brightside. There’s a strong chance he could be posted three wide. Pride Of Jenni and Buffalo River will make it a speed and endurance test. There are a few horses who’ll want to settle in positions 3-8, and the other jockeys will want to keep Mr Brightside wide. He’s clearly the one to beat, but do I want to take $1.80 given his barrier? No. He’s far from a good thing. Last time they met over a mile, Pride Of Jenni ran Mr Brightside off his legs and he couldn’t catch her. Could history repeat? Of course. Cascadian will love the strong tempo and he can be the blowout finishing over the top.

BD: Seriously, mate, you sound like Brian Taylor trying to hype up the last five minutes of an AFL game when one side is leading by 10 goals. If Mr Brightside and Pride Of Jenni don’t run the quinella here, I’ll go swimming with sharks without a cage at Sea World. They have lengths on their opposition. It’s a two-horse race. There is some intrigue as to whether Pride Of Jenni can topple Mr Brightside. I’m happy to say she can. Those two Group 1s on the bounce in the spring were brilliant and she kept fighting like a caged lion in the Orr. Back Pride Of Jenni, with a bigger bet on the quinella with Mr B. Easy.

MW: Wow. There will be plenty hoping they don’t run the quinella now, just so you can be shark bait. Last Saturday was another great reminder how important weights and barriers are. Imperatriz couldn’t get the job done with 58kg. Think About It and Private Eye drew 7 of 7 in their respective races, and while both rides were terrible, the barriers meant Sam Clipperton and Nash Rawiller were dictated to, and settled last in the early stages.

BD: Imperatriz had clear excuses with the weight, and she pulled up with an issue too. Having said that, I thought she’d win so I’ve got egg on my face. It’s not the first time, and won’t be the last. I guess the results on the weekend show you why most bookies like in flash waterfront mansions while you and I live on bread and drippings.

Sydney Racing

Zougotcha beats Lady Laguna at Rosehill.

MW: So, the weight’s an excuse after the race? Righto! At Rosehill, the Group 1 Coolmore Classic headlines a great day of racing. As always, it’s an extremely tough race. Zougotcha towelled up Lady Laguna last start carrying 3kg more than her, and she came out and beat Think About It and Espiona at weight-for-age Group 1 level last week, so her form lines are very strong. She’s giving a fair bit of weight to some other horses, but barrier 2 and J-Mac helps offset that. Down in the weights at a price, More Secrets (51½kg) can run a race.

BD: I’ve got literally no idea where to turn in this. If you want one at odds, I didn’t mind the first-up run of Madame Pommery — one of Waller’s four in the Coolmore. She’ll enjoy the extra distance, although the wide barrier isn’t ideal. She hasn’t won since scoring the Group 1 Thousand Guineas in 2022 but she’s generally raced at a high level. I’ve seen far worse $31 shots.

MW: In the other races, I’m keen on Democracy Manifest in the Ajax Stakes — not just because I love succulent Chinese food. He went around for fun first-up, and second-up last preparation he destroyed them at Newcastle. Out to 1500m with J-Mac on from a nice gate, he shouldn’t get too far back and be able to round them up. In the Sky High Stakes, I can’t believe Just Fine was $2.50 in the all-in markets. He’s had two runs at WFA level, and been beaten out of sight both times. He could well be the most overrated (and under-priced) horse in Australia. Lindermann should smash them.

BD: I’ll be watching Chris Waller’s filly Mare Of Mt Buller very closely in the Phar Lap Stakes. I’m really keen on her in the Oaks (where she’s a $15 shot) and she’s not out of this on Saturday at $17. I suspect she’ll just be warming up at the end but she’s a winner so it wouldn’t be the shock of the century if she won.

MW: Saturday is a great entree to next week where we’ve got six Group 1s — five at Rosehill, headlined by what will be a classic Golden Slipper, and the William Reid Stakes at The Valley. Giddy up!

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