The sudden retirement of star Kiwi mare Probabeel has thrown a spanner in the works, as the announcement of the mare’s career-ending injury came less than an hour before the top 10 horses for the All-Star Mile field were to be revealed.
“We had to be a little bit agile and nimble this afternoon. We were all set to announce the top 10 when we got the news that unfortunately Probabeel, the champion mare from New Zealand had been retired,” Racing Victoria’s Executive General Manager of Racing, Greg Carpenter, told Racing.com.
The four-time Group 1 winner was to have been part of the top 10. Instead, the Robbie Griffiths & Mathew de Kock-trained gelding King Magnus has been granted a spot in the $5 million event, which is to be run at Flemington on March 19.
The Peter Moody-trained colt Lightsaber was the galloper to just miss out, being 11th on the list after voting was closed.
Horses who missed out on a place inside the top 10, most notably Cascadian, Tofane, Icebath, and Colette, will still have a chance to run in the richest mile race in the world, as five wildcards will complete the final field of 15. The winners of the Group 1 Futurity Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on February 26 and the Group 2 Blamey Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on March 5 will each be offered a place in the race, while the last three remaining spots in the field will be decided by Racing Victoria and the VRC.
If any of the horses named in the top 10 withdraw from the All-Star Mile, a replacement will be decided by finding the horse from a list of emergencies that has earned the highest amount of prizemoney since February 1 last year. The Godolphin-trained galloper Cascadian is the horse that sits next in line if there is a withdrawal.
There has been some doubt as to whether the top vote getter, Verry Elleegant, will take her place in the race, as her trainer Chris Waller has previously indicated that she is likely to stay in Sydney.
Sportsbet.com.au has installed I’m Thunderstruck, who is looking to become the first Victorian horse to win the race, and Sydney galloper Zaaki as equal favourites at $4.40. The promising Waller-trained filly Espiona is next in betting at $7, with stablemate and Melbourne Cup-winning mare Verry Elleegant at $10.
Top 10 All-Star Mile vote getters
- Verry Elleegant (NSW) (Chris Waller) – 17,112 votes
- I’m Thunderstruck (VIC) (Mick Price & Michael Kent Jnr) – 15,974 votes
- Zaaki (NSW) (Annabel Neasham) – 15,477 votes
- Regalo Di Gaetano (SA) (Richard & Chantelle Jolly) – 8,610 votes
- Mr Brightside (VIC) (Ben & JD Hayes) – 6,316 votes
- Behemoth (SA) (David Jolly) – 6,222 votes
- Espiona (NSW) (Chris Waller) – 6,123 votes
- Elephant (NZ) (David & Emma-Lee Browne) – 5,141 votes
- Lighthouse (VIC) (Ciaron Maher & David Eustace) – 3,862 votes
- King Magnus (VIC) (Robbie Griffiths & Mathew de Kock) – 3,786 votes