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Opinion

My thoughts on the 2021 All-Star Mile

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Roar Guru
9th March, 2021
12

The All-Star Mile, to be run on Saturday, 13 March at Moonee Valley, is a unique race where fans pick of ten of the 15 horses to run, with five slots reserved for wildcard entries.

As a weight for age (WFA) race with a total prize money of $5 million, the 2021 version will attract its best field yet, with five horses having finished in the first seven in the 2020 Cox Plate, currently Australia’s top WFA race.

They include the winner, Sir Dragonet, third place Russian Camelot, fourth place Mugatoo, fifth place Arcadia Queen, and seventh place Probabeel.

With the rest of the field including horses that have performed well at the Group 1 WFA level, including Streets of Avalon, Behemoth and Star of the Seas, the race will probably be the best quality WFA mile to be run this year.

Like most races with big fields, luck will play a part, especially on a track with a short home-straight of 173 metres, albeit with two 400-metre straights from the 1600-1200m and from the 800-400m.

One only has to note Fifty Stars, the heavily backed favourite in last Saturday’s Australian Cup, with his co-trainer Ben Hayes noting, “Drawing barrier 3 hurt our chances, if he had the ability to get into the clear he and build momentum it would have been a different story, but we were four back the fence coming into the straight behind a wall of horses.”

That is racing. There is never such thing as a certainty.

While I thought Five Stars was a standout last week, I lost my money, yet the week before my main bet of the day, Star of the Seas, had no trouble getting a clear run to win the Blamey Stakes over 1600m.

Nevertheless, I am backing three horses to win the All-Star Mile: Probabeel, Arcadia Queen and Russian Camelot.

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Probabeel has drawn barrier 10 and has the speed to take up a forward position without spending too much juice in a race where noted leaders are lacking.

In a slowly run race, Probabeel has the speed to sprint home as good as anything in the race from a forward position or from the back, assuming a clear run.

In a fast-run race, Probabeel has proven form at 1600m, running a blistering 1.32.86 at Randwick last October when winning the Group 1 Epsom Handicap after drawing barrier 15 and being caught wide for most of the race before finding plenty in the straight to defeat top horse Funstar by a length.

The mare has also won three of nine (four seconds) on slow tracks, although she prefers the dry.

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I also expect Probabeel to be handier in the run than Arcadia Queen (barrier 5).

In the recent WFA Futurity Stakes on February 20, Probabeel (first) and Arcadia Queen (second) came from well back to easily defeat the opposition over 1400m, yet Probabeel had no choice but to go back given the short run to the first turn at Caulfield, after drawing the outside barrier in a nine-horse field, as was also the case for Arcadia Queen who drew eight.

Arcadia Queen may have to give Probabeel a bigger start this time, as the longer initial straight at Moonee Valley will give Probabeel more time to assume a forward position at a comfortable cruising speed.

A possible greater margin in the run between them may offset Arcadia Queen’s advantage in terms of higher closing speed.

In the Futurity Stakes, with Probabeel running seventh and Arcadia Queen ninth with 600m to go, both ran 11.34 from the 600m to 400m before Arcadia Queen shaded Probabeel from the 400m to 200m (11.17 to 11.23), and from the 200m to the finish post (11.95 to 12.01).

On a dry track, Arcadia Queen appeared to have the measure of Russian Camelot in the 2020 Caulfield (Ned) Stakes over 2000m, two weeks before the Cox Plate.

Off a slow early pace for the first 1000m, while both ran 12.09 from the 1000m to 800m, Arcadia Queen shaded Russian Camelot from the 800m to 600m (11.69 to 11.72), 600m to 400m (11.23 to 11.31), 400m to 200m (11.00 to 11.20), and the last 200m (11.43 to 11.69).

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However, on a slow track, Russian Camelot accounted for Arcadia Queen by about two lengths in the Group1 1800m Underwood Stakes in September 2020, before again beating her home in the Cox plate in October 2020 – albeit Arcadia Queen came from 12th at the 800m after stumbling badly, before finding her feet again.

Of course, Russian Camelot (barrier 2) remains an unknown quantity this season and may have matured considerably given the horse will only turn four on 29 March 2021. One will only find out on Saturday.

But I am backing Probabeel with smaller bets on Arcadia Queen and Russian Camelot to make a profit or at least cover my bets.

Good luck punters.

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