VRC's quality concerns as All-Star vote nears end

4 min read

By Bren O'Brien

With All-Star Mile voting set to go into blackout mode on Friday ahead of the polls closing next Monday, the VRC has conceded there is a degree of concern about lowly rated horsed dominating the leaderboard.

The $5m race will be made up of ten horses popularly elected by the public, with four 'wildcards' then chosen to make up the field for the inaugural race at Flemington on March 16.

As things stand as of 4pm Wednesday, G1 Caulfield Guineas winner The Autumn Sun (Redoute's Choice) leads the way with over 8500 votes, but the colt is highly unlikely to contest the race, with a Sydney-only campaign on the agenda.

But it is not the fact that a doubtful runner is leading the vote count that concerns VRC chairman Amanda Elliott. Her worry is the impact on the quality of the field, with several lowly-rated runners currently inside the top 10.

The current All-Star leaderboard

Urban Ruler (Street Boss {USA}) is currently clear second on the voting count, despite the fact he is rated 77 and hasn’t won a race in well over two years.

Helped by the fact he has over 800 owners and aided by a strong social media campaign, the 5-year-old has led the count most of the way, and has only been surpassed by The Autumn Sun in the past few days.

With 4300 votes more than the horse currently placed 11th, he is all but guaranteed a spot in the field, with a minimum of $90,000 prizemoney paid for every horse that makes the race.

My Money Bags (Written Tycoon), rated 83, also looks destined to claim one of the ten spots. He is currently seventh, while Man Of His Word (Lope De Vega{Ire}), rated 91, is currently fifth.

Foundry (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), who hasn’t raced in 16 months, is currently placed ninth.

Elliott said that while the popularity aspect of the race was great promotion, she feels that a review is needed into the minimum rating of 70 for the race in forthcoming years.

VRC Chairman, Amanda Elliott

"I think that it would be fair to say that the rating of 70 has probably shone a light on what could be a problem," Elliott told RSN.

"You know it's the first year, it's a very interesting concept, it's a popular concept and we need to tweak it probably and I think that will be done hopefully, probably in a horse rating sense and probably should be."

"I think that it would be fair to say that the rating of 70 has probably shone a light on what could be a problem." - Amanda Elliott

"I mean if you're going to commit $15 million of industry money over three years you want to be pretty sure that you're going to get it right."

"Obviously we're very excited, the first iteration of this is at Flemington and we've got all sorts of plans that are going to be very exciting for that."

"But the race itself is pretty important particularly for $5 million dollars and spruiking it you know obviously as the richest mile race on turf, we'd want to make pretty sure that it reaches some fairly good levels."

The race will rotate between Flemington, Caulfield and Moonee Valley over the coming three years.

The current top ten contains just four Group 1 winners with the Autumn Sun joined by Grunt (NZ) (O'Reilly) (third), Alizee (Sepoy) (sixth) and Extra Brut (Domesday)(tenth).

G1 winner Grunt is currently third in the betting

Outside the top ten are Group 1 winners such as Amphitrite (Sebring), Land of Plenty (Stratum), Happy Clapper (Teofilo {Ire}), Redkirk Warrior (GB) (Notnowcatro {GB}), Hartnell (GB) (Authorized {Ire}) and Le Romain (Hard Spun {USA}).

Significantly, just one of the top 15 prizemoney earners among the nominations, The Autumn Sun, is currently in line for a start.

The voting will go behind closed doors on Friday at 12pm, with the final three days held in camera in order to build the suspense.

Voting closes at 12pm next Monday (18th) with the top vote getters announced on Thursday February 21st. The four wildcard horses will be announced on March 4.

The All-Star Mile concept is based on the popular Arima Kinen in Japan, which last year attracted over 1.5m votes.