Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Mystic Magic – All Star Mile Review

Mystic Journey wins the inaugural All Star Mile from Hartnell & Alizee

Though the supporting race card was somewhat uninteresting, it was worth all the trouble of getting to Flemington via public transport for the first running of the All Star Mile.

As the papers have said, it was one of those fairytale results, where the bargain basement Tasmanian trained filly Mystic Journey blitzed the All Star Mile field and earned her connections over $2 million in prize money.

I have personally witnessed Mystic Journey racing four times for four wins, firstly on 22 September 2018 at Caulfield, where she won a listed race at big odds, then at Moonee Valley on Cox Plate day when she won the Group 2 Fillies Classic, beating Fundamentalist who recently narrowly lost to The Autumn Sun.  Then of course I saw her win the Australian Guineas earlier this month.

She is certainly a special filly, whom I thought had a really good chance to take out the All Star Mile.
I reached Flemington at around 1.20 pm after a long bus ride from Ivanhoe to Queen Street, then a walk to Spencer Street to catch a train to Flemington Racecourse.

Race 2 was in progress as I made my way up the public lawn to stow my step behind the rose hedge near the access gate.  When passing through security at the railway entrance I thought for a moment that I would not be permitted to take the step inside, but eventually was waved through after the security guard checked with another guard who had no issue with it.

With the inner rail being out 7 metres, it would have been impossible to get good rail free photos without the step.

One of my aims for the day was to get Tony McEvoy’s signature on Sunlight’s name in the Coolmore Stud Stakes and Newmarket Stakes racebooks. I’d also taken along the Australian Guineas racebook on the off chance I could get Mystic Journey’s trainer Adam Trinder’s signature.

I therefore hung around in the stalls area for a fair while and missed both race 3 and race 4.

Mystic Journey  arrived whilst I was waiting, so I managed to get a blinkers free photo of her in her stall.

Mystic Journey

Note that in the above photo she is wearing a green bridle. Shortly after this photo was taken she was moved to another area close by and emerged with a red bridle.  Adam Trinder was with her so I attracted his attention and he signed my copy of the Australian Guineas racebook. He was pretty amazed to be asked and actually thanked me.  A pity I didn’t get his signature on the All Star Mile racebook, but I didn’t want to jinx Mystic Journey by presumption of victory.

Tony McEvoy didn’t show up in the stalls area, so I gave up on his signature and returned track side for the rest of the afternoon.

Race 5 was the Grand Classic Final, a race for 4 year olds and up over 2000 metres.

Wetakemanhattan won the race from Dark Pearl and El Don.

Grand Classic Final finish

Wetakemanhattan on his way to the barriers

Dark Pearl on his way to the barriers

More photography practice was afforded by Race 6, the Grand Mile Final, also a pretty open race with a number of imported horses having their first start in Australia.

The locally bred Prometheus romped in to win by three lengths from race favourite Mr Reckless and Remember the Name.

Prometheus then daylight at the Grand Mile Final finish

Mr Reckless on his way to the barriers

The All Star Mile was scheduled to run at 5.10 pm as Race 8, so there was one more race to run before that happened.

This was the March Stakes and somewhat more interesting than the previous races.

Widgee Turf was the starting favourite and won by a short margin after fighting out the finish with Tasmanian trained Hellova Street and Streets of Avalon.

March Stakes finish – Widgee Turf,  Hellova Street & Streets of Avalon
cross the line together

Widgee Turf on his way to the barriers

Hellova Street returns to scale

Streets of Avalon on his way to the barriers

After the March Stakes I stowed my step and headed for the mounting yard, ostensibly to watch the Group 1 Coolmore Classic in Sydney on the big screen and also grab a rose free section on the mounting yard fence to photograph the All Star Mile runners parading.

I certainly wasn’t expecting the razzmatazz that ensued in the mounting yard before the runners arrived. And forget the screening of the Coolmore Classic, as the interim period was taken up with over the top pomp and circumstance in the form of drummers, flag bearers, dancers (in glittering leotards) accompanied by loud musical effects.


Flags & Dancers

Jockeys enter through a corridor of dancers



As previously mentioned it was excessive and over the top, but it made me laugh and I did get some good snaps.

The decks were cleared before the horses were brought to the mounting yard.


Mystic Journey



Le Romain

Happy Clapper

Back on the Western Lawn just past the winning post, I reassembled my step and found a low rose hedge point that gave me a good view of the post and straight. I had to move around a bit to avoid being blocked by the official photographers.

The All Star Mile as a race was up there with Group 1 class in terms of interest and excitement, with Hawkshot setting the pace and Le Romain and Grunt close behind him. Mystic Journey started from barrier 13 and raced mid field, three wide, for most of the trip, then took off at the 200 in pursuit of Alizee who had seized the lead. She sailed past her to win by 1.75 lengths. Evergreen Hartnell, who raced on the inside and was blocked for a run until the last minute, ran second. Alizee hung on for third.

The cream certainly rose to the top, the first six runners home being  Group 1 winners and the 200/1 chances all finished at the tail of the field.

Mystic Journey returns to scale

Hartnell on his way to the barriers

Alizee returns to scale

Mystic Journey has been sent for a spell, but will be back in Melbourne in spring where she will tackle the Cox Plate.  She has never raced beyond 1600 metres, but her breeding suggests she’ll have no trouble running 2000 + metres.

As the sun sets on the great Winx, who has only two more races to run, it’s thrilling that already there’s a potential heir apparent in the Tasmanian filly.

And so ended Melbourne’s autumn racing carnival. Last year I was underwhelmed by the carnival, but this year was a great improvement mostly due to the performances of the star three year old fillies Sunlight and Mystic Journey.

Next Saturday I will be in Sydney to witness Winx running her penultimate race in the George Ryder Stakes at Rosehill. There are five Group 1 races on the program, the Golden Slipper being the feature event, supported by the Ranvet Stakes, Rosehill Guineas, George Ryder Stakes and The Galaxy.

The final Group 1 of Melbourne’s autumn season is the William Reid Stakes at Moonee Valley on Friday night, where Sunlight will be aiming to add a third Group 1 win to her CV.

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