By Russell Bennett
Just 2313 votes – that was the difference between Pakenham’s own Mr Quickie getting a guaranteed start in the $5 million All-Star Mile next month, or having to rely on a wildcard berth.
The first Group 1 winner to be trained out of Sportsbet Pakenham, the Phillip Stokes gelding made a late charge to claim the 10th and final guaranteed start after a frenetic final 48 hours of voting.
The 10 highest vote-getters receive automatic entry into the race, and of the 10 horses voted in this year, only Mr Quickie has previously contested an All-Star Mile race.
He ran ninth in the 2020 running of the race at Caulfield, beaten by just over three-and-a-half lengths by Regal Power after finishing seventh in the public voting.
This time around, the third running of the world’s richest mile race will take place at Moonee Valley.
Mr Quickie finished with 6168 public votes, just 2313 ahead of the Kris Lees-trained Mugatoo.
A record 147,830 validated votes were received for this year’s All-Star Mile, up from 135,097 last year, and 139,427 for the inaugural running of the race in 2019.
South Australian star Arcadia Queen topped this year’s vote-getters with 15,105 votes, from Behemoth (14,699) and Kiwi mare Probabeel (14,503).
The winners of this year’s race on 13 March will walk away with a cool $2.25 million.
Mr Quickie rapidly built up a booming following throughout Gippsland and the south-east last year as he prepared for his first crack at the big race.
Whole communities, cities, and even states rally behind horses from across Australia and New Zealand in the race to secure a sport in the final field for the 1600-metre showdown.
Last year, in a huge boost to the Mr Quickie campaign, legendary hoop Damien Oliver took the ride for the event.
In-demand star Jamie Kah piloted Mr Quickie to third in the Futurity Stakes at Caulfield on Saturday, behind Probabeel and Arcadia Queen but ahead of the likes of Behemoth.
Greg Carpenter, Racing Victoria’s executive general manager of racing, said recently: “We are absolutely delighted with the record voting numbers for The All-Star Mile 2021. People from all walks of life, from casual sports fans to hardened racing enthusiasts, have really embraced the race and it is also very satisfying to see horses from every state of Australia and New Zealand represented in the top 10 this year.
“It seems that the public’s voting habits are changing, with many people now waiting until the final weekend of voting to make their selections and give both themselves and their chosen horse the best possible chance of winning at The Valley.
“We expected the likes of Arcadia Queen, Behemoth, Probabeel, Russian Camelot, Sir Dragonet and even The Harrovian to prove popular with the voting public, but what we perhaps didn’t anticipate was that the story of Still A Star would gain such traction in Tasmania and that Adelaide’s proud Italian community would rally round Regalo Di Gaetano in such great numbers.”
The top 10 vote-getters for this year’s All-Star Mile are:
1. Arcadia Queen (WA, Grant and Alana Williams) – 15,105 votes
2. Behemoth (SA, David Jolly) – 14,699
3. Probabeel (NZ, Jamie Richards) – 14,503
4. Still A Star (TAS, Bill Ryan) – 9,954
5. Greysful Glamour (NSW, Mark Newnham) – 9,821
6. Russian Camelot (VIC, Danny O’Brien) – 8,460
7. Regalo Di Gaetano (SA, Richard and Chantelle Jolly) – 8,168
8. The Harrovian (QLD, Toby and Trent Edmonds) – 7,535
9. Sir Dragonet (VIC, Ciaron Maher and David Eustace) – 6,335
10. Mr Quickie (VIC, Phillip Stokes) – 6,168