Urban Ruler, formerly trained in Victoria by Greg Eurell but now under the care of Chris Munce in Queensland, will kick of his All-Star Mile campaign in the Cascade Open Handicap (1350 metres), due off at Doomben (Brisbane) at 5pm on Saturday.
The five-year-old is raced by an 800-strong syndicate led by Shelley Hancox, who has a long-standing association with Munce dating back to the trainer’s former career as a jockey, with the pair combining to win the Group 1 Goodwood Handicap in 1996 with Sword.
“Shelley has stuck with me for a long time, and since I have taken up training she has given me a few good horses,” said Munce.
“Urban Ruler might not be in the same class as some of the other horses in The All-Star Mile, but he’s a really nice type and if he gets a start in the race, he certainly won’t disgrace himself.
“He did most of his racing in Victoria, so we know he will handle the Melbourne way of going. We’re realistic about his chances, but whatever happens it will be a great day out for his big group of owners.
“He had an easy trial at Doomben recently, and I will probably get one more run into him before we head south to Melbourne.”
In South Australia, another horse who has enjoyed a recent surge in popularity, the Ryan Balfour-trained Balf’s Choice, will also step out on Saturday in the Holdfast Insurance Handicap at Morphettville (Adelaide) over the All-Star Mile distance of 1600m.
At the start of the week, Balf’s Choice – who is named in memory of Balfour’s father, David – was well outside the all-important top 10 in the polls, but South Australian racing fans have since rallied round the six-year-old, who now sits in seventh* place with more than 3,200* votes to his name.
On Sunday, one of the biggest meetings on Tasmania’s racing calendar, TAB Hobart Cup Day, will feature both of the Apple Isle’s All-Star Mile contenders.
Scott Brunton’s grand old warrior Hellova Street and the Adam Trinder-trained filly Mystic Journey, who made a scintillating return to action in Launceston last month, will clash in the Listed Magic Millions Thomas Lyons (1400 metres) at 2.55pm.
With five All-Star Mile nominees – including Team Hawkes’ unbeaten colt Brutal – lining up at Warwick Farm (Sydney) on Saturday and a plethora of leading contenders in action at Caufield on C.F. Orr Stakes Family Day, this could prove a critical weekend in determining the make-up of the final field for the world’s richest mile race, which will take place at Flemington on Saturday, 16 March.
Any customers who cast their vote at the website
will automatically receive a 50 per cent discount on their ticket to The All-Star Mile.
* Figures correct at the time of publication.