The Freedman Racing stable is aiming to launch a three-pronged attack on The All-Star Mile 2021 after nominating The Valley specialist Homesman, Irish import Kenya and exciting youngster Ain’tnodeeldun for Australia’s only fan-voted race.
Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Anthony Freedman and his son Sam are yet to have a runner in the world’s richest mile race, but with Homesman and Kenya both part-owned by Lloyd Williams and Ain’tnodeeldun running up a hat-trick of wins during the spring, the trio are likely to prove popular with the public when All-Star Mile voting opens on Friday, 22 January 2021.
Under its unique rotation policy, following visits to Flemington and Caulfield in 2019 and 2020 respectively, the third edition of the $5 million showpiece will be held on Saturday, 13 March 2021 at The Valley – a racetrack which in the past has proved a very happy hunting ground for Homesman.
The Group 1 winner has two wins and a runner-up finish from four career starts at The Valley, with his last appearance in the Group 2 Schweppes Crystal Mile (1600m) producing a comfortable victory. His other win at the same track and distance also came at Group 2 level in last year’s Ladbrokes Feehan Stakes, when the beaten brigade included his fellow All-Star Mile nominees Surprise Baby (fourth) and Fifty Stars (seventh).
With six wins – including the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) – and more than $2 million in career prizemoney, Homesman is already proven at the highest level but the $2.25 million cheque awarded to the winner of The All-Star Mile would see the seven-year-old more than double his earnings to date.
Given Homesman’s record at The Valley and his “iron constitution”, the stable’s Racing Manager Brad Taylor believes he deserves to take his place in the race.
“Homesman would have to be our number one seed for The All-Star Mile,” said Taylor.
“This race sets up perfectly for a horse like him. A mile at The Valley is tailor-made for Homesman, his record at The Valley speaks for itself so if people are voting for the horse they think has the best chance of winning the race, then he’d have to come into consideration.
“The All-Star Mile will be his main aim in the autumn, it’s a good concept and is worth an awful lot of money so if we can get him into the race and have a nice lead-up run, I think he’d have a great shot.”
Like Homesman, Kenya started his racing career in Ireland before being acquired by his current ownership group which, as well as Lloyd Williams and his son Nick, also includes Rip Curl founder Bryan Singer and music impresario Michael Gudinski.
Kenya’s debut appearance on Australian soil was perhaps a touch disappointing, as he finished down the field at Flemington in June; but on his return to action after a five-month spell he romped to victory by more than five lengths in the 2020 Neds Peninsula Cup (1600m) at Mornington.
On his next start, Kenya finished runner-up in the Group 3 Sandown Stakes (1500m) and, after a rest post-spring, the son of renowned stallion Galileo recently returned to pre-training ahead of his autumn campaign.
“Kenya’s first run over a mile was very good, albeit against fairly moderate opposition,” said Taylor.
“He then ran into a pretty good one in Junipal in the Sandown Stakes, he was also a bit keen that day but if he’d settled then I’m sure he would’ve finished much closer to the winner.
“He’s a free-rolling horse, when he gets out in front he can be hard to chase down, so we think a track like The Valley would probably suit him and we’re pretty confident he’d give a good account of himself if he got a run.”
In contrast to seasoned veterans Kenya and Homesman, Ain’tnodeeldun is just embarking on his racing career but the three-year-old colt has already made quite an impression after only seven starts.
Ain’tnodeeldun took five attempts to break his maiden, but the manner of that victory – by five lengths – spoke volumes of his talent and the son of New Zealand superstar Dundeel promptly confirmed he was a star on the rise with his subsequent victories at Morphettville (South Australia) and Flemington.
His most recent win came as the odds-on favourite in the Listed TAB Trophy (1800m) on AAMI Victoria Derby Day, after which he was sent to the paddock for a well-earned break.
“He’s a very exciting prospect, and the stable has a high opinion of him,” said Taylor.
“As he’s a colt, first and foremost we’ll be chasing a Group 1 win with him, so the Australian Guineas will be his main aim. But if he were to win that and pull up well from the race, then we’d obviously have to give serious consideration to running him in The All-Star Mile. Mystic Journey did the double last year, so we’re definitely keeping our options open with him by throwing in a nomination.”
Freedman Racing’s trio of well-credentialled gallopers join a stellar cast of All-Star Mile nominees, which include Group 1 winners Behemoth and Probabeel, trained respectively by South Australian David Jolly and Kiwi Jamie Richards.
Other notable names eyeing victory in the Festival of Racing’s marquee event include Probabeel’s stable companion Melody Belle, a winner of 12 Group 1 contests; Danny O’Brien’s boom colt Russian Camelot, unbeaten Kiwi three-year-old gelding Aegon, and recent Group 1 Kennedy Cantala (1600m) winner Yulong Prince.
As with the first two editions of The All-Star Mile, all funds raised through the nomination period – which ends on Monday, 11 January 2021 – will be donated to the race’s official charity, the Good Friday Appeal, which supports Melbourne’s renowned Royal Children’s Hospital.
The nominated horses will again rely on the general public to get them into the race, with the top 10 vote-getters – set to be unveiled by Racing Victoria on or before Friday, 19 February 2021 – guaranteed a start alongside five wildcard runners, determined through a combination of two ‘win and you’re in races’ and The All-Star Mile wildcard panel.
After a series of adjustments between years one and two, the 2021 race conditions will remain unchanged from the 2020 edition, which was won by Western Australian raider Regal Power.