All-Star Mile start on offer at Caulfield on Saturday

Another high-class galloper will be welcomed into the 2024 All-Star Mile field this Saturday (10 February) at Caulfield as the Festival of Racing gets underway in style.

The Sportsbet C.F. Orr Stakes (1400m) doubles as a ‘Win and You’re In’ race for the $4 million showdown at the same track on Saturday, 16 March.

The good news for the connections of those lining up in the first Group 1 of the year is that a minor placing may be enough to secure a start in Victoria’s richest mile race.

With the top two in betting for the C.F. Orr Stakes, Mr Brightside and Pride Of Jenni, already granted All-Star Mile wildcards, selectors have flagged a different approach.

Should either horse win the C.F. Orr Stakes then the runner-up will be offered the ticket into the All-Star Mile. If they fill the quinella, the third placegetter will be invited.

Racing Victoria (RV) Executive General Manager – Racing, Matt Welsh, explained: “The C.F. Orr Stakes and Futurity Stakes in a fortnight are our primary lead-up races to the All-Star Mile and we’re further rewarding those who contest them.

“It’s great to welcome Group 1 winners from Western Australia and New South Wales to Melbourne for the C.F. Orr Stakes where they are chasing a coveted prize as well as getting the chance to impress for an All-Star Mile berth. 

“This is the first time the C.F. Orr Stakes will double as a ‘win and you’re in’ race, but its connection with the All-Star Mile is already strong. Five of the first six home in last year’s race went on to contest the All-Star Mile including eventual winner Mr Brightside.

“The equation is simple. Perform well on Saturday and you’re set for a big Festival of Racing in our premier races.”

Reigning All-Star Mile champion Mr Brightside, trained by Ben, Will and JD Hayes, is one of six horses making their first appearance for 2024 in the C.F. Orr Stakes. Others include Pride Of Jenni (Ciaron Maher) and Atishu (Chris Waller, pictured above) who starred on Champions Day at Flemington last November with Group 1 victories.

Two stars of Western Australia’s Pinnacles Carnival, Group 1 Railway Stakes (1600m) winner Bustler (Neville Parnham) and Munhamek (1400m) – the horse that delivered Damien Oliver his fairytale farewell, bring strong interstate form lines to the contest, as does as the highly rated James Cummings-trained four-year-old Pericles.

Among the contenders to have already faced the starter in 2024 is Group 2 Australia Stakes (1200m) winner Veight (Tony & Calvin McEvoy) who is striving to become the second three-year-old winner in as many years after Jacquinot prevailed on protest in 2023.

The C.F. Orr Stakes is the fifth of eight ‘Win and You’re In’ races for the 2024 All-Star Mile and the second to be run in Victoria. Of the four run thus far, the connections of New Zealand’s dynamic Aotearoa Classic (1600m) winner Desert Lightning are the ones set to take up the challenge of delivering the Kiwis’ their first All-Star Mile title.

The connections of the other automatic qualifiers to date in Magic Time (Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes), Abounding (Magic Millions 3YO Guineas) and Orchestral (Karaka 3YO Million) have indicated that their horses will chase alternative targets over different distances.

Should an automatic qualifier not take up their position in the All-Star Mile, the Racing Victoria (RV) and Melbourne Racing Club (MRC) selectors will choose another wildcard to fill its position in the final field of 16 starters.

Three wildcards have been issued to date. Alongside Mr Brightside and Pride Of Jenni, the untapped Jimmysstar (Ciaron Maher) was presented with an All-Star Mile start last Saturday at Caulfield after posting his fifth successive victory.

The C.F. Orr Stakes, which headlines Saturday’s Herald Sun Family Day at Caulfield, is Race 9 at 4.55pm (AEDT) and will be broadcast live on and Channel 7 and across the airwaves on RSN.