New Zealand's two highest-rated horses, 10-time group one winner Melody Belle and group one Cox Plate (2040m) placegetter Te Akau Shark, have joined fellow Kiwi, Catalyst, in the nominations list for the second edition of the A$5 million All-Star Mile (1600m).
The trio will cross the Tasman in the new year and spend their autumn campaigns in Australia, where connections are hopeful of securing a start in the world's richest mile race at Caulfield on Saturday, March 14.
With New Zealand residents eligible to vote in The All-Star Mile for the first time, the high-profile trio are certain to gain plenty of admirers in the race to land one of the 10 fan-voted berths in the 15-runner field.
"The All-Star Mile is a great concept and we're excited to be part of it by nominating Te Akau Shark and Melody Belle," trainer Jamie Richards said.
"They both deserved a spell in the paddock after their spring campaigns, the Shark came back into the stable this week and Melody Belle will return on Monday.
"Te Akau Shark will most likely kick-off in an open sprint [at Te Rapa] here in New Zealand, and Melody Belle will probably have a few trials at home with a view to starting her off in the Futurity Stakes [group one, 1400m] at Caulfield."
Richards is looking forward to campaigning his stable stars in Australia in the new year.
"Melody Belle is a proven Group One performer and the Shark has plenty of x-factor, so we're very excited about their autumn campaigns," he said.
"Both horses did us proud during the Spring Racing Carnival.
"We would like to think they now have enough fans both here and in Australia to get into the top 10," he added.
"It's a great reflection of New Zealand racing that we have three high-profile horses entered for The All-Star Mile, and if they got there I'm sure all three would have a great chance of winning the race.
"Catalyst looks the real deal, he's head and shoulders above every other three-year-old over here, so I'm looking forward to seeing how he'll measure up in Australia," he said.
Nominations for the 2020 edition will close at noon (AEST) on January 9, with the voting period scheduled to open one week later on January 16.
- NZ Racing Desk