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BROWNIE'S BLOG: VOTING FOR THE ALL-STAR MILE IS WELL AND TRULY UNDER WAY. WHO ARE YOU BACKING?

By Damian Browne | Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Brownie’s Blog is the weekly blog of multiple Group 1 winning jockey Damian Browne. In this edition Brownie casts his eye over the start of the build-up to the second running of the $5 million All-Star Mile and the public voting process which will ultimately decide two-thirds of the final field. He also has his say about the Queensland Racing media rights situation … both current and future…and suggests a clear-cut path that he believes the media rights negotiators from the Queensland camp should follow when they play their hand in what could easily become an arm-wrestle. This is Brownie’s Blog – exclusive to HRO.

Be prepared for the All-Star Mile to receive plenty of coverage between now and race-day at Caulfield on March 14. The fifteen strong field for the world’s richest mile race will be filled by ten horses who receive the most votes (voting is open to all comers on the www.allstarmile.com.au/vote) website) and five wildcards who will compete for $5 million in prize-money.

So, with voting now open you can expect all of the promos and prompts to vote for certain horses on all forms of social media as well as regular updates on the voting status from media outlets.

A total of ninety-five horses have been nominated for the race. It is good to see that, with this year’s nominations, horses now have to satisfy new minimum performance criteria over the previous year at the close of nominations. There was no such restriction in the inaugural running of the race last year.

At the end of the day you just don’t want horses in the race who have no chance of winning. Those horses can get in the way of those who can win … and knock them out of the race when they drop back into laps because they are not good enough to be there.

A large ownership group with their family, extended family and friends will always have an advantage with the voting procedure but, now at least, if the horse meets the new minimum performance criteria … that’s ok.

The voting still has some way to go but, clearly, from the runners that have been nominated, the voting has the making of being able to assemble a very competitive field this year and, quite simply, that’s exactly what you want. When you are talking about that sort of prize-money you want to assemble the best field you can.

The All-Star Mile is only in its second year. I know it was a success last year but it is a concept in its early stages and the fact that they are tinkering around with it and trying to improve it each year is good. They are not just sitting on their laurels.

I think it can be better and they are trying to achieve that.

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On the one hand I probably was a little bit surprised that more Queensland based horses weren’t nominated for the All Star Mile (Alligator Blood and Cruze are the only two) … yet, I can also understand why that is.

It obviously comes down to the fact you have got to have the right horse. The nomination fee is $500 and $500 is still $500. There is little point in spending that money if you a million to one chance of even getting inti the race, never mind winning it.

I would have thought Tony Gollan might have had a runner or two. He seems to have a pretty strong stable. Rob Heathcote is similar … but, again, they might not have the right horse at this particular time for that sort of race.

Also, if you are getting you horse up for that race, trying to peak on that day, it may well impact that horse’s involvement in the Winter Carnival in Brisbane.

For the money we are racing for here in Winter now, people are setting their horses for the carnival races.

So, there are a lot of things that our trainers have to take into consideration when weighing upsomething like the All Star Mile. The logistics of travelling horses, the strength of the likely opposition and the timing of the race are just a few of those factors.

You’d have to have a pretty handy horse to want to go.

There is no point in going there and running last.

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Another subject that is going to have its fair share of coverage over the coming months is the media rights issue as it relates to racing in Queensland. The current contract with Sky Racing expires at the end of June.

I share the opinion of many when I say that the coverage given to racing Queensland over much of the last ten years has not been any where close to satisfactory. In fact, it has been a contentious subject for Queenslanders for quite a long time.

The up-coming negotiations on whether to renew their contract, or go elsewhere, provides Racing Queensland with an opportunity to formally address these issues and to seek a cast iron better deal.

Queensland representatives need to conduct negotiations from their side knowing exactly what they want. You know, there is talk about Racing NSW always getting what they want. They are obviously fighting for … and getting … the best coverage they can get so, in similar vein, instead of bemoaning the fact, Queensland representatives have to fight just as hard.

Queensland has got to go in with three, four or five main points and fight for them. You don’t go in there and say, ah it would be nice if we could have a bit of this. We can’t, ok, maybe we can have a bit of that. I’m not saying they are doing that. I am saying that if you are vague or weak, they will walk all over you.

They have to know exactly what they want and, if they don’t get at least a good proportion of that, they must be prepared to go elsewhere.

If they cut Eagle Farm off to go to Randwick … you can understand that. Metropolitan racing must have the bulk of the coverage. But, when they cut Eagle Farm off to go to Tumut, which I believe happened last Saturday, that is just not on.

There is a lot of water still to pass under the bridge with this one.

It is going to be a battle ground of sorts so, if Queensland is going to get anywhere, it had better be ready to be in for the fight!

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Damian Browne
Damian Browne
Queensland's boom horse Alligator Blood currently leads the Al Star Mile voting

Photos HRO (Graham Potter and Darren Winningham)
Queensland's boom horse Alligator Blood currently leads the Al Star Mile voting

Photos HRO (Graham Potter and Darren Winningham)
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