New Zealand racing fans are to be included in the voting for the 2020 All-Star Mile, which will itself be expanded to take in 15 runners and a revised set of conditions.
Racing Victoria on Tuesday announced the core structure of March's All-Star Mile to be run at Caulfield, with prizemoney to remain at $5 million and the 10 top horses from a public vote to gain automatic entry, but there are a number of other important changes:
The field size is to rise from 14 to 15;
There are two 'win-and-you're in' races - The Futurity Stakes at Caulfield and the Blamey Stakes at Flemington;
The minimum handicap rating requirement for older horses rises from a rating 70 to a rating of 80:
A minimum performance requirement has also been introduced;
There has been a change in allocation of prizemoney, mainly affecting the lower-placed horses: and
There will be a change in criteria for the selection of emergencies.
Carpenter said the changes came off the back of a highly successful debut of The All-Star Mile at Flemington in March, which was won by the Tasmanian filly Mystic Journey.
The first All-Star Mile attracted 139,247 public votes, where females made up 43 per cent and 53 per cent of the votes came from interstate. The most popular age group for voters was between 25 and 34.
A total of 994,049 viewers tuned into the Channel 7 broadcast for the first All-Star Mile, compared to 886,205 for the Super Saturday meeting run seven days earlier.
Wagering on The All-Star Mile meeting was just short of $66m, which was comparable to the Australian Guineas meeting and the Blue Diamond Stakes meeting.
A total of 16,059 people attended the race meeting, which was up from 5716 the previous year on the Blamey Stakes card.
RV executive general manager of racing Greg Carpenter said: "We were delighted with the passion shown for the race by the Australian public in its inaugural year and we've taken our time since to consider the various feedback we've received on how we can make The All-Star Mile 2020 even better.
"We're excited to announce today that we'll be allowing racing fans in New Zealand the opportunity to also vote for their favourite horse to gain a start in The All-Star Mile.
"Will they vote for homegrown stars like Melody Belle and Te Akau Shark or put patriotism aside and vote for the likes of Mystic Journey? It will be interesting to watch.
"In building the race conditions for The All-Star Mile 2020 we wanted to consider our learnings from year one, whilst ensuring that we retained the essence of the race, that being a fan-driven contest in which a broad section of owners and trainers get the chance to compete in a lucrative, world-class event.
"The changes to the conditions will ensure that The All-Star Mile is a contest befitting of its status, whilst retaining the unique opportunity for fairytale stories to emerge and dreams to be realised."
Melbourne Racing Club executive director of racing Jake Norton said: "We are thrilled to be hosting the second edition of The All-Star Mile at Caulfield in 2020 and recognise the updated conditions, which will no doubt result in a more competitive campaign period and a more exciting field.
"We welcome the initiative to accept votes from our New Zealand neighbors and look forward to engaging them, and the Australian racing public, in a fierce campaign to identify the 10 most popular and best horses for the race.
"As we saw last year, the world's richest mile has the power to transcend international boundaries and become a talking point for racing across the globe, and so we look forward to seeing a field of the best local and international runners here on 14 March."
Nominations for The All-Star Mile 2020 will open in December, with voting to begin in January.
THE ALL-STAR MILE - CHANGES FOR 2020
The race rotates from Flemington to Caulfield and will be held on Saturday, March 14.
The field has expanded from 14 to 15 starters. RV has indicated that 15 starters is the optimum field size for The All-Star Mile, particularly as the race venue in 2021, The Valley, can have a capacity field of 15 from their 1600-metre starting point.
MINIMUM PERFORMANCE CRITERIA
1. MINIMUM HANDICAP RATING
Horses aged four or older who wish to compete in The All-Star Mile must have a minimum handicap rating of 80, rising from the previous mark of 70.
Three-year-olds who wish to compete in The All-Star Mile will still require a minimum handicap rating of 70, as per the inaugural race.
2. RECENT PERFORMANCES
All horses who wish to compete in The All-Star Mile must, by the close of nominations in January, have finished top three in a Group or Listed race since February 2019 or earned $20,000 or more by finishing top three in a flat race during the same period.
There are two opportunities for horses to automatically gain entry into The All-Star Mile field. They can gain entry by winning either the G1 Futurity Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on February 22 or the G2 Blamey Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on February 29.
The Futurity Stakes is held under weight-for-age conditions while the Futurity Stakes, held on the same day as the G1 Australian Guineas (1600m), is under set weights and penalties.
If the winner of the Futurity or the Blamey Stakes has already secured a start via the public vote by featuring in the top 10, then the berth will revert to a traditional wildcard selection.
FREE ACCEPTANCE STAGE
A 'free acceptance stage' has been introduced following the announcement of the top-10 voted horses to confirm the entries that wish to be considered for selection as an emergency if not granted a wildcard.
Emergencies for the inaugural All-Star Mile were selected based on overall prizemoney tallies. The 2020 All-Star Mile will see the highest prizemoney earners in races between 1200 and 2050m from February 2019 until final acceptances in March 2020 gain priority.
The 2020 All-Star Mile will see prizemoney staggered for horses who finish outside the top-five. In the 2019 All-Star Mile horses who finished sixth to 14th gained $90,000 in prizemoney.
However, the 2020 All-Star Mile will see horses who finish sixth to eighth gain $120,000, from ninth to 10th $100,000 and those who fill the final five positions $50,000.
Last year's All-Star Mile voting was only open to Australian residents but for 2020 New Zealand residents are permitted to shape the field of The All-Star Mile with the likes of Melody Belle and Te Akau Shark sure to be popular amongst Kiwi voters.
THE ALL-STAR MILE - REVIEW OF 2019
The All-Star Mile in 2019 obtained a higher rating than many of the world's best mile races over the past 12 months, with an overall race rating of 121.
In comparison, other premier mile races were the 2019 Sussex Stakes (117.75), 2018 Breeders' Cup Mile (117.25), 2018 HK International Mile (117.25), 2019 Doncaster Mile (116.75), 2019 HK Champions Mile (116) and 2019 Queen Anne Stakes (115.25).
A crowd of 16,059 were at Flemington racecourse for the inaugural All-Star Mile race day. In comparison, the corresponding fixture in 2018, which hosted the Blamey Stakes, attracted 5716 racegoers.
A total of 139,247 votes were lodged to select a horse for The All-Star Mile field. 53 per cent of voters were from outside Victoria, the home state of The All-Star Mile, while 43 per cent of voters were female. The bulk of votes were lodged by those aged 25 to 34 years old.
The total national reach of viewers for The All-Star Mile meeting on free-to-air broadcaster Channel 7 was 994,049. The 'Super Saturday' meeting seven days earlier at Flemington had a total national reach of 886,205.
Total race-day turnover on The All-Star Mile meeting was $65.9m, just behind well-established Blue Diamond Stakes and 'Super Saturday' race meetings, which amassed just under $70m in total turnover. The 2018 Blamey Stakes meeting attracted total turnover of $43m.