On Saturday night, the next leg of the 2021 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit takes place with the running of the $1 million Garrards Miracle Mile at TABCORP Park, Menangle.
It is ‘Australasia’s Premier Speed Test’ and first staged in 1967 when Robin Dundee prevailed at Harold Park before switching to its current home since 2009.
The list of champions that have won the sprint feature reads deep although some obvious names are missing with the race proving elusive.
Six equine freaks have recorded back-to-back victories including Westburn Grant (1989/90), Chokin (1993/94), Holmes DG (1999/2000), Sokyola (2003/04), Be Good Johnny (2005/06) and Smoken Up (2010/11).
West Australian Village Kid also won two Miracle Miles, but the wins were split by New Zealand pacer Master Mood.
This weekend, King Of Swing is aiming to become the seventh pacer to claim back-to-back titles following his triumph last year in 1:48.0.
Oddly, King Of Swing will become the first pacer to record repeat victories with different trainers if successful.
Last year, the hulking Rocknroll Hanover entire was prepared by Craig Cross while this year he races under the banner of Belinda McCarthy.
King Of Swings boasts an outstanding record at Menangle with 11 wins from 13 starts, he was the runner-up in the other two starts behind Balraj and Ignatius (whom he meets again on Saturday night).
The Cobbitty based mentor will be represented by three runners including the defending champion plus Expensive Ego and Alta Orlando.
Only King Of Swing and Alta Orlando back-up from last year’s edition – Mark Purdon took the drive behind Alta Orlando who finished third behind King Of Swing and Lochinvar Art.
Champion reinsman Chris Alford takes the drive behind Alta Orlando this year.
Can history repeat? Last year, Luke McCarthy beat David Moran and the pair will battle again this weekend with McCarthy driving King Of Swing while Moran has been booked for the stablemate, last start Chariots of Fire winner Expensive Ego.
If any of McCarthy’s trio scores, she will join her father-in-law John (Be Good Johnny) as a dual winner of the famed sprint after winning back in 2013 with Baby Bling.
Also, she will officially become the most successful female trainer in the event’s history.
Natalie Rasmussen was the co-trainer of 2019 winner Spankem but not officially recognized in 2016 when Have Faith In Me proved triumphant.
Interestingly, the last stable to have a trio of chances in the event was the All Stars (Purdon & Rasmussen) two years ago when Spankem beat Thefixer while Chase Auckland finished fourth.
Also, Spankem was the last horse to complete the Chariots of Fire/Miracle Mile double while the McCarthy prepared Expensive Ego is looking to join him this year.
If King Of Swing repeats, he will become the 15th richest Australia/New Zealand bred pacer with earnings of $2,298,796.
The list of pacers ahead of him includes Blacks A Fake, Im Themightyquinn, Lazarus, Smoken Up, Monkey King, Lennytheshark, Christen Me, Bit Of A Legend, Shartin (mare), Smolda, Terror To Love, Tiger Tara, Chicago Bull and Changeover.
Also, he will become the 7th highest earning stallion behind Lazarus, Lennytheshark, Bit Of A Legend, Terror To Love, Tiger Tara and Changeover.
The Roy Roots Jnr trained The Black Prince who stamped his ticket via his victory in the Newcastle Mile is looking to become the first pacer since Beautide (2013) to complete the double.
Westburn Grant is only other pacer who has completed the double, he did it back in 1990.
Bonny New Zealand mare Stylish Memphis becomes the first pacer to compete in the Chariots of Fire/Ladyship Mile and Miracle Mile in the same year.
Prepared by 2003 World Driving Champion Mark Jones, this is his first runner as a trainer although he has driven in the Miracle Mile previously when partnering Mach Beauty (7th) in the 2013 edition.
The last mare to win the Miracle Mile was Baby Bling back in 2013 while other mares that have won include inaugural winner Robin Dundee (1967) plus Norms Daughter (1996).
Since the Miracle Mile took-up residency at Menangle on the 1400m oval back in 2009, only Kiwi Ingenuity (4th – 2009), Make Mine Cullen (5th – 2010), Baby Bling (1st – 2013), Arms Of An Angel (3rd – 2016) and Bettors Heart (7th – 2020) have competed in the sprint.
Stylish Memphis joins that list this weekend.
Driver Jack Trainor (Stylish Memphis) is the only driver competing this year for the first time while four drivers have won previously including Luke McCarthy (King Of Swing – 2020), James Rattray (Beautide – 2013), Chris Alford (Lennytheshark – 2017) and Anthony Butt (My Field Marshal – 2018).
Robbie Morris (Karloo Mick 2nd in 2011), David Moran (Lochinvar Art 2nd in 2020) and Greg Sugars (Soho Tribeca 3rd in 2018) have all been placed in previous Miracle Miles.
Of the eight runners this weekend, only two stallions are duly represented with Bettors Delight (The Black Prince & Stylish Memphis) and Rock N Roll Heaven (Expensive Ego & Wolf Stride) having multiple runners.
The fastest time in a Miracle Mile is 1:46.9 set by My Field Marshal back in 2018 while the slowest winning time recorded at Menangle is 1:51.8 back in 2011.
Since being staged at Menangle from 2009, here’s a snapshot of times;
2020 – won by King Of Swing – 1st quarter 25.9 – 1st half in 54.7 – winning time 1:48.0
2019 – won by Spankem – 1st quarter 26.9 – 1st half in 55.1 – winning time 1:47.7
2018 – won by My Field Marshal – 1st quarter 26.3 – 1st half in 53.6– winning time 1:46.9
2017 – won by Lennytheshark – 1st quarter 24.8 – 1st half in 55.1 – winning time 1:49.2
2016 – won by Have Faith In Me – 1st quarter 26.4 – 1st half in 53.8 – winning time 1:47.5
2014 – won by Christen Me – 1st quarter in 25.2 – 1st half in 53.7 – winning time 1:49.1
2013 – won by Beautide – 1st quarter in 26.6 – 1st half in 55.4 – winning time 1:50.2
2013 – won by Baby Bling – 1st quarter in 26.1 – 1st half in 54.4 – winning time 1:50.5
2011 – won by Smoken Up – 1st quarter in 26.7 – 1st half in 56.6 – winning time 1:51.8
2010 – won by Smoken Up – 1st quarter in 27 – 1st half in 56.2 – winning time 1:50.3
2009 – won by Monkey King – 1st quarter in 26.2 – 1st half in 55.6 – winning time 1:50.8
And here is a list of the eight starters this year and their quickest time.
The Black Prince – 1:51.0
Ignatius – 1:50.2
Expensive Ego – 1:48.9*
Alta Orlando – 1:49.8
King Of Swing – 1:48.0
Wolf Stride – 1:49.1*
Out To Play – 1:53.3
Stylish Memphis – 1:49.2*
*Indicates recorded at their most recent start
The 2021 Garrards Miracle Mile is only the second leg of the current APG Grand Circuit and with Hunter Cup hero Lochinvar Art not starting this weekend, it provides reigning Grand Circuit champion King Of Swing a clear opportunity to retake the lead if successful while Alta Orlando is eyeing major points following his second placing in the Hunter Cup last month.
Lochinvar Art banked the maximum 100 points with his Hunter Cup triumph while Alta Orlando (60) and King Of Swing (40) are poised to strike.
The 2021 APG Grand Circuit takes in seven events throughout Australasia.