Mile opens door for lesser lights to shine
DARREN Dance has savoured achievement and disappointment in lopsided proportion at Flemington.
The desolation of narrowly failing to land the Melbourne Cup is offset by the syndicator's uncanny ability to identify and source good horses such as Heartbreak City and Jakkalberry.
Ill-fated Heartbreak City (second) was beaten a sliver by Almandin in the 2016 Cup. Jakkalberry (third in '12) might have been the best $81 performer in the famous race's history.
Dance has ridden the all-too-familiar rollercoaster with other internationals, including Dandino (second in a Caulfield Cup, fifth in the Melbourne Cup). His Cups dreams endure.
As accomplished as the Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock director is at essaying successful Cup tilts, he has found a new target.
The All-Star Mile, a race open to battlers and billionaires.
Dance is represented by Mr Money Bags in the $5 million All-Star Mile.
He is there by dint of public vote. An outsider in a race shaped by a wedge of elite performers and a tail of moderate gallopers.
Unlike the Melbourne Cup, where a hefty slug of cash is required to be even remotely competitive, the All-Star Mile is a race for all-comers.
Dance loves the contrast.
"What I want to see is a competitive race and I'd just like to see one of these syndicated horses just jump out of his skin on the day, run home and finish in the placings," he said.
"It'd be great for everybody concerned.
"For many, this is the equivalent for them of (having a runner in) the Melbourne Cup or the Cox Plate. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for these owners and we feel really proud to be a part of it.
"All their hard work around their communities across Australia in getting votes, it's worked out well."
Dance has been in the syndication business for 22 years, catering to the sport's minions.
"We're going to have a great day," he said, acknowledging the challenge of stretching Godolphin's Alizee and Hartnell and a swag of fellow Group 1 winners, including Happy Clapper, Mystic Journey and Grunt..
"We're just rapt to draw barrier five, which gives him some hope of being in the race," Dance said. "But I've got no illusions, there are some really good horses in the race but if we finish midfield or better, I'd be delighted."
Guaranteed a minimum $90,000, Mr Money Bags is a $91 chance with Ladbrokes.
The winner will earn $2.25 million.