Classic Mile field a bit of a misnomer as it lacks the strength and depth of last year's race
Entries closed on Monday for the Group One Mercedes-Benz Classic Mile and first thoughts were to recall the words of Paul O'Sullivan in the wake of the victory by Never Look Back on January 1 - what else is around?
The four-year-old ranks look rather thin, and while there can always be something new and classy turn up before the Derby is run on March 16, it's altogether too late for the Classic Mile scene to change much between now and January 20.
Never Look Back, on a domestic rating of 105, is the second most highly rated entrant. The quality end of the spectrum is headed by the Caspar Fownes-trained Green Birdie, who trialled over the metric mile yesterday morning and went respectably for third to Vengeance Of Rain and Sir Ernesto.
However, the Classic Mile looks a poor imitation of last year's race, when Floral Pegasus (120) was the top-rated entry and ultimate winner, ahead of Down Town (115), All's Well (113) and Royal Delight (109). The average rating of this year's 15 entries is 93.8, while the actual average rating of the final 2007 Classic Mile field was 101.
This may be one of the knock-on effects of equine influenza in Australia, with importations from that country having been shut off since the outbreak in late August, and many expensive private purchases caught in the net as owners eyeing a possible Derby prize lick their wounds and contemplate some compensatory results further down the track.