In the pipeline for over 12 months but officially launched last December, the inaugural All Star Mile, nicknamed the ‘people’s race’, has certainly been causing quite a stir amongst racing fans. And whilst Mystic Journey only secured a starting position through one of four wildcard entries, the extraordinary gutsy win by the Tasmanian filly has firmly cemented her as the next ‘people’s horse.’
“The Group 1 (Australian Guineas) was obviously a pinnacle a fortnight ago but to win the richest mile race in the world only two weeks later, she’s a filly on an upward spiral and we don’t know where the bottom of her is,” trainer Adam Trinder said after her victory at Flemington on Saturday.
“We’ll protect her, look after her and she might be able to take over the mantle of Winx.” He said.
Nicknamed Betty, and affectionately dubbed ‘the Winx of Tassie’ by her regular jockey Anthony Darmanin, you’d be forgiven for thinking Mystic Journey is one hundred percent Apple Isle. However dig a little deeper and you’ll find Betty has quite the Victorian flavour to her story.
Before turning to training, Trinder had a successful Victorian jumps jockey career, winning such races as the Australian Hurdle, Galleywood Hurdle, Grand National Hurdle and two Hiskens Steeples. Darmanin is a full time trackwork rider at Lloyd Williams’ Macedon Lodge, travelling to Tasmania on weekends to take his only race rides for the week.
Mystic Journey’s sire is Needs Further (Encosta De Lago), a Group 3 Carbine Club Stakes winner trained by Gai Waterhouse and current resident at Tasmania’s Armidale Stud.
However, Betty was bred by Victoria’s Ralph Zito. A specialist pathologist and olive oil producer by trade, Ralph has been in the industry for many years and takes great pride in his breeding success.
“Genetic compatibility is, in my opinion, the essential ingredient for predictable success,” said Ralph.
“All my matings are very carefully researched and planned utilising principles of line breeding and we now have accumulation of highly desirable genotype over three generations in two of our dam lines with others following. Tassie stallions, together with the wonderful pasture in Tasmania (at a time of drought here back home) were the reason for us to consider going interstate with our mares.” He said.
The Mystic Journey page is littered with city and black type winners. Her dam, White Gold (NZ) was bred by Ralph from his mare L’Anello (NZ). White Gold raced successfully in Victoria before injury sent her to begin the next phase of her career. She produced winners Leodoro and Gold Phoenix, both by Ralph’s stallion Jayemzed, who now stands at Smeaton’s Moorookyle Park. Also in Ralph’s ownership, White Gold’s full brother Oronero was a multiple city winner, and earned some black type during his successful racing career.
For a long time, Ralph and his breeding partners – wife Peta and high school friends Joe and Rhonda Cichello and John and Diane Button – only bred to race but more recently, with the increasing commerciality of their broodmares, they have commenced selling at leading mainland sales, and are keen to be seen as sellers of winners.
Mystic Journey, along with her unbeaten and stakes winning three-quarter sister Mystical Pursuit, other three-quarter sister Secret Gold and unraced full sister Emerald Crown, were all born and raised in the lush paddocks of Tasmania’s Armidale Stud. They also all went through the Magic Millions Sales ring. Emerald Crown was purchased by fellow Victorian breeder/owner Ross Wilkinson and is being trained by White Gold’s trainer, Nigel Blackiston. These progeny of the White Gold family are all by Needs Further and are almost singlehandedly responsible for raising the mainland consciousness of this emerging sire.
“I have no hesitation in stating that while Mystic Journey’s sale price was laughably low ($11,000), as breeders the satisfaction is priceless and everlasting,” said Ralph. “The bottom line is that here in Victoria we are blessed with exceptional genetic material to work which, when properly applied, can produce outstanding results without breaking the bank.”
Mystic Journey now heads to the paddock for a well-earned rest, before setting her sights on a Cox Plate. In the words of race caller Matt Hill, she is what dreams are made of.