Connections of wonder mare Winx have already announced that this autumn will be the equine superstar's final campaign, but that hasn't stopped Racing Victoria officials hoping that they might be enticed south for one final farewell to Flemington in March before she bows out for good in Sydney.
The $5 million All Star Mile, the world's richest 1600-metre race, is the event that RV bosses hope could entice Chris Waller and her owners to trek south one last time, even though few in the sport think that's likely. But she could be given a wildcard in a bid to lure her to Melbourne one last time.
Nominations for the richly endowed race close at noon on Tuesday, and insiders feel that it's unlikely Winx will be nominated because of the special conditions of the contest.
Ten of the 14 runners will be determined by popular ballot of racing fans, with the last four places to be offered by Racing Victoria as wildcards to deserving horses who have not done well in the popularity poll but whose presence would enhance the event.
There is no doubt that Winx would top the vote if she were entered, but given she is likely to end her career in Sydney during the autumn it's unlikely the Winx camp would nominate her, allow her to garner the most votes and not run.
She will resume in a barrier trial in Sydney on Tuesday, with the Apollo Stakes at Randwick on February 16 likely to be her first target.
Should Waller and the owners change their minds and re-route to Flemington for a Victorian swansong they know that their mare would be the first name called out when the four wildcard spots are announced, so they could get a place in the field without spoiling the voting process should they wish to.
The All Star Mile will be run on March 16; nominations close on January 15, and the public poll will open on January 21 and finish on February 18, with the top ten placegetters announced on February 21. The wildcard entrants will be finalised on March 4.
So far the nominations total stands at 100 after Godolphin declared their hand on Sunday by naming as their candidates the evergreen Hartnell, a horse who has seen the back of Winx more often than he would care to remember; the English import Best Of Days, successful at group 1 level during the spring carnival last year; and the four-year-old mare Alizee, a dual group 1 winner so far in a relatively short career.
Godolphin's trio are, however, dwarfed by the nominations from Victorian powerhouses Darren Weir and David Hayes.
The former has nominated 11 top liners, including Victoria Derby winner Extra Brut and the progressive Ringerdingding, while Hayes and his training partners Tom Dabernig and son Ben have put forward no less than 25 horses, perhaps the best known being multiple group 1 winner Vega Magic.
Two of the past three Melbourne Cup winners – Rekindling (2017) and Almandin (2018) have been nominated by Team Williams – while a handful of smaller trainers have put forward their stable stars in the hope they might gain a cult following, secure votes and a place in the field as a result.
Michael Lynch, The Age's expert on soccer, has had extensive experience of high level journalism in the UK and Australia. Michael has covered the Socceroos through Asia, Europe and South America in their past three World Cup campaigns. He has also reported on Grands Prix and top class motor sport from Asia and Europe. He has won several national media awards for both sports and industry journalism.