Champion driver Luke McCarthy’s is relying on an upset to win his fourth successive Miracle Mile and become the most successful driver in the history of the great race.
McCarthy has owned the Miracle Mile of late, winning the past three with his new retired champ King Of Swing, who was favourite each time.
But this time, McCarthy’s drives $26 outsider Expensive Ego from the outside draw (gate eight).
McCarthy’s three wins on King Of Swing give him a share of the record for most driving wins in the race with Lance Justice (Sokyola 2003 and Smoken Up 2010 & ’11), Tony Herlihy (Christopher Vance 1991, Chokin 1993 & ’94) and Vic Frost (Lucky Creed 1970 and Westburn Grant 1989 & ’90).
“It’s a whole different feeling this year, like the weight of the world is off my shoulders,” McCarthy said.
“There was so much pressure and expectation with King Of Swing last year. He was trying to become the first three-time winner, he was the hot favourite and it was his last race start … everyone expected him to win.
“It was as much a relief as it was a thrill to get the job done. All of his three wins felt a bit different, the first was a huge thrill and the second was the easiest because I just thought he’d turn up and win. It’s as confident as I’ve ever been going into a feature race.”
Expensive Ego has chased home King Of Swing in the past two Miracle Miles, finishing a fantastic second in 2021 and a disappointing seventh last year.
This will be McCarthy’s first drive on him in the Miracle Mile and he admits both he and the horse will need to produce something special.
“It’s so hard from out there (the wide draw). So much is out of our hands and hinges on how the race is run. We can’t really make our own luck as such,” he said.
“I can’t even have a set plan. It’s all tempo related. I’d love to be up on the speed, probably outside the leader, but if they run the first half really quickly, I won’t be able to get there.”
Expensive Ego is one of two Miracle Mile runners for McCarthy and his wife, Belinda.
Last year’s runner-up Spirit Of St Louis is the other.
And the betting market says he is by far their best chance as a $5 shot. He’s drawn gate two, but will start from one if the emergencies don’t get runs.
“Ego is at least as good a horse, but Louis has drawn so much better and he’s our best winning hope,” McCarthy said.
“Starting from the pole is good but not great because it sort of forces Jack’s (Callaghan, driver) hand. He has to come out humming.
“If Mach Dan charges out from the wide draw, there will be fireworks and they’ll run a very quick lead time.
“But he leads and gets a breather anywhere, Louis will take some beating. He’s right back to his best and won so easily last week.”
Hunter Cup winner Honolua Bay is an easing $2.80 to $3 Miracle Mile favourite with the big support coming for his buzz stablemate Captain Ravishing despite a wide draw ($4.50 into $3.80).
* Adam Hamilton is a paid contributor writing on harness racing for News Corp
Originally published as Luke McCarthy aiming to cause boilover for Miracle Mile driving record