Saturday 13th October 2018 is set to be yet another day that will etch itself into Australian Racing History, now known as the Richest Day on our horse racing calendar with the running of The Kosciuszko and The Everest.
In 2017, Australia was introduced into the concept of Slot Holders electing a runner to represent them in a race. A concept that we were not familiar with but successfully proven within American Horse Racing. There are 12 slots in the race and each slot is owned by a slot holder who
pays $600k to own that slot. The slot holder can then elect any horse to represent them and then hold discussions with connections regarding the prize money split. In its first year the Everest was worth $10 million dollars, it continues to become the richest race on turf as in 2018 it is now worth $13 million and is on track to continue to increase in the next few years. With impressive prizemoney, the trophy is just as impressive and one that many trainers and owners dream of now owning, along with the most famous cup of all The Melbourne Cup.
The 2018 running of the Everest has been one that has been a rocky road. Firstly, the field took some time to come together and speculation around various horses that would be getting a slot including popular Melbourne Sprinter, Nature Strip. The horse did eventually gain a slot in the race only to be withdrawn due to poor performance. The ex Ben Smith trained In Her Time mid preparation was sent to a new stable and had to adapt to a new training routine under the guidance of fellow Newcastle based trainer Kris Lees. The biggest hitters in the industry around the world, Godolphin, also gained a slot when popular runner Home Of The Brave gained a start, only to be withdrawn earlier this week due to an elevated temperature. Luckily, on hand was stable mate Osborne Bulls to line up for the royal blue connections.
The race this year gained even more publicity due to the much spoken about barrier draw that was cast onto the sails of one of our most iconic buildings the Sydney Opera House. Traditionally in Australia, barrier draws for big races has been a televised barrier draw in which a horse is announced and then a ball is drawn out or a number on the bottom of a Melbourne Cup replica. This year Racing NSW and the state Government went with a more innovative way of conducting a barrier draw, simply broadcasting the name of the horse and the barrier number onto the sails of the Opera House (after much debate about what could and would be shown on the sails). The concept caused controversy headed by radio broadcaster Alan Jones, but when in reality the activity was no different to the annual winter light festival Vivid. Now that all the controversy is now behind us and Everest eve is here, only one question is on the lips of everyone that will be answered tomorrow- WHO WILL CONQUER THE EVEREST? Will Redzel retain his title or will another reign supreme?
The other reason for the day being one of the biggest on the racing card in Australia, is it will also be the inaugural running of The Kosciuszko. Another race that introduced a new concept into the racing industry in Australia. The prizepool on offer $1.3 million, for country trained gallopers over 1200m. However, getting into this race was also much different to the Everest. Whereas, the slot holders in the Everest pay for them, slot holders for this race opened up the opportunity to the general public. Interested people were invited to purchase a $5 ticket at any TAB outlet and you would go into the draw to possibly win one of the 12 slots. Holders of the winning tickets could then pick any country trained galloper to represent them and also discuss with the connections a deal with the prizemoney, giving ticketholders the opportunity to experience racehorse ownership in a race worth over $1 million.
Now with both fields finalised and all the final touches having been applied to the contenders, the excitement is almost at the peak. Tomorrow is no doubt going to see large crowds flock through the gates to pack Royal Randwick to see which horses will reign supreme. Then after the races, entertainment will be provided by former One Direction heart throb Liam Payne (45 minute concert).
It is no doubt set to be a massive day of racing. It is also set to be a sad day of racing as Sydney will get the chance to farewell the “Grey Flash” Chautauqua who will lead out the Everest field as he looks to complete his final farewell before retirement to be a Clerk Of The Course.