The Everest was, quite simply, the most exciting day of racing I’ve attended in Sydney.
The atmosphere was electric, the race spectacular, the hype fulfilled.
I’ve lived in the harbour city since 2011 and this day was everything I wanted from our wonderful sport, and everything Racing NSW’s leader Peter V’Landys promised it would be.
Horse racing compels attention with a rich brew of intrigue and mystery, surprise and the spectacular. This race delivered on that in abundance.
Behind every horse we have the owners, the breeders, the trainers, the jockeys, and the slot holders: 12 of the biggest punters of all that invested $600,000 and had to apply sharp form analysis, work their relationships and employ smart negotiating tactics to attract the best representative for each slot.
Our industry is afraid of change. Anything that is new and different cops a heavy dose of criticism. But Peter V’Landys has never been afraid to challenge the status quo. Debate on the merits of The Everest paradoxically boosted the build-up, because even those who disliked it couldn’t stop talking about it.
Any worries that participation in the race would be limited to the wealthiest owners soon disappeared when it became clear that many leading contenders were controlled by everyday men and women that all Australians can relate to.
And what a spectacle we were delivered.
Redzel, a syndicated horse owned by a diverse bunch of Aussies from all walks of life.
Trained by the Snowdens, a father and son duo renowned for having their athletic charges primed to the minute.
Ridden by Kerrin McEvoy, a humble and eloquent ambassador for the sport.
Sired by Australia’s current superstar stallion Snitzel, out of a mare that died soon after foaling him, and sold by Gerry Harvey & Katie Page’s Magic Millions Sales Company.
Racing in a slot owned by the young, ambitious Irishman James Harron who arrived in Australia 15 years ago and has reached the pinnacle as a bloodstock agent.
From pony rides for the children to Redzel’s powerhouse performance on the track, The Everest made racing relevant to young Australians on one spectacular day.
Jason Derulo rocked the Theatre of the Horse to a heaving crowd after the last race, an act selection reflective of Racing NSW & the ATC’s ambitions to attract a younger demographic.
Photo: Darren Pearce (Twitter)
So where to from here?
Like the Melbourne Cup, The Everest managed to transcend the industry and showed us the scope of what’s possible in our city, as it has been in the Victorian capital, people in Sydney were talking about horse racing again. It’s only by reaching the broad network of sport-loving and horse-loving Australians beyond our industry bubble that we can grow the fan base of our sport.
After capturing the attention of the masses with The Everest show, our next task is to capitalise on it and convert this interest into genuine, sustained enthusiasm for the sport. A challenge that Racing NSW are well able and motivated to tackle.
We can invite the curious Sydneysider into our world with engaging content, remarkable information and inspiring stories 365 days a year, not just one day in October. The stories that horses like Redzel gift to us every single day.
We can use this attention on horse racing to grow the brand of the sport.
If we do, the brands of The Everest, The Championships and everything associated with the Australian thoroughbred will grow with it.
I’m pumped – let’s do it.