History will be made this weekend as 12 of the planet’s fastest horses battle it out in the world’s richest race on turf.
The Everest, held at Sydney’s Royal Randwick Racecourse, is offering a record prize pot of about $9.6 million this year with the winner scooping $4.8 milliion, meaning only the $12 million Dubai World Cup and the new $20 million Saudi Cup, both staged on dirt, offer more.
Saturday’s six-furlong sprint is the showpiece of the Everest Carnival which celebrates both on-track success and the stylish lifestyle that thrives in the grandstands.
The spectacle is only in its third year but attracts thousands of spectators and will welcome international pop star Kelly Rowland to headline a music concert after racing.
“Saturday […] is going to be a day to remember; where fashion, entertainment and racing collide into what will be the pinnacle event of this season’s Everest Carnival,” said Corina Black of the Australian Turf Club.
The Everest is inspired by the lucrative Pegasus World Cup — formerly the world’s richest race — and requires owners to buy one of the 12 starting gates for about $400,000.
These “slot” owners can then either decide to race their own horse or strike deals with horse owners to rent their horse and then divide any potential winnings.
Since its inauguration in 2017, there has only been one winner of the race with Australian wonder horse Redzel defending its crown in 2018 — winning a staggering $9 million in the process.
The speedster is back again this year looking for an astonishing treble and signs are looking ominous for his opponents.
“It’s a hard call but I believe it’s true. He is physically way better than what we’ve had him the last two years,” said co-trainer Paul Snowden ahead of the race. “He just looks outstanding.”
The draw to decide which horse is placed in which starting gate was conducted in breathtaking fashion with the jockey’s colors beamed onto Sydney Harbour Bridge.
The light show was good news for Redzel’s connections with the two-time champion drawn in Gate 7, which should give him a fair chance of another victory.
All Black interest
Redzel is not the only attraction of this year’s race, though.
Coach of the New Zealand rugby team, Steve Hansen, has shares in Nature Strip, who is running in the spectacle shortly before the All Blacks face Ireland in the Rugby World Cup quarterfinals.
The 60-year-old said he would be putting his trust in trainer Chris Waller as he focuses on New Zealand’s bid for a record third straight World Cup title.
“Obviously, it’s a highlight to have a horse running in a race like the Everest,” Hansen told reporters in Japan.
“There’s not a lot I can do. I can’t ride him, I can’t carry him, I can’t train him so it’s just a matter of sitting back and enjoying that for what it is.
“But you can have an influence during the week with this team and we’ve tried to do that, creating an environment where we get to Saturday with them excited, full of energy and ready to rumble.”
Unlike Royal Ascot, there is no strict dress code for the majority of spectators at the racecourse but people are encouraged to dress in their finest.
Only those entering the members’ areas are required to abide by rules, with men having to wear tailored suits and women asked to adhere to the “dignity and tradition” of the event.
This year also sees another exciting addition to the Carnival, with the first running of Australia’s second richest race.
The Golden Eagle will be run at the nearby Rosehill Gardens on the following weekend and boasts a prize pot of $7.5 million — more than the $5.3 million Melbourne Cup.