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The Everest

Mike Hedge

One day it is the world’s Champion racehorse elect Winx on the front page, the next it is a single race – The Everest.

And once it has been run, it will become another piece of racing history.

Nowhere else in the world does racing occupy the national interest as much as in Australia.  

In Australia, racing is much more than a sport. It is a national pastime and a part of its heritage.  

Racing began in Australia soon after European settlement in the late 18th century.

As cities and towns emerged around the country, they invariably included two ‘essentials’: a pub and a racetrack.

In some cases, they got several of each. Melbourne and Sydney, for example, have four tracks within their municipal boundaries - more than any other city in the world.

On one of those tracks – Randwick, in Sydney – Australia’s richest horse race and the world’s richest on turf, The Everest, will be run on Saturday, 13 October.

It carries prize money of no less than  A$13 million and will attract a select field of 12 horses, including representatives from the world’s two biggest racing stables, Godolphin and Coolmore.

First run in 2017, The Everest offers 12 “slots”, which can be purchased for $1.8 million. This gives the owner the slot for three years and provides the option to either race their own horse, or invite another owner to race their horse with any proceeds shared,

In Godolphin’s case, rising star sprinter Osborne Bulls was offered the “slot” owned by race organiser, the Australian Turf Club.

Like Winx, with her 28 consecutive wins, Black Caviar and Phar Lap before her and the Melbourne Cup, The Everest has brought racing to the attention of the wider community.

In Australia, the broader population is arguably more invested in racing than any other in the world.

More than 80,000 Australians race horses in their own name, and another 29,000 are members of syndicates – all from a population of only 25 million.

One of the reasons for that is that nowhere else in the world is their investment more likely to be rewarded.

In the 2016-17 racing season, A$671 million in prize money was paid out to Australian owners - a figure exceeded only in the United States and Japan. 

It is interesting to note that only 101 of the 482 G1 races staged in the world each year carry prize money of more than A$1 million. Of those, 27 are run in Australia.

It doesn’t mean Australia is the greatest horse racing nation on earth, merely that it has the horses, the people, the facilities, the desire, the energy and a love for it like nowhere else.

Which is why there is a race like The Everest.