The peak of per­fec­tion

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS - DAVID RICCIO AMY HAR­RIS

THEY came in their thou­sands. Well­dressed. Cashed up. And young.

If ever proof were needed that The Ever­est, the word’s rich­est turf race, has rein­vig­o­rated the sport of kings, it was the record crowd that started milling out­side the track hours be­fore it was due to open. Staff fi­nally gave in and threw back the gates at 9am, an hour and a half ear­lier than the ad­ver­tised start time.

By the time de­fend­ing champ Redzel romped home to win the $13 mil­lion main event for the sec­ond time run­ning, there were 40,578 fans cheer­ing him on.

Rac­ing NSW chief ex­ec­u­tive Peter V’landys be­lieves The Ever­est has rev­o­lu­tionised sport, bring­ing the next gen­er­a­tion back to rac­ing in the way the Twenty20 Big Bash in­jected new life into world cricket.

Lost in the pub­lic­ity sur­round­ing last week’s Opera House con­tro­versy was V’Landys’ goal of mak­ing the $13 mil­lion race a favourite of a new gen­er­a­tion.

The strat­egy clearly worked, with 78

per cent of pre-pur­chase tick­ets sold to pun­ters aged 35 and un­der.

“The younger gen­er­a­tion want an event of their own that they can en­gage in,’’ V’Landys said yes­ter­day. “Cricket did it with the Twenty20 Big Bash and we’ve done it with The Ever­est.”

Not even wet weather could dampen their en­thu­si­asm. Two hours be­fore race one, traf­fic around Rand­wick was at a stand­still.

Ian Thorpe, Jen­nifer Hawkins, Erin Hol­land, Emma Freedman and Home And Away’s Sam Frost were among track­side celebri­ties, while Premier Gla­dys Bere­jik­lian was also in the crowd.

Cel­e­brat­ing his sec­ond win in the event, Redzel’s trainer Peter Snow­den said: “We wanted rain and ev­ery­thing just fell into place — I can’t be­lieve it.”

The run­ners-up tro­phy was par­tic­u­larly emo­tional for Trapeze Artist’s owner Bert Viera, whose wife Gai is still in a coma fol­low­ing a car ac­ci­dent.

Redzel’s own­ers weren’t the only ones cel­e­brat­ing on the day. An out­lay of $100 turned into a dream for three mates from the North­ern Beaches.

Self-con­fessed rac­ing trag­ics Richie But­ter­worth, 35, Thad King, 36, and Nathan Lavers, 34, held the win­ning tick­ets in a draw for a slot in the in­au­gu­ral $1.3 mil­lion Kosciusko, the rich­est race in the world solely for coun­try­trained horses.

The three landed the cov­eted slot af­ter the ini­tial win­ners failed to come for­ward. They nom­i­nated Grafton-based 57-1 long­shot Belflyer, ul­ti­mately earn­ing them just over $100,000 each.

“It was a horse I’d watched for years and I knew had tal­ent,” Mr Lavers said.

Ac­tor, singer and for­mer Miss World Aus­tralia Erin Hol­land, pretty in pink. Pic­ture: Chris­tian GillesThe record crowd ig­nores the rain and cel­e­brates Redzel’s start-to-fin­ish win ofChanel Maric and Ellen Mem­molo caught up in the ex­cite­ment.

the sec­ond The Ever­est at Rand­wick. Pic­tures: Sam Rut­tynKer­rin McEvoy cel­e­brates atop Redzel.Tiaras, a tip­ple and a selfie at the pub­lic lawn.Run­ner-up I Like It Easy’s jockey Tim Clark and owner Bert Vieira.

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