The peak of perfection
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.