Magic minute all it takes to scale Everest
The luvvies did nothing in 2013 when the Sydney Opera House became a Samsung ad
In just over a minute — which will doubtless feel like an adrenalinecharged eternity — trainer David Hayes will have the answer for which he has waited a year, and his horse Vega Magic will meet his destiny.
Hayes, who has won the Golden Slipper, the Cox Plate and the Caulfield, Melbourne and Japan cups, will know whether he can add the The Everest, the richest race on turf, to his impressive list.
And Vega Magic and his critics will have their answers to two vital questions. Was last year just one of those things that can happen in racing? And can Vega Magic perform on a wet track?
Last year, the 1200m race was won by Redzel in 1min 8.36sec. But it can be argued that jockey Craig Williams, who was riding Vega Magic, blew it, going back at the start from a wide barrier draw when he should have pressed forward to race outside the leader and eventual winner Redzel.
Hayes, who has trained Vega Magic in partnership with his son Ben and nephew Tom Dabernig, has had the $13 million Everest, with its $6m first prize, as a longterm goal. “I couldn’t be happier with the horse; he hasn’t put a foot wrong this campaign,” Hayes said.
A year is a long time in racing, especially when you sit out almost all that time because of a stable mishap. Vega Magic received a laceration, requiring dozens of staples and sidelining him over the late spring and the summer.
Sceptical punters want to desert Vega Magic on a heavy track but not Hayes. Sent off the favourite in The Goodwood when resuming in Adelaide in May, Vega Magic was deemed to have failed on a soft track, finishing eighth to Everest rival Santa Ana Lane.
“He has won his only other two starts on soft tracks and I think it was more to do with the break between runs that he was beaten in The Goodwood,” an optimistic Hayes said, while looking to the sky, which has dropped about 20mm of rain in the past 24 hours.
The horse has also captured the attention of James Harron, whose bloodstock syndication and management company partnered connections of Redzel last year, the biggest payday for his clientele so far.
Harron and his associates shared in $5.8m and the euphoria generated by a fledgling race des-tined to become a fixture of thee spring.
Chinese billionaire Yueshengg Zhang’s Yulong Investmentss moved early to secure Redzel for this year’s Everest, and Harron reached agreement with West Australian brothers Wally and George Daly, who are the registered owners of Vega Magic.
Harron believes you cannot tackle The Everest, for which investors acquire a slot for $600,000 in a field of 12 horses, on a whim or as an afterthought.
Rather, it has to be approached as a grand final.
I guess the word canvas is a bit more artsy and maybe that’s why it didn’t rile Sydney trendies
If you want to see what hypocrisy looks like, look no further than the fury over the Sydney Opera House being used to advertise a horse race. Listening to the hundreds of people who descended on the Opera House to register their rage about the ad, you’d think this previously had been an entirely neutral building, never polluted by anything so vulgar as propaganda or commercialism.
It is outrageous to reduce this place of art and music and serious discussion to a billboard for the gee-gees and gambling, people cried. This iconic place must “never again” be used as a “billboard”, said Bill Shorten. On the more radical sections of the Left, there was much tut-tutting over this crass display of “corporate” messages on “our house”.
The impression we’re left with is that hitherto the Opera House had been a morally pristine place, never defaced by messaging, and now we urgently must get the building back to that pure, churchlike state. If this were true, there might be some merit to the heated response to the Everest race promo. But it isn’t true. At all.
The Opera House has been used as a billboard many times. Yet the kind of people losing the plot over the Everest promotion said diddly-squat about those earlier treatments of it as a political or corporate soapbox.
Why didn’t these protesters kick up a storm when Samsung took over the sails of the Opera House to launch its Galaxy S4 smartphone in 2013? Its website boasted about “using (the Opera House) as a canvas”. It projected all sorts of colourful images on to the building.
Was that not a corporate takeover? Is it more acceptable when big businesses say they’re using the Opera House as a “canvas” rather than as a “billboard”?
I guess the word canvas is a bit more artsy and maybe that’s why it didn’t rile Sydney trendies.
Then there are the political messages. The Opera House is frequently plastered with these.
It was lit up in the gay-flag colours last year when parliament approved same-sex marriage.
Last month it turned green to celebrate its achievement of carbon neutrality. Using electricity to boast about how eco-correct you are — what a strangely contradic- tory act of environmentalist virtue-signalling.
The Opera House also has plunged itself into darkness to commemorate Earth Hour, that annual miserabilist event in which institutions switch off their lights for one hour to show how much they care about the terrible impact humans are having on the planet.
These are all propaganda displays. Some people will say there is nothing political about supporting gay marriage or being environmentally aware — these are just good, decent positions. But in truth, these are contested issues, behind which there lurk serious tussles over moral values and political outlooks. The Sydney Opera House is absolutely turning its sails into political billboards when it projects those kinds of messages.
It is galling to watch house chief executive Louise Herron pose as a defender of the building from logos and slogans when under her leadership it has been used frequently to push political sloganeering.
One of the concerns raised by the protesters against the Everest projection is that it degrades the idea of “the public”. Such promos invade public spaces that belong to ordinary people and that should not be co-opted by the powerful and filthy rich.
A writer for Guardian Australia says the Everest projection is part of a broader “right-wing assault on the idea of ‘the public’ ”.
But it isn’t only the Right that uses “people’s spaces” to advertise its wares and beliefs.
It is of course true that some corporate types view even iconic public buildings as little more than arenas in which they shout at the rest of us and try to sell us stuff.
But on the other side, among the apparently more communityminded leftish types, there is also a tendency to view the public square as just a space for messaging.
Only the thing they want to foist on passers-by is not ads for phones or horse races but nonstop “correct” messaging; political declarations from on high; directives about the right way to think and the virtuous way to live.
Sure, horse race bosses want to colonise the public square with adverts for their events. But is that really any worse than the new PC set that wants to colonise the public square with adverts for their own political and cultural virtue and ceaseless nagging about the right way to live?
Both sides tend to view ordinary people as little more than receptacles for messages from the cultural or corporate gods. And this is where the extraordinary double standards over the use of the Opera House for non-artistic purposes starts to make sense.
The people freaking out over the Everest projection aren’t really opposed to the use of public buildings as “billboards”. They’re just mad that the Opera House has become a billboard for what they consider to be an immoral pursuit: racing and gambling.
There’s a strong whiff of snobbery to all this. To those people who took to the streets over at the Opera House but didn’t say anything about the Samsung promo: could it be that you aren’t as anticapitalist as you think, and really you just consider horseracing a vulgar pastime? Maybe you’re more moralist than Marxist.
The New Left’s disdain for advertising, especially advertising related to gambling, reeks of Victorian-style paternalism. Their belief seems to be that if people catch a glimpse of a horse race display on the Opera House, they will descend into the hell of a gambling habit and maybe even gambling addiction.
As The Guardian columnist Owen Jones put it, “aggressive gambling” like that on the Opera House is “bad for our health (and) also the health of society”. Why? Because it cajoles us into doing things that can be “life-ruining”, such as gambling.
In short, people are utterly lacking in agency. As if adverts invade our minds and reprogram us, turning us into the obedient robots of corporate bosses. Indeed, Jones sarcastically mocks the “libertarian” belief that people “can make their own decisions”.
This is what lies at the root of the Left’s fury with the Everest advertising and with corporate advertising more broadly: they don’t think we can make our own decisions. They think people are witless saps who suck up every message they hear.
And that is why they love it when places like the Opera House are coated in politically correct messages but hate it when they are decorated in corporate pleas: because they see the public as little more than a blob to be controlled, ideally by “us”, the virtuous elite, rather than by “them”, the greedy corporations.