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Sports

AFP
October 14, 2018

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Redzel wins The Everest, world’s richest turf race

SYDNEY: Redzel won the world’s richest turf race for the second straight time in Sydney Saturday, storming to victory ahead of a host of top-rated sprinters to clinch The Everest crown.

With Kerrin McEvoy in the saddle, he took a commanding lead out of the gate at Royal Randwick and was never seriously challenged to collect Aus$6.0 million (US$4.2 million) in winnings. Between intermittent showers and before a crowd of 40,000, the Tye Angland-ridden Trapeze Artist was second with Osborne Bulls third.

“I was a bit more relaxed today, last year was a whirlwind,” said an ecstatic McEvoy in celebrating his second successive win. “Having done it last year put me in good stead for this year. I had a nice amount of confidence that the horse was going to do well given the rain.

“It’s amazing and I’m really thrilled,” he added. “This race is just going to get bigger and better.” The race over 1200 metres (3/4 mile or six furlongs) brought together some of the world’s best sprinters, angling for a slice of a whopping Aus$13 million in prize money.

The winnings were Aus$3 million more than in the inaugural race last year and easily top that offered at Australia’s iconic Melbourne Cup, where tens of thousands of punters gather in November to watch world champion thoroughbreds race. Only the Pegasus World Cup in the United States carries more prize money, but it is raced on dirt.

Despite the lure of so much cash, The Everest attracted only one overseas entrant — American-bred and European-based US Navy Flag, ridden by Englishman Ryan Moore. But it was still a cracking field with the runners boosting countless titles.

“It was a masterful ride and Kerrin judged it perfectly,” Redzel co-trainer Peter Snowden said.

“He did it tough today. He lead from the front and I am just so proud of the horse.”

Under an innovative concept, buyers were last year invited to purchase a Aus$600,000 slot in the race and do a deal with owners and jockeys to secure the top horses.

Those who splashed the cash were required to commit for three years, ensuring the race’s future, but have been able to sell, lease or joint venture their slots prior to the entry date.

Among those invested are private enterprises like Sydney’s Star Casino and betting operator Tabcorp. Racing identities such as Max Whitby and Damion Flower also bought in, as did several cashed-up stud farms.

Redzel was run by Yulong Investments, a company established by racing-mad Chinese businessman Yuesheng Zhang, who has emerged as a major player in Australian thoroughbred racing and breeding in recent years.

The idea for The Everest came from Racing NSW chief executive Peter V’landys, who modelled it on the Pegasus World Cup, run over 1800m.

But it has been controversial with Racing NSW and the Australian Turf Club scheduling it in Sydney to clash with the Caulfield Guineas meeting in Melbourne.

It has nevertheless proved a huge success and V’landys has plans to swell the prize money even more.

“We want it to be the biggest prize money of any race in the world, not just the biggest on turf,” he told reporters ahead of this year’s race. “You’ve got to have dreams, and that’s our dream.”

While it has caught the imagination, the lead-up this year was overshadowed by a heated row after the New South Wales state government allowed organisers to promote the race as a light show on the white sails of the Sydney Opera House. Thousands of protesters argued the world-famous building should not be used to encourage gambling and used flashlights to try and disrupt the projections.

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