BEHIND THE SPORTS DESK: Is Everest truly the tallest?
RACING: The horses took to a sodden Royal Randwick track to a lot of fanfare for The Everest, not all of it positive.
But regardless of opinions, the new feature on the annual Spring racing calendar was again a success despite the heavy surface under-hoof.
The Kerrin McEvoy-ridden Redzel led the $13 million feature from the early stages to post a clear victory of one and a quarter lengths over Trapeze Artist, in the process notching back-to-back Everest wins.
He did it in front of a record crowd of more than 40,000, which begs the question, has The Everest become Australia’s biggest race?
Moose is joined Behind the Sports Desk by special guest Northy to discuss.
MOOSE ELKERTON: Everest mountin’ an assault at Cup’s profile
THE Everest is a game-changer. Not only is it changing the racing industry, it has had an effect on the entire Australian sporting landscape.
The ‘Sport of Kings’ has been dominated by Flemington and the greater Victorian racing industry for the better part of a century.
But this race meet turned that on its head in two years.
Redzel claimed back-to-back wins in the $13 million feature last weekend in what were atrocious conditions for racing with the track pushing out to a heavy (9) before the gates opened for the feature event.
But it did not deter the punters from flocking to Royal Randwick, with 40,568 race fans setting a modern day attendance record at the track.
The conditions also didn’t deter the punters off the track from enjoying a responsible flutter, with betting turnover going beyond $100 million, and that’s with a few operators still to submit their final figures.
Its betting turnover is second in Australia only to the Melbourne Cup.
It still has a long way to go to eclipse the Melbourne Cup Carnival betting that reached $600 million last year – but this race is only in its infancy.
In two years, it has managed to drive a level of engagement that took the Melbourne Cup almost a century to reach.
While the Cup is traditional, that is not what the new wave of punters want.
They want excitement, they want exhilaration, they want something to change the game.
They want The Everest.
BILL ‘NORTHY’ NORTH: It takes a lifetime to build ‘greatest’ tagline
IT’S taken 157 years to build the Melbourne Cup’s status as Australia’s greatest sporting event.
‘Richest’ and ‘greatest’ are two very different things.
As a horse race, The Everest is arguably more relevant, raced over 1200m in a country where the majority of racehorses are sprinters.
But the Melbourne Cup is so much more than a two-mile horse race. The magic, fanfare and glitter that builds up to ‘the race that stops the nation’ captures the imagination almost as much as the race itself.
The Everest has been marketed to a younger audience and sure enough the majority of the 40,000 punters at Royal Randwick were under 35. Many of those, who live in the here and now, might agree The Everest has risen to the top, but their parents and grandparents would most likely beg to differ.
In reality The Everest can’t compete with the lingering aura and lifetime affinity the Melbourne Cup delivers for most Australians. It’s hashtag on Twitter might trend to Everest proportions, but it’s a sharp spike compared to the vast, Himalayan reach of the Melbourne Cup.
Racing NSW has been innovative and made enormous strides in raising the profile of the sport in Sydney, introducing The Championships during the Autumn Carnival and now The Everest to genuinely challenge its Victorian rivals as the nation’s leaders in the industry.
But to wrest the title of Australia’s greatest race, the momentum of The Everest needs to continue to snowball.
Ask me again in 10 years.
19th Oct 2018 11:00 AM