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By Graham Potter | Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Something to ponder in the wake of prize-money for The Everest being lifted from $15 million to $20 million.

In the last three years thirty-six horses have contested The Everest from twenty stables.

Those thirty-six rides have been taken by nineteen jockeys.

Chris Waller and James Cummings have had five starters each over the last three editions of The Everest … that’s 27% of all runners. Throw in Joe Pride with his four starters into that mix and it means that 39% of all the runners in The Everest over the last three years have been presented by just three trainers.

James McDonald, Nash Rawiller, Kerron McEvoy and Sam Clipperton have all had a ride in each of the last three runnings of The Everest …that’s twelve out of the thirty-six rides which means just four jockeys have landed a third of the available rides over the period in question.

A further nine riders have had two Everest rides over the last three years … that means that only thirteen riders … in a field of twelve each year remember … have been booked for 83% of the rides available.

Two points.

Firstly, of course pure logic says it was always going to be that way.

A huge money race is going to attract the best horses which, more often than not, will come from big stables with big buying power … with some exceptions (how wonderful an exception to the rule it was with Giga Kick winning last year) … and slot holders and owners alike will want those top horses to be ridden by the very best jockeys.

Hence, while the stats, which speaks to a large degree to the participation for privileged at the expense of the average owner and trainer in The Everest, do not lie, they also serve to confirm the fundamentals on which the concept of the race was constructed … starting with the massive price slot holders pay for the right to select their runner for the big race.

While nobody is excluded, the balance of power lies with the rich … but that was The Everest game from the start, so no-one can argue after the fact and neither should they criticize those best placed to take advantage of the situation.

Secondly, that being said and the ground rules established … what is the value to anyone other than those directly in line to benefit from the latest financial boost that Racing NSW racing has given to The Everest, pushing the race prize-money to $20 million?

In other words, what difference can it make?

Will it attract a better quality field? Will it increase turnover on The Everest race-day? Will the overseas interest the money aspect will gain tempt international trainers and will that temptation translate into top overseas sprinters heading down-under to add an extra dimension to the race?

Will the global coverage it attracts in terms of pure racing news bring any lasting added value to the Australian racing brand or will it disappear in the twenty-four hour news cycle as is the case with many top races throughout the world, particularly as racing’s relentless schedule moves along at such a pace?

In other words, if the question, what difference will the prize-money increase make, can be definitively answered, then will we know whether it is worth it or not.

Finally, why should anybody care if the jump to $20 million in prize-money is worth it or not?

The Everest is a big show-piece event. It is a great race-day out and, whichever way you look at it, it has become one of Australia’s biggest racing promotions with Racing NSW’s concentrated marketing approach ensuring that the race is lodged in the racing enthusiasts psyche early in the piece and stays there for many months in the buildup to the race-day itself..

The fact that racing is not a one-tier industry though means there is far more than just one perspective that should be taken into account.

From the middle-of-the-roaders to the battlers … who, together, form the majority of racing’s stakeholders in term of numbers, there will be opinions aplenty … and you would imagine that some of them will be pretty strongly worded.

Many of those opinions will be centred on whether that extra $5 million hitched onto the tailcoat of The Everest can be put to better use … put to boost general lesser prize-money pools, put into track maintenance / upgrades and a myriad of other possibilities, or not.

Ah, but we won’t go there now.

That is another big story in its own right.

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