ockey Kerrin McEvoy (right) and his wife Cathy celebrate winning the Everest 2017 horse race, the world richest turf race on Redzel at Royal Randwick race course in Sydney on October 14, 2017. PHOTO | PETER PARKS | AFP
SYDNEY – 14 October 2017: Redzel beat Vega Magic in a thrilling inaugural Everest race in Sydney on Saturday, the world's richest on turf that organisers hope will one day rival the prestigious Melbourne Cup.
With Kerrin McEvoy in the saddle, the five-year-old gelding hit the lead with 100 metres to go at Royal Randwick to collect Aus$5.8 million (US$4.6 million) in winnings.
The Craig Williams-ridden Vega Magic was second with Brave Smash third and the world's top rated sprinter and favourite, seven-year-old Chautauqua, fourth.
"So privileged to be riding this horse. He's so patient this fella," said an elated McEvoy.
"It's still early in his career and he's paying the dividends now.
"It's so exciting to be part of this, such a huge buzz."
The race over 1200 metres (3/4 mile or six furlongs) brought together the 12 best sprinters in Australia, angling for a slice of a whopping Aus$10 million in prize money.
The winnings eclipsed the prize money offered in Australia's iconic Melbourne Cup, where tens of thousands of punters gather in November to watch world champion thoroughbreds race for Aus$6.2 million.
The Dubai World Cup and newly-introduced Pegasus World Cup in the United States carry more prize money, but they are raced on dirt.
Despite the lure of so much cash, the race failed to attract any overseas entrants, controversially clashing with Melbourne's Caulfield carnival, which a host of internationals opted for instead.
But it was still a cracking field with the runners boosting countless titles.
Houtzen came out of the gates quickest and was the early leader but the Peter and Paul Snowden-trained Redzel, who was always sitting on his outside in the high-tempo race, sprinted to the lead with 100m to go.
Under the innovative concept, buyers were 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 able to sell, lease or joint venture their slots prior to the entry date.
Those on board included 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.