Another chapter in he ongoing war between Racing Victoria (RV) and Racing NSW (RNSW) was written last week when RNSW chief, Peter V'landys announced that all twelve slots for The Everest had now been filled. The $10 million prize money for the 1200m race cuts right through one of RV's key selling propositions by dwarfing the long held 'Richest Horse Race in Australia' title, the $6.2 million Melbourne Cup. The recently unveiled race serves another blow to the Victorian Melbourne Spring Carnival as its scheduled to run on Caulfield Guineas day, arguably the biggest day for RV outside of the two Cups and the Cox Plate.
Historically Sydney's Spring Carnival ends after Epsom Handicap Day. The RNSW would beg to differ highlighting the Spring Champion Stakes amongst a few Group 3 races, but the truth is that the most punters switch their focus solely on Melbourne after the Epsom. But that changes this year.
For years now Victoria has enjoyed the attention of the nation throughout most of October and into November as the best thoroughbreds in the country, and across the world, travel to its metropolitan and provincial courses in their quest to get their name on one of the coveted Group 1 trophies. But the shine on RV's armour that has glowed now for decades, is beginning to tarnish a little since The Everest was announced. The massive prize money will undoubtedly see Australia's top jockeys, trainers and punters who would have otherwise made the trip to Caulfield, now making a bee-line for Royal Randwick in the middle of Melbourne's prestigious party.
V'landys' announcement means that racing syndicate groups, owners and other interested parties have collectively committed $21.6M towards entry fees over the next three years which is expected to result in the best sprinters from Australia, and possibly the world, lining-up for a crack at the $5.8M first prize each year. Star two-year-old Houtzen and champion sprinter and recent TJ Smith Stakes winner Chautauqua are already confirmed starters.
It's hard to say what the financial impact will be on RV at this stage. There's no doubt that the uninterrupted run of attention through October and November enjoyed in years gone by has delivered RV and Victoria a financial bonanza. But that is clearly under threat now.
Racing War Continues
The unveiling of The Everest by RNSW is another shot across the bow in the ongoing war between the two racing authorities. The last clash came back in February 2016 when RV shortened the interval between Saturday metropolitan races to be 30 minutes rather than the traditional 40 minute intervals. The move resulted in scheduling conflicts between Sydney and Melbourne start times, leaving punters scurrying between races to get their next bet on. RV's experiment created disgruntled punters, broadcasters and bookmakers, and resulted in the entire industry losing money before RV came back into line
It's hard to see RV laying down and letting their treasured Spring Carnival play second fiddle on one of the key days in its carnival. Rumours have it that they are likely to take a 'wait and see' approach with speculation rife that the concept is unproven and is likely to fail. As slot owners are required to commit three years in advance, intended starters may not be fit at the time the race arrives leaving slot-owners with a $1.8 million liability and a significant risk that they can't make money off it.
RNSW are confident about their product however, citing the success of the US Pegasus World Cup which is run in Florida using a similar model, as evidence that it won't fail.
Whoever the eventual winner is in this war between the south eastern states of Australia one thing is for sure - punters are about to be treated to one of the greatest Australian spring racing carnivals in history of Australian racing.