By Geoff Newling
Country racing clubs could be reaping some rewards from the richest race in the world – the $10 million The TAB Everest.
The 1200m race will debut at Royal Randwick next Saturday with 12 of the best sprinters such as Chautauqua, Golden Slipper winner She Will Reign and Darren Weir’s Brave Smash, in the running.
It’s a race that has garnered a huge amount of press and could be helping country clubs also promote their local racing. Take for instance, Tamworth couple Bianca and Andrew Peiper. They had never raced horses before Andrew bought a 5% share in a filly with Darby Syndications - that was Golden Slipper winner, She Will Reign.
A $20,000 purchase as a yearling, she has now won more than $2.55m in prizemoney following her brilliant return to racing at Moonee Valley last week. It was an amazing win on a tough circuit, a brilliant return from a spell after the Golden Slipper to claim her fifth win in six starts.
“It’s freaky,” Andrew Peiper said before catching a flight back to Tamworth. “We thought she had got beat. We were right on the line and thought Viddora had won.”
That lasted an agonising 20 seconds or so before She Will Reign was semaphored the winner and the large syndicate of owners got to “imitate 35 Irish rugby players celebrating”.
She Will Reign’s effort to come from so far back on a tough track, made harder by the fact the running rail was out an extra 4m, was being lauded by one and all. She became one of few Golden Slipper winners to win a Group 1 race first-up from the Slipper too.
“We’re blessed,” Andrew continued. “Amazing this $20,000 horse has done what she has. Now we can start to think about The Everest. Gee, the trophy to win that is worth more than my house! But we are lucky to have a trainer like Gary Portelli. He’s a great bloke. A real horseman and a real decent bloke.”
Portelli has told the syndicate he might only run She Will Reign in The TAB Everest and then spell her: “Although he did say make sure your passports are up to date,” Andrew joked.
While The TAB Everest now looms large, Andrew is delighted his blossoming circle of friends can join in the celebrations. Everywhere he goes he is asked about She Will Reign and hopes all who back her are having just as good as time as he and Bianca are.
“The expectations are high now,” he said. “A lot of people are backing her and I don’t want her to lose for them. I had about 80 text messages five minutes after she won the other night, from friends and people I work with. It’s amazing but now I really thing we can win The Everest.”
Which shows just how much a fairy tale racing can be and how anyone can “get lucky” and find a winner whether it be to race at Bowraville, Ballina or Lismore, at the provincials or in the metropolitan areas.
Look at Gold Coast trainer Toby Edmonds. He started his career at Scone and now has Houtzen, last year’s Magic Millions winner, running in The TAB Everest. He celebrated a birthday last Wednesday and could be celebrating another massive moment next Saturday.
“We’ll be cheering for him,” said Ballina Jockey Club chief executive, Matt Bertram. “Aquis Farm is one of the slot holders for The Everest and they chose Toby’s horse, Houtzen. They are great sponsors of ours, so we’ll be cheering for them and wish them all the best. Toby comes down to Ballina a lot and has won plenty of races here lately. He’s a good guy and good supporter.”
While The Everest is aimed at the top end of the racing market it can still cater for fairy tale rides such as She Will reign and the Toby Edmonds.
“It’s a race that promotes racing and that then promotes our racing. We are a product of Racing NSW and they have put a lot of time and money into this race. It’s good for us with races like the Country Championships and the Highway races.
“The Country Championships have been a phenomenal success and the Highway races have been great for country trainers like Matt Dunn. He’s at Murwillumbah so we see the direct benefit of him winning those races. And he will have three or four horses in the rich Highway Championship Final next week as well.”
For Matt Bertram, a successful Ballina Cup Carnival now turns towards a Monday, November 6 - Wardell Cup meeting.
Lismore Turf Club secretary manager, Scott Jones and his team also had one of their best Lismore Cup meetings two weeks ago and are now preparing for a seven-race TAB meeting on Monday, October 23.