By Ray Hickson
He came so close to winning the inaugural Everest and for slot holder Max Whitby it’s made him even more determined to pick the right horse for the 2018 edition.
Of course slot holders committed for three years, paying $600,000 per year, and the success of the event has encouraged him to stick with the concept that dazzled Sydney last Saturday for the foreseeable future.
“We have an option for the fourth year and I reckon I’m going to be around until I fall off the perch. I don’t see why not,’’ he said.
The partnership of Whitby and Neil Werrett raced Vega Magic with the horse’s owners and the sprinter was widely regarded as being unlucky not to claim the $10 million feature.
Whitby said he wouldn’t change how he approached the first running of the Everest though believes fewer horses may be locked in as early as they were this year.
“We made the decision to wait, wait, wait and we have no regrets about that at all,’’ Whitby said.
“The conclusions Neil and I have come to in the last 48 hours is it comes down to who you are dealing with.
“It was all strategy and timing and I don’t think that will go away. I think (slot holders) will probably stay as long as the Premiere but there might be a completely different collection of horses.
“You don’t know what is going to come from the Europeans but I know there are a lot of enquiries, people are starting to ring me from various parts of the world.
“There could be a market in trading slots, not that we would be interested in that. But it’s been a fascinating process and exercise.’’
One of Whitby’s first priorities will be seeing if he and Werrett can source a horse of their own to race in The Everest in 2018.
He said while he had Redzel down as his second choice he was beaten to the punch by James Harron and puts it down to business being business.
“He’s got 300 horses and I’ve got 100 so you’d think we can get one out those,’’ he said.
“You don’t have to do all the negotiating with everyone and that’s probably the hardest part.
“The winner was definitely on our radar but James knocked us off at the post and good luck to him.’’
Whitby has been racing horses for decades and wanted to single out Racing NSW chief executive Peter V’landys for his vision and dedication to the Everest concept.
“At the end of the day he has to be given all the accolades,’’ he said.
“He believed in the concept and backed his judgement, there were doubters and naysayers early on but they’ve all been kicked out of the ball park.’’
And as a long time racegoer Whitby said he couldn’t have been prouder looking out among the 33,000 strong crowd that packed Randwick.
He said the feeling on course was unlike anything he can remember and is adamant a day and an event has been created that can be built on in coming years.
“I’ve been around a while but to walk out there and watch your horse and look back at the grandstand it was thrilling to say the least,’’ he said.
“It really made the spectacular event that it was and I think it was over and above everyone’s expectations.’’