everest horse race
The Everest: The richest horse race on turf
02:10 - Source: CNN

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The Everest is world's richest race on turf

Australian race has prize pot of $13m

Raced at Randwick in Sydney in October

CNN  — 

It’s known as “The Everest,” but the world’s richest horse race on turf is just one peak in the journey to lure back lost generations of fans to the sport.

Organizers of the $13 million race in Sydney hope the bumper prize pot and new approach will entice millennials and build a brighter future for racing.

“The Everest” was inspired by Florida’s Pegasus World Cup, the richest race in the world, which also began in 2017 with an initial prize pot of $12 million, since upped to $16m.

This year The Everest has $13 million up for grabs. By the year 2020 it could be worth as much as $15 million, according to Peter V’landys, chief executive of Racing New South Wales and one of the driving forces behind the race.

Young racegoers enjoy the inaugural Everest race.

“It’s exciting, it’s new and what we find with the younger generation is they don’t want to do what their parents do,” V’landys told CNN’s Winning Post.

“When the parents went on Facebook, the kids went off it to Snapchat and Instagram. Well it’s the same here. It’s their race.

“The Everest is their generational race, its the one they can engage in … and we still get the parents, but really it’s designed for the under-35s.”

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‘Very big earn’

For the 1,200-meter race, 12 “slots” – which buy a position in the starting gate – are sold for a total of $7.2 million, a figure which is then matched by the organizers to double the prize pot.

These “slot” owners can then either decide to race their own horse or strike deals with horse owners to rent their horse and then divide any potential winnings.

“In Australia, the trainer gets 10% and the jockey gets 5%, so a jockey can now in one race, race for $300,000 and the trainer actually wins $600,000 in one race,” V’landys says.

“That’s a very big earn considering our minimum wage here in Australia is $70,000 a year. They can get $300,000 and $600,000 in a matter of two or three minutes. In the scale of things it’s very big.”

Jockey Christophe Soumillon rides Thunder Snow across the finish line to win the Dubai World Cup horse race at the Dubai World Cup in the Meydan Racecourse on March 31, 2018 in Dubai. / AFP PHOTO / GIUSEPPE CACACE        (Photo credit should read GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images)
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‘Keep innovating’

V’landys is acutely aware of the challenges he faces to make the sport more millennial friendly, but the inaugural Everest race gives him cause for optimism.

Some 74% of the audience that attended the event at Randwick was under 35 and 61% had never been to the racecourse before.

“We want to keep innovating, if you don’t innovate you perish,” he says. “If you stay complacent and think people will come, they won’t.

“You’ve got to look for new things and you’ve got to look for things that the younger generation can engage in.

SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES - APRIL 08:  Winx and jockey Hugh Bowman cross the line to win the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Royal Randwick Racecourse on April 8, 2017 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Brook Mitchell/Getty Images for The ATC)
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“I think racing right around the world, not just Australia, has missed one or two generations and we don’t want to be making that same mistake again.

“We’ve got to do a lot of research on what they like, on what they will engage in to make sure that thoroughbred racing has a future in the next 10 years.”

The Everest is now the richest race in Australia – far outstripping the prestigious Melbourne Cup – but V’landys is setting his sights even higher.

“We’re happy to have the richest race on turf and if, one day, it’s the richest race in the world, then we’ll be happy with that as well,” he said.