Bowan's buzzing about The Everest but my mind's on Caulfield
I have my doubts about The Everest, which is why Hugh Bowman’s enthusiasm at The Stables in Kensington (for coffee not horses) came as a bigger shock than a blast from Alan Jones.
‘‘Isn’t it exciting?’’ exclaimed the jockey.
Today’s 1200-metre Royal Randwick weight-for-age sprint, which struggles to make even the best three over the distance on the Australian calendar, just doesn’t do it for me, albeit there are $13 million reasons why it generates such support.
Seperate ways: The Autumn Sun, right, will contest the Caulfield Guineas while Graff, left, will go for The Everest.Credit:AAP
Bowman, however, is not a fly-off-the-handle sort of guy and so due consideration must be given as to why I prefer the corresponding meeting at Caulfield, traditionally one of the best of the season, with four group 1s and the promise this year of being exceptional.
Huge prizemoney doesn’t necessarily make a great contest but the promotion behind The Everest has exceeded any other for the industry. The cost would feed an army for three years.
The sparkle over the Opera House was the cherry on the cake of Peter V’landys, the strong man of NSW racing. Despite there being windbags on both sides of the argument, racing is entitled to emblazon itself across the Opera House sails considering the Wallabies had a good run under the stars and advertisements for a mobile telephone company were also deemed acceptable.
Victoria has a public holiday for the Melbourne Cup, the race that is regarded as one of Australia’s foremost sporting events. V’landy’s is striving to make The Everest at least the Sydney equivalent, which is commendable. Today’s race will appease the turnover god as it is an excellent betting medium, which will stir up the anti-gambling lobby. But gambling contributed to the iconic landmark.
Didn’t the Opera House lottery make a significant contribution? Incidentally, colourful racing personalities, Melbourne Mick Bartley and Perce Galea, also benefited from that lottery by taking out the top prize, a result that made them as keen on the Opera House as Bowman is on The Everest.
V’landys maintains that many of the newcomers attracted by The Everest (and the pop concert) won’t be going along to bet but for the occasion. They want to be part of a fun-loving race crowd, they are boozers rather than punters. Does that remind you of the Melbourne Cup?
Like Randwick, the Opera House has been sacred ground to me since Paul Robeson sang Old Man River when it was a harbourside building site. More recently under the sails, Kate Mulvany’s Richard III was epic as was Leonard Cohen in full voice. And Glen Campbell, with Beccy Cole on the undercard, rated alongside Winx and some of the great Randwick metric miles.
Maybe the experience at headquarters has been diminished by the absurd Theatre of the Horse but it still has the players, such as Bowman and Kerrin McEvoy, while Tye Angland rates the highest of The Everest climbers in Robbie Waterhouse’s monthly jockey ratings.
Despite the betting appeal of the event and Bowman’s infectious enthusiasm, Randwick today doesn’t grab me like Caulfield does, with Oohood against The Autumn Sun in the Caulfield Guineas and James McDonald, fresh from five Warwick Farm winners on Wednesday, in the saddle. Just how good is the colt and how good is the hoop? I want to be there to find out.
Will Smart Melody, another that will get the McDonald touch, add to her unbeaten record? Is she too fast to last the 1600 metres? And McDonald will take over from Bowman in the Toorak takes on Hartnell, so good in the Epsom last start but giving weight to strong opposition.
Add to them the Caulfield Stakes, often a stepping stone for the coming cups, with internationals making their debut here against the talented but still untapped Chris Waller pair D’argento and Unforgiven.
Forgive me, but amongst others, the likes of Redzel, Trapeze Artist, Bowman’s mount Brave Smash, and Graf don’t produce the same buzz. And US Navy Flag, the last-start Newmarket (UK) winner, could provide a knockout, which I don’t want to endure.
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