Red-letter Day: ‘I feel like we have got our Winx’
REDZEL, Sydney's super sprinter, is the very reason The Everest just works.
Where else can you find a Chinese billionaire teaming up with a bunch of everyday Australians to win the world's richest turf race.
Before a bumper crowd of 40,578, the biggest Sydney racetrack attendance in more than 15 years, Redzel sprinted into racing's history books with a second successive win in the $13 million The TAB Everest (1200m) on Saturday.
Suddenly, Redzel's 17 owners - put together by Triple Crown Syndications Michael and Chris Ward and including people from all walks of life, including a police officer, schoolteacher, doctor, taxi driver, concreter, electrician, pharmacist, cricket coach and a security guard - were celebrating with their slot-holder, Yuesheng Zhang, a Chinese billionaire with varied worldwide business interests, including mines, wind farms and hotels.
As the saying goes: "All men are equal when they walk onto a racetrack".
Standing nearby, with a tears welling in his eyes was trainer Peter Snowden.
"I can't believe this,'' said Snowden, who trains in partnership with his son, Paul.
"To win it once I thought we were very lucky. To win it again is unbelievable.
"I hope I don't fall out of bed tonight and this is all a dream.''
Snowden's wife, Lyn, stood proudly in the background as her husband was swamped by well-wishers and media.
"I feel like we have got our Winx,'' she said. "Redzel is just amazing.''
Syndicator Chris Ward was shaking his head in disbelief before putting some perspective into Redzel's historic achievement.
"Archer won the first two Melbourne Cups and now we have Redzel winning the first two Everests,'' he said.
"To win the first Everest was unbelievable. To win the second one is beyond our wildest dreams.''
His brother, Michael, said to win an Everest twice with Redzel was unthinkable.
"I have been overseas on a family holiday and I managed to read some of the flak that Peter V'landys was copping, which was just unwarranted,'' Michael Ward said.
"What he has done for this sport is incredible. He is a genius for making this Everest concept work.''
Redzel ($8.50), brilliantly rated in front by Kerrin McEvoy, led throughout to win The Everest by one-and-a-quarter lengths from a very game Trapeze Artist ($10) with Osborne Bulls ($21) coming right down the outside fence to finish third, one-and-a-half lengths away.
Shoalsk was sent out the $5 favourite but was struggling before the turn and finished 11th, more than 13 lengths behind the winner.
Redzel took his prizemoney to a staggering $15,372,000, passing Makybe Diva's $14,526,690 to move into second on the all-time prizemoney list behind Winx with $19,884,924.
But unlike last year, Peter Snowden conceded Redzel's Everest preparation didn't exactly go like clockwork.
Redzel won the Concorde Stakes brilliantly first-up but then got cast in his box and was a race-morning scratching from The Shorts.
The Snowden's had to revamp Redzel's Everest program and their sprinter ran only fifth in his lead-up, the Premiere Stakes.
"Redzel has been in that box at our stables for two-and-a-half years and never done that before,'' Snowden said.
"It mucked up his whole preparation, it wasn't on the cards for that to happen.
"But I think we might have got some help from the guy upstairs. I have to say I am not a religious man but I do believe in God.
"We had a bit of work to do from his last-start defeat but I was confident the horse had made the necessary improvement.
"Kerrin gave him a masterly ride. He judged the pace perfectly and gave the horse every chance to finish off hard. He did it tough today, he did it from the front so I take my hat off to him, I'm so proud of him.''
Sky Racing's Greg Radley then asked Snowden if Redzel could return and win a third Everest next year.
"Three would be too much to ask, I suppose,'' Snowden said. "We are just going to lap up today.''