Racegoers at Royal Randwick have celebrated big time as the Everest, the world’s richest turf race officially, kicks off eight weeks of spring racing.
All eyes were on the Everest race which had a record $20m of prize money up for grabs.
Think About It, the race favourite five-year-old gelding ridden by Sam Clipperton, claimed the podium, followed by I Wish I Win and Private Eye in third place.
Minutes after the race, the emotional jockey said he “can’t believe” the result.
“This stuff doesn’t happen,” he told Channel 7.
“It just went too perfect. I guess that’s what very good horses do. Maybe even champions. “They eliminate the opposition.
“I’m just so privileged to be in a position of riding this horse … I’m going to pass out.”
Crowds began gathering at the gates of the Sydney racecourse from 10am, showing off their best fashion, with organisers saying more than 20,000 people had arrived by 1pm.
A daring new trend has hit the field, with women turning up in cut-out dresses as the mercury hits a warm 29C on Saturday.
Younger attendees shied away from classic race wear, with summer patterns proving popular.
With Sydney providing it’s best weather, punters looked ready for a day in the sun with high heels, strappy dresses and many fascinators.
The event, now in its seventh year, rivals Melbourne’s famous Spring racing carnival in size and popularity.
In Melbourne, it was Caulfield Guineas day, one of the opening days of Victoria’s Spring Carnival.
Punters from across the country focused on Randwick at 4.15pm, when the Everest ran.
Just ahead of the race the odds had narrowed with Think About It in pole position (3.35) followed by I Wish I Win (5.00) and Private Eye (7.75).
— Australian Turf Club (@aus_turf_club) October 14, 2023
Running alongside the TAB Everest for the first time is the $5m King Charles III stakes, which offers a replica of the monarch’s own crown.
“It’s the exact replica of the crown,” Racing NSW chief executive Peter V’landys said.
“I think it’s actually more expensive than the Crown, the way the jeweller has charged me!”
The trophy was designed by Sydney jeweller Nic Cerrone, who created the 8000-diamond studded trophy for The Everest and is based very closely on the real thing.
Possibly as important to some attendees, the music line-up of Empire of the Sun and Hot Dub Time Machine are expected to keep crowds rocking all day.
Australian Turf Club spokesman Brett DeVine told The Daily Telegraph the “second to none” racing fixture was shaping up well.
“We’ve had a different focus this year. We’ve been trying to drive young people to this event.
“It’s new, it’s bold, it’s brash, the energy is electric.”
The Everest is the world's richest turf race and was increased from $15m last year.
It is now second in prize money to only the $28m Saudi Cup which is run on a dirt track.
Runners for the TAB Everest are allocated using a unique format, in which 12 entities chip in $700,000 to own a slot in the race.