When it comes to racing in Australia, you could be forgiven for thinking that only the Melbourne Cup stands head and shoulders above all other races in the country.

After all, this is the event that not only stops the country in its tracks but is known world wide as one of the biggest days on the international racing calendar.

And for good reason. Its historic and cultural impact makes it one of the biggest races in the world, and winning it is an incredible achievement.

But what may surprise many is that it doesn’t even come close to being the most valuable race in the country. In fact, with regards to horse racing in Australia, it is The Everest that offers not only the biggest purse in the country but the third biggest in the world.

Worth a staggering $20 million, with the winner taking home £4,264,971.75, it may sit behind The Dubai Cup and The Saudi Cup in terms of overall prize money, but for a turf race, it is the richest in the world.

So why do so few racing fans outside of Australia know more about it?

Brief History

One of the main reasons it hasn’t quite reached the global level of fame as the Melbourne Cup is that it is actually a relatively new race.

Created by the Australian Turf Club (ATC) with an ambition to create a landmark event that could compete on the international stage, The Everest was inspired by the Pegasus World Cup in the United States and the Dubai World Cup.

First run in 2017, it marked a significant milestone in Australian horse racing and with an initial prize pool of $10 million, was designed to attract the world’s best sprinters down under.

That amount has since been increased and, in 2018, was worth $15 million before receiving another bump in 2023 to $20 million.

What sets it apart is its unique “slot” system, where owners purchase a spot in the race for a considerable fee, allowing them to enter a horse of their choosing.

That particular fee is not for the faint-hearted and currently stands at $700,000. But here’s the catch. The slot holder doesn’t even need to own a horse. They own the ‘slot,’ which means they can then negotiate deals with horse owners and trainers to buy it for even more money.

And with only 12 slots available, competition for a place is fierce, not to mention incredibly lucrative. While this approach is certainly unique, it has come under some criticism for over-commercialising horse racing.

Despite this, The Everest has enjoyed growing popularity and prestige and is now considered on a par with some of the biggest races in the world.

When & Where Is It On?

Run at a blistering pace over 1200 meters at Royal Randwick in Sydney, The Everest is a thoroughbred flat, held every October and is open to horses aged three years and above.

Adding to its uniqueness, it is also a weight-for-age race, which means that while it is not handicapped, the weight the horse runs off will depend on its age.

So, in 2023, three-year-olds carried 8-05, four-year-olds carried 8-13, and those aged five & above carried 9-03.

It’s a system that works as thoroughbreds of all ages have since won the race despite so few runnings of it to date.

For 2024, The Everest will take place on October 19th. It is Sydney’s showpiece on a day that also sees
the Group 1 $5 million King Charles III Stakes take place over 1600m.

Past Winners

With only seven Everest races run to date, the winners form a small but prestigious list with Redzel the only horse to have won the race in consecutive years.

His back-to-back wins cemented his status as a racing legend and set a high benchmark for future competitors.

Another standout is Classique Legend, who captured the hearts of racing enthusiasts with a stunning victory in 2020.

Demonstrating a breathtaking turn of speed, Classique Legend set the race’s fastest time, a testament to the exceptional quality that the event attracts.

Year Horse Age Jockey Trainer
2023 Think About It 5 Sam Clipperton Joseph Pride
2022 Giga Kick 3 Craig Williams Clayton Douglas
2021 Nature Strip 7 James McDonald Chris Waller
2020 Classique Legend 5 Kerrin McEvoy Les Bridge
2019 Yes Yes Yes 3 Glen Boss Chris Waller
2018 Redzel 6 Kerrin McEvoy Peter & Paul Snowden
2017 Redzel 5 Kerrin McEvoy Peter & Paul Snowden

Overcoming Challenges and Looking to the Future

Despite its popularity, The Everest has not been without its controversies. Debates over gambling, animal welfare, and the use of the Sydney Opera House sails for race promotion have sparked much public debate.

In fact, more than any other aspect of the race, it was the use of the Opera House in promotional material for the race that caused the greatest controversy.

In a nutshell, people saw it as using a beloved cultural landmark for commercial advertising. When its sails were used as a billboard for the race, many felt it cheapened the building’s significance and disrespected its artistic value.

With strong opinions on both sides, including a petition signed by over 300,000 people to stop the race organisers from using the iconic sails. It culminated with angry protests on the night that a six-minute light display over the Opera House was used to announce the barrier numbers for the Everest in 2018.

But it would seem that everybody has not moved on from the debacle and, looking ahead, The Everest’s trajectory seems poised for further growth and international acclaim.

With its innovative approach to horse racing and a proven model for economic success, the race could expand its global footprint, attracting more international competitors and spectators.

The evolution of sports betting, media rights, and digital engagement will only enhance its visibility and impact.

As such, The Everest remains not just a pinnacle of horse racing but a beacon of Australia’s exciting and engaging sporting landscape.

Which Race Is Better?

All of that leads us back to our original question. In a contest between the Melbourne Cup and The Everest Cup – which is better?

The answer is unsurprisingly subjective. If you’re into tradition, history, and the cultural aspects that surround horse racing, you might find the Melbourne Cup more appealing.

If you’re interested in a modern, high-stakes event that attracts the fastest sprinters, The Everest could be more exciting for you.

Whichever your preference, both races offer a unique experience, so the “better” event really depends on your personal interests.