When the dust settles on today's richest horse race on turf, the A$10 million Everest at Randwick, one statistic more than any other will be dissected - the betting turnover.

After all, depending on the type of race, 80 to 90 per cent of all of racing's revenues come from the punter.

But there will be a mitigating factor - this race is not solely about betting - it is a naked attempt by New South Wales to drag some of the attention away from Victoria's big three, Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup, all run within 18 days, starting next Saturday.

The NSW, Victorian rivalry, particularly in racing, has its own legend.


It is not insignificant that also today is Melbourne's A$2m Caulfield Guineas, A$1m Caulfield Stakes, for which New Zealand's Bonneval is favourite, as well as the half million 1000 Guineas and Toorak Handicap.

The Everest concept is a copy of Florida's Pegasus World Cup, run for the first time this January and won by world champion Arrogate. That format required 12 investors to each pay US$1m to purchase a starting position for a then unspecified horse. The purchaser then had the right to race, lease, contract or share a starter, or sell their slot.

The Everest required 12 such investors to come up with A$600,000 for each of the first three years.

Launching a sweepstake-type race in this part of the world was a gigantic gamble, but it has paid off in spades. The spots were relatively quickly and easily filled and the interest the race has generated is way beyond the wildest dreams of Racing NSW chief executive Peter V'landys.

The astute V'landys does not totally accept NSW is pillaging Victoria in the public interest stakes.

"The irony is that one of the biggest winners has been Victoria," he told the press last week. The Victorian form of a number of Everest contenders dragged everyone's attention, he says. "Everyone was watching the Moir Stakes at Moonee Valley, where She Will Reign (Everest favourite) was unbelievable. So was Houtzen on the same night and the Melbourne runs of Redkirk Warrior and Brave Smash gave more attention to those races than ever before."

There is an air of elitism around the race, which V'landys is also quick to hit to the boundary.

He points to the fact that a number of the syndicate members in She Will Reign have not previously raced a horse and that at A$20,000 she is the cheapest purchase in the race.

The syndicate includes a builder, five former footy teammates, an unemployed housewife, three coalminers, a carpenter, a podiatrist, a teacher, a landscaper, hospital worker, ice cream factory worker, two small business owners, nurse, family carer and a retiree and the filly has already won for them the world's richest juvenile race on turf, the Golden Slipper.

And it has not cost them to run in the Everest. Billionaire Chinese businessman Yuesheng Zhang bought the A$600,000 slot for the filly on behalf of the bunch of battlers from Sydney's west.

"If that doesn't say something for racing, what does," says V'landys.

Last November, TABcorp (NSW, ATC and Victoria TAB) handled A$94.5m on the Melbourne Cup. The Everest will come nowhere close to that because field size - 24 v 12 - is a massive determining factor, but it will be a major surprise if half that is not bet today.

But as we said, this is not solely about betting.

It may not have heritage - for this writer the Melbourne Cup is the world's greatest race - but everyone will be watching.

And, in one way or another, winning.