Slot holder Whitby's strong Everest hand
Chris Barclay 9 months ago
Max Whitby appeared rueful when he drew barrier 10 for Vega Magic, but the prominent horse owner still believes he's on a winner by holding a slot in The Everest.
Whitby initially flinched at the financial outlay needed to be a part of the world's richest turf race, but as Saturday's showpiece at Randwick looms he is confident it will prove to be a wise business decision.
"I baulked at the three-year commitment, $1.8 million is a fair bit of money," he said.
Whitby then watched as the concept gathered momentum.
"I think next year it will be worth a lot more money, and the year after it'll be worth even more," he said.
"It'll just grow, it'll be black-type, I consider it a Group One now.
"I think there'll be a few people pulling our coats in year two or three to try and buy the slot off us. It's another market inside a market."
Ultimately Black Caviar's managing owner Neil Werrett cajoled his mate to get involved.
"Neil said 'let's go' and we went bang - in a controlled manner," Whitby said.
He drew up a shortlist that included Everest rivals Redkirk Warrior and English before settling on Vega Magic, who makes his Sydney debut when the stakes couldn't be higher.
Whitby would have preferred to draw closer but his disappointment was soon tempered by trainer David Hayes and the TAB market.
Vega Magic shortened from $6 before Tuesday's draw on Sydney Harbour to $5, due in part to one $20,000 outlay.
Three-time TJ Smith Stakes winner Chautauqua ($5.50) is joint second elect while Golden Slipper winner She Will Reign continues to head betting on the 12-strong field as a $4.80 chance.
Vega Magic had his first gallop at Randwick on Monday and had a final tune-up on Thursday to become more familiar with the Sydney way of running.
Hayes is unconcerned about the barrier, saying Craig Williams had the opportunity to press forward and find a spot behind Redzel and Houtzen.
"His only defeats in Perth were when he was inside and covered up. He likes to have an uninterrupted run," Hayes said.
Redkirk Warrior, who will be ridden by Irish jockey Jamie Spencer, and Tulip also represent Lindsay Park as $9 and $61 chances respectively.