Sydney Row Awaits Aidan O Brien
Hard to beat a good day at the races and if you've been rained on while socialising at a meeting in Ireland, it's worth visiting a course abroad to see how they do things there.
Ireland's equine industry is world renowned and a quarter of a century after Vintage Crop changed the face of Australian racing with a momentous Melbourne Cup victory, US Navy Flag is set to try and break new ground this coming weekend in a race that's gripped Australia.
Not in Melbourne on this occasion, but Aidan O’Brien’s charge will be the first international competitor to line up in what is now the world’s most valuable turf race – the $13 million ‘Everest’ – at the Randwick track in Sydney this Saturday.
The three year old will be O’Brien’s first ever runner in Sydney and the Tipp party will fly into a marketing row when they land, not that, that will be of concern to him.
The Ballydoyle trainer has made the frame twice in the Melbourne Cup and landed Australia’s top weight for age race, The Cox Plate, with Adelaide in 2015.
His son, Joseph, memorably landed last year’s Melbourne Cup with Rekindling, beating O’Brien Snr’s hope, Johannes Vermeer, over the world famous two mile test.
US Navy Flag has been based at the Canterbury quarantine centre and is a 10-1 shot in many ante-post betting lists.
As I was reminded by the Nenagh trainer himself at Kildare's Junction 14, Randwick’s six furlongs has already seen an Irish Group One success as Tom Hogan’s stalwart performer, Gordon Lord Byron, won the TJ Smith Stakes there in 2014.
The Everest is Australia’s richest race and is now the richest turf race in the world.
The race boasts a total prize pool of $13,000,000 and all horse owners must pay a $600,000 entry fee to race.
The field limit is 12 horses with the race introduced to lure the best International sprinters from around the world.
However the marketing people have upset culture vultures ahead of the race.
Advertising the horse race on the sails of the Sydney Opera House has prompted a large backlash in Australia.
The World Heritage-listed site showed the advert only after an order by the New South Wales premier.
Critics say the decision defies Sydney Opera House rules by effectively creating a "billboard" for the racing and gambling industries.
But others, including Prime Minister Scott Morrison, have defended it as positive for the economy and tourism.
More than 150,000 people have signed an online petition calling for the opera house to be "protected".
The Sydney Opera House, inaugurated in 1973, is recognised by the UN as a "masterpiece of 20th Century architecture".
It was declared a Unesco World Heritage site in 2007.
The Sydney Opera House board initially rejected the advert for the Everest Cup - arguing it was an "inappropriate" commercialisation.
They lost that battle though.
Ethics in sport? Who needs that? Go Aiden O Brien anyway!