There’s a new player in the 2021 TAB Everest in the shape of businessman James Kennedy who has secured the GPI Racing slot for this year’s edition and while it’s only for one year at present it seems he plans to be in for the long haul.
Kennedy, 42, is Executive Chairman of the Luxury Group that carries his surname, which specialises in luxury watches and jewellery, but he’s been a growing presence in the Australian racing industry over the past few years.
He’s a sponsor of a number of feature races in Victoria, most notably the Oaks, and has established Kennedy Racing at Pakenham where trainer Caroline Jennings and assistant Roger Elliott prepare his horses.
Kennedy has long admired the Everest – this year worth $15m – and its immediate international attraction and didn’t want to miss out on the rare opportunity of being a part of it when one presented itself.
“Nobody can genuinely argue against the fact that The Everest is a major force in world racing, it has been from day one, and I’m so excited to have the chance to now be involved in it,’’ Kennedy said.
“I’m passionate about the racing industry and all it does for the care and wellbeing of these amazing animals and for the critical role it plays in our economy.
“I have a strong presence in Victoria through my sponsorship of the Kennedy Oaks and the Victoria Racing Club and now I’ll have a more formal presence in NSW by taking up this Everest slot.”
Two horses have already been locked in to Everest slots for 2021 – Nature Strip (Chris Waller Racing) and Masked Crusader (Whitby & Werrett) – but Kennedy said he doesn’t plan to make any early moves.
“I don’t have a specific horse in mind to fill the slot, I’ll just sit back and see what presents itself over the next few weeks and months,” he said.
“Ideally in time I would love to have one of my own horses represent the slot, that’s the dream, but for now it’s just such a thrill to be involved in the world’s richest race on turf.’’
The sale of the GPI Racing slot – for which the process was managed by Inglis – attracted global interest from the moment owner Greg Ingham announced he was offering it.
Inglis Managing Director Mark Webster welcomed Kennedy into the Everest fray as one of the 12 slot holders.
“James is an enthusiastic industry participant who has invested a lot of time and money into racing in recent years and to see him now involved in an Everest slot is testament to his belief in the concept and willingness to continue to invest,’’ Webster said.
“James continues to add to his growing band of racehorses and I wish him all the best in his quest for Everest glory. One thing is for sure – he will enjoy the ride, it’s fabulous fun.’’
Greg Ingham, whose star sprinter Chautauqua participated in the inaugural running of The Everest, also sold his slot last year, to MiRunners, but said he has no plans to relinquish the slot.
“The Everest is here to stay, the model works, it gets more and more popular each year and we are thrilled to be involved,” he said.
“Offering our slot for sale is purely a financial decision, Barb and I still remain heavily invested in the concept itself and we look forward to doing so for many years to come.’’
The fifth running of the TAB Everest takes place at Royal Randwick on October 16.