Sign up to the TDN daily edition

Enter your details below to subscribe to the TDN Australia & NZ daily edition.

The Everest and the Art of the Deal - Flower the early adopter

7 min read
No-one was more enthusiastic about The Everest concept when it was first announced in February 2017 than slot-holder and Jadeskye Racing owner Damion Flower.

No-one was more enthusiastic about The Everest concept when it was first announced in February 2017 than slot-holder and Jadeskye Racing owner Damion Flower.

Flower, who famously bought now champion stallion Snitzel as a yearling, immediately saw the potential of The Everest to capitalise on Australia's love of both a big event and fast horses.

"I was sitting at a barbecue and someone broke the news. As soon as I heard the idea of it, I text Peter Vlandys straight away and organised a meeting," Flower told TDN Aus NZ.

"Everyone knows I love to buy speed horses and when he said a weight-for-age 1200m race at Randwick valued at $10 million, it just grabbed me."

"As soon as I heard the idea of it, I text Peter Vlandys straight away and organised a meeting." - Damion Flower

Flower was quick to put up his money, in fact he was the first slot holder locked in for the $600,000 annual commitment. But while he loved the concept, it was because it made strategic business sense that he decided to invest.

"I did it because down the track I want to have a Jadeskye horse to make into a stallion and I didn’t want to be fighting or negotiating with a slot holder to get it in," he said.

Getting the deal done

That dream is yet to come to fruition for Flower. Last year, his slot went to the Cressfield-owned Clearly Innocent (Not a Single Doubt {Aus}) and he has already locked down English (Encosta De Lago {Aus}) as his runner this year. He has one of his own horses targeted at the 2019 edition, but more on that later.

"I just came back to analysing the form and thought, 'she's the one for me this year,' - Damion Flower on English.

The deal for English was done with the mare's owners, Newhaven Park, back in June.

"It was around Royal Ascot time and I was waiting on a couple of horses there. I was waiting on Lady Aurelia and Harry Angel and Charles Kelly from Newhaven contacted me and put a little proposal through to me," Flower said.

English holds off Redzel in the 2017 Challenge Stakes

"Everyone knows English, she's a great mare and I went over her race record and sat down and spoke with Charles."

"What he put forward to me was really, really gripping. She's had 26 starts, she's a six year-old and her first start was maiden, but every other race has been group racing."

"Her first start was maiden, but every other race has been group racing" - Damion Flower on English's race history

"I was looking at others. I just came back to analysing the form and thought, 'she's the one for me this year'."

Flower said the deal in the end was straight forward and he and Kelly nutted it out in 'less than 30 minutes'.

Everest early birds

Having his Everest business done and dusted over three months' out for the world's richest turf race was a stark contrast to last year when Flower only shored up Clearly Innocent as his runner with less than two weeks to go.

"I was the last one to take a horse last year," he said. "I was that close to getting (eventual winner) Redzel. I was talking to Triple Crown and James Harron got that one ahead of me. He would have been my first choice because I was looking for a son of Snitzel."

Flower's decision to lock down a runner early follows a trend across the board this year. Ten of The Everest spots have already been determined some six weeks out from the race.

"I just think this year, everyone knows the concept and I just wanted to give the horse and the trainers and owners, the relief of knowing where they had to go. They knew what they had to do and they weren't scurrying for a slot," he said.

"I'm glad I took her (English), because I wouldn’t like to be sitting on the sidelines right now."

The Everest explosion

The intrigue around the slot-holding process, and not just the massive $13 million on offer, has created a significant level of anticipation around The Everest.

"Last month, everyone was in Saratoga talking about it before that they were at Royal Ascot talking about it."

While he was one of the first to see the potential of the concept, Flower is still amazed by how far it has come.

"I knew it would grip Australia because we are racing fanatics and sports fanatics but not quite the phenomenon that it has become already," he said.

"Last month, everyone was in Saratoga talking about it before that they were at Royal Ascot talking about it."

"I had no doubt in the world it would work and capture the imagination of everyone, I thought it might have taken three years, but it is there already."

The perfect combination

"I have no doubt in my mind that I will get a Jadeskye horse there sooner or later, and I hope it is by Snitzel." - Damion Flower

The last step of the dream for Flower is to get one of his own horses running in the race in the famous Jadeskye Racing colours of the red with white spots.

"I have no doubt in my mind that I will get a Jadeskye horse there sooner or later, and I hope it is by Snitzel," he said.

"We have a very brilliant horse at the moment and that's Sandbar (Snitzel {Aus}). I sat down with (trainer) Brad Widdup and we came to the conclusion (this year) that it might be 12 months too early for him."

"If everything goes to plan and Sandbar kicks on … 12 months down the line, this is what this horse will be aimed for. If I can be in this predicament in 12 months' time, having Sandbar in this position, I'd be over the moon."

Jadeskye owned Sandbar winning the Listed Lonhro Plate at Warwick Farm

As for the debate over whether The Everest deserves Group 1 status, Flower believes it should happen, but he's not sure it matters given the quality of horses the race is now attracting.

"If you have a colt by a very good stallion, that is going to be viable to breeders, and you have on it 'Everest Winner' it won't need a Group 1. You've got the winner of the richest turf race in the world," he said.

"We've got ten horses in this year's race, nine of them have won Group 1s. You can imagine the impact on the value if you've got a colt that has beaten nine G1 winners in a race."

Where To Now for The Everest Runners

Redzel (Yulong Investments): G3 Concorde S (1000m) - Randwick - September 1

Trapeze Artist (Aquis): G2 Theo Marks (1300m) - Warwick Farm - September 8

In Her Time (TAB): Trial at Newcastle, September 19, Resumes in G2 Premiere S, Randwick - September 29

Vega Magic (James Harron): G1 Memsie S, Caulfield - September 1

English (Damion Flower): Trial at Rosehill, September 3, then the G2 The Shorts, Randwick - September 15

Shoals (The Star): Likely to be the G2 McEwen S, Moonee Valley - September 8

Santa Ana Lane (Inglis): G3 The Heath 1100 S, Caulfield - September 1

Brave Smash (Chris Waller Racing): G3 The Heath 1100 S, Caulfield - September 1

US Navy Flag (Coolmore): Straight to The Everest - October 13

Invincible Star (GPI Racing): G3 Concorde S (1000m) - Randwick - September 1