The Everest and the Art of the Deal - Inglis

7 min read
For Managing Director Mark Webster, becoming a slot holder in The Everest meant Inglis could be part of something that would change the thoroughbred industry.

As a concept which broadens racing's public appeal, celebrates what makes the Australian thoroughbred great and gives owners a dream of winning the richest race on turf, it is little wonder The Everest is an event that Inglis would want to be involved in.

Inglis' ongoing success as a bloodstock sales and auction business relies on more people being engaged in the sport. It relies on those who get involved having an experience which makes them want to come back, and it relies on the increasing value of the Australian-bred racehorse.

For Managing Director Mark Webster, becoming a slot holder in The Everest meant Inglis could be part of something that would change the game.

"I think sometimes in our industry we can be hamstrung by tradition and that makes people reluctant to embrace change," he told TDN Aus NZ.

"This is not tradition, it is really changing it up, and finding a new way to engage and having a model which is completely different to what people expect."

"We thought we should support that, rather than just applauding,"

Australia's best on show

Less than 18 months later, Webster feels the decision to invest as one of the original slotholders was an important one for the company, both for their current clients and for prospective ones.

He's come to realise that not only has it achieved significant cut-through with the general public and significant opportunity for his client base, but it has put a focus on the great strength of the Australian racing and breeding industry.

"The Everest is a race which really showcases the best of what we produce," - Inglis' Mark Webster

"It is a race that celebrates what we produce here in Australia. We produce sprinters and it's very different to the traditional races that the general public would engage with," he said.

"With the Melbourne Cup, the runners from that race are predominantly from overseas and the public don’t have that strong connection with them."

"It's a wonderful race, no disrespect to it, but it’s not a race which showcases what we produce here in Australia. It’s more an international race where people come from far afield to compete. The Everest is a race which really showcases the best of what we produce."

The Inglis Graduates

Four of the ten horses locked in for The Everest so far are graduates of Inglis, including last year's winner Redzel (Snitzel {Aus}) who was sold as weanling through the company before selling again through Magic Millions as a yearling.

All graduates of Inglis are eligible for their slot, with expressions of interest closing in April. Three of those horses, Redzel, (Yu Long Investments), In Her Time (Time Thief {Aus}) (TAB) and current favourite Trapeze Artist (Snitzel {Aus}) (Aquis) were locked up by other slot holders before Inglis was ready to make a decision.

"It's just another good reason to be talking to our clients. As long as they get in there, whether it be through our slot or someone else's, we are happy to have them there," Webster said.

"What we decided this year was that we would wait until the end of the Brisbane carnival. Obviously last year's winner came through the Brisbane carnival, so although we had discussions, we held off finalising anything until then."

It proved a savvy decision with an Inglis graduate, Santa Ana Lane (Lope De Vega {Ire}) winning the two late-season feature G1 sprints, The Goodwood and The Stradbroke.

"With Santa Ana Lane running so well in Adelaide and backing that up in Brisbane, two Group 1s in a row, we thought it was a horse on the improve," Webster said.

Inglis graduate Santa Ana Lane takes their slot in The Everest

Selling the dream

The other key aspect in Santa Ana Lane's favour was his ownership structure. The William St Syndicate in the horse features 30 individual owners, linked together through The Australian Club in Melbourne.

"We are trying to get more people involved in racing, and we like the idea of a syndicate of winners. That's really what is going to drive racing forward." - Mark Webster

"Last year (with Fell Swoop) we got behind a syndicate of owners from Canberra. This year we’ve got behind a syndicate of friends and business colleagues," he said.

"We tie that in with the marketing that we do. We are trying to get more people involved in racing, and we like the idea of a syndicate of winners. That's really what is going to drive racing forward."

"It's about getting more people engaged, whether they be friends, family members or work colleagues, and buying a horse together and chasing their dreams. That's what you see with Santa Ana Lane and that syndicate."

Santa Ana Lane resumed at Caulfield over 1100m last Saturday, charging home to finish fifth, beaten less than 1.5l. Webster and his team at Inglis were interested observers.

"It was 1100m, he was carrying 60kgs and I think he did very well to flash home in that race," he said. "I don’t think the trainer (Anthony Freedman) was necessarily trying to win, that wasn't the prize."

A Premier ambassador

As an $80,000 yearling purchase who has now won over $2.2 million, Santa Ana Lane is also a wonderful ambassador for Inglis' Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale.

"The horse came out of our Melbourne sale, which puts that sale back in the spotlight," Webster said.

"It was there for many years with Black Caviar coming out of the sale in Melbourne, it’s good to see another top-level sprinter as a Melbourne graduate"

Santa Ana Lane was an $80,000 purchase from the Inglis Premier Sale

But The Everest has not just been a great marketing opportunity for Inglis. Webster said the success of the concept has been the way it has been able to be leveraged to market the entire industry.

"Giving the power to slotholders to pick and choose horses that represent them is a novelty," he said.

"It basically means you don’t have to spend any money on marketing, because the marketing is the whole negotiation process of the field in the six-month period ahead of the race. It's brilliant marketing, and it costs nothing."

Where to now for the Everest runners?

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): Straight to The Everest - October 13

English (Damion Flower): G2 The Shorts (1100m), Randwick - September 15

Shoals (The Star): G2 McEwen S, Moonee Valley - September 8

Santa Ana Lane (Inglis): Likely to G2 The Shorts (1100m), Randwick - September 15

Brave Smash (Chris Waller Racing): TBC

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

Invincible Star (GPI Racing): G2 The Shorts (1100m), Randwick - September 15

Redzel (Yulong Investments): G2 The Shorts (1100m), Randwick - September 15