The Everest and The Art of The Deal - TAB's Time to shine

5 min read
In Her Time's shot at redemption after missing the inaugural running of The Everest has given slotholder TAB everything they wanted in a runner.

For TAB to find the best horse to run in their slot for The Everest, it not only needed to be the right candidate, it needed to be the right story.

Days out from the $13 million race which they sponsor, they appear to have got those two factors spot on with their runner In Her Time (Time Thief).

It was way back in April when TAB raised a few eyebrows, deciding to lock in In Her Time for their slot, just the second horse selected for the 2018 event.

The first selection, Trapeze Artist (Snitzel) made perfect sense. He was the hottest sprinter in the land having won the G1 TJ Smith S. and the G1 All Aged S. and slotholder Aquis Farm was clearly eying him as a potential stallion going forward.

"If you look back at the record, she rarely gets beaten by a significant margin … she's a bonny mare that puts in every single time she goes around." - Tabcorp's Glenn Lee on In Her Time

With marketing considerations at play, TAB was compelled to act early and, according to Tabcorp's General Manager of Business Development Glenn Lee, In Her Time, was always firmly on their radar.

"For both runnings of The Everest to date, we have conducted a consumer promotion where our customer will part own a share of our runner on the day. To facilitate this, we will look to lock in a runner early to enable us to organise the promotion," Lee explained.

"She ticked a lot of boxes … a Group 1 winning sprinter that can also perform adequately on a soft track. But moreover, In Her Time is a real trier. If you look back at the record, she rarely gets beaten by a significant margin … she's a bonny mare that puts in every single time she goes around."

Last year's heartbreak

In fact In Her Time had been on a lot of people's radars since last year, when she missed a spot in the inaugural event, only to win the consolation, the Sydney Stakes, in a faster time than Redzel (Snitzel) won The Everest.

"I think every slot owner saw that run and had her on their short list for this year’s running," Lee said.

"But when she came back in the Autumn, with her win in The Galaxy & unlucky third in the TJ Smith, we knew then that she’d be a big chance in The Everest."

Race performance was a significant factor, but Lee said In Her Time was also a horse with a relatable story.

"I think every slot owner saw that run and had her on their short list for this year’s running." - Glenn Lee on In Her Time's Sydney Stakes win

"We have an internal panel who help select our slot runner and not only does our runner need to have exceptional racing credentials, but we look for a runner with a unique story – a story that our customer will relate to and want to be part of. In Her Time ticked a lot of boxes for us," he said.

Building the hype

What the early moves by Aquis Farm and TAB did was prompt a flurry of activity from the remaining slotholders. By the end of July, over two months out from the race, ten of the 12 slots had already been filled.

Lee said he felt that slotholding process had done exactly what organisers wanted it to in terms of promoting the race.

In Her Time

"Each slot owner has their own objectives, and their own excitement, with regards to their slot. This may mean some slot owners will want to lock away a runner early whilst others may want to sit back and wait. This is the beauty of the slot holding process, another excitement to the race," he said.

"The slot holding process was a great innovation by Racing NSW and the Australian Turf Club, which brought an extra dimension to an already special race. The buzz creates more talk ability about the race and gets extra media coverage for Racing; which can only be a good thing for the sport."

Of course, as the main sponsor of the race, that increased exposure has been another positive for TAB.

Smoothing the bumps

The journey to The Everest for In Her Time hasn't been without some bumps along the way.

But because TAB had locked the mare away as their runner so early, it allowed the path to be smoothed somewhat.

Trainer Ben Smith has been the driving force behind In Her Time's emergence as a star sprinter, but he was suspended by Racing NSW a month ago.

However, as everything was already planned out, it meant that when Kris Lees had to take over, the horse felt little impact.

Kris Lees (left) has taken over training of In Her Time in the lead up to The Everest

She returned to the track with an excellent third in the G2 Premiere S. on September 29, beaten 0.3L in a track record time.

That race opened up The Everest market completely, with favoured pair Trapeze Artist and Redzel finishing behind In Her Time and the Anthony Freedman Everest pair Santa Ana Lane (Lope De Vega {Ire}) and Shoals (Fastnet Rock).

That result and the subsequent progression of In Her Time, one of three runners for Lees in the race, has the TAB cautiously optimistic ahead of Saturday.

"It was a pleasing return, she went great, " Lee said. "But, like all other slot owners, it's a waiting game until race day and then hopefully we enjoy some luck in running on the big day."

Watch: In Her Time runs second in the Premiere S. in front of Trapeze Artist, Redzel and Shoals