In Gaming - On-site betting by Clyde Mooney

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The Everest has been run and won for 2018 over the weekend, bringing the thrill of a major event and new format The Kosciuszko to Royal Randwick.

Tabcorp’s big bet on a big race for NSW centres around it being the “richest in the world” on turf. The event debuted last year, offering $10 million in prize money.

Stepping up in 2018, the day-long carnival announced a new race only for NSW country-trained horses, offering $1.3 million to be the “richest country thoroughbred race”.

Testing a new format to encourage engagement, slots in the Kosciuszko starting line-up were raffled off for $5 a ticket. David Barnhill, former Canberra Raiders and St George Dragons player and proprietor of Wagga Wagga’s William Farrer Hotel, runs a punters club with almost 500 members that raised $33,000 to buy 6600 raffle tickets, winning a slot in the race.

After electing to run Matthew Dunn’s horse Care To Think, emerging as race favourite, the horse was ruled out with an elevated temperature, replaced with Snitz, which did not perform on the day.

The Star Casino was one of the 12 slot-holders to pay $600,000 for the right to put a horse in the main event, with GM of business Brad Hodgson championing the Everest as “the new summit of racing”.

The inaugural Everest day drew a crowd of 33,000 to the renovated Royal Randwick Racecourse, and leading up to the 2018 event hotels in Sydney reported high bookings for the weekend.

Despite controversy during the week prior over the ploy to project a lightshow around the barrier draw on Sydney’s iconic Opera House, with 300,000 people assisting the media spread through a petition to stop the advertising on the world-famous sails, racegoers were not deterred.

This year over 40,500 people squeezed into Royal Randwick, up 23 per cent, seeing Redzel win his second Everest in a row for the $6m first prize, followed by Trapeze Artist and Osborne Bulls.

“That is great for the economy and great for jobs,” offered Premier Gladys Berejiklian of the day.

Recent research from Neilsen reported major events are popular with over 50 per cent of people in NSW, who see them as bringing jobs and money to the state.