National

Battlers and a billionaire climb Everest

By AAP Newswire

A former garbo, a concreter, bus driver and electrician meet a Chinese billionaire and between them they conquer Everest.

Redzel has provided the feel good story of Australia's richest horse race with back to back wins to be the only winner of the $13 million Everest in its two-year history

The six-year-old gelding led from the outset in the second running of the 1200m sprint at a soggy Randwick on Saturday to claim the $6 million winner's purse and become Australia's second highest earning racehorse in history.

But while his slot in the race was bought for $600,000 by Chinese billionaire Yuesheng Zhang who's made his fortune owning mines, wind farms and hotels, Redzel belongs to a group of 17 everyday Australian owners with everyday jobs.

Some of the owners are syndicates with 10 or so members who hold a five per cent share between them, others are individuals with a 10 per cent stake.

But most can certainly be classed as battler owners. Until their horse won $16 million that is, three quarters of which has come from his two Everest wins.

Among them, concreter Abram Savage, bus driver Michael Waddington, council worker Brad Playford, electrician Damien Yates and cancer survivor Peter Piras leapt on each other in a heaving throng of rain drenched jubilation as Redzel passed the Randwick post in front of a crowd of 40,578.

"The Chinese billionaire! He can't speak a word of English but what he does know is dollar signs. How good is he? Thanks Zheng!" a jubilant Yates yelled.

"I thought it was exciting last year, I've got no words this year, my body's writing cheques it can't cash. If I get home before Wednesday it's way too early. What a thrill."

Zheng had made a deal with Redzel's owners shortly after last year's Everest to effectively lease the horse to fill his slot for what is believed to be a 50-50 split of the prize money from the world's third richest race.

Piras is just one of the owners who can't believe they own what is now Australia's most lucrative racehorse behind Winx and her $20 million.

But Redzel means more than money for Piras who has fought leukaemia, had bone marrow transplants and is now confronting kidney disease.

"The last year has gone real good because the horse has helped me feel better," Piras said.

"He's like my doctor. He's better than a doctor, that's no joke.

"He makes me feel unbelievable. What he's done today, he's absolutely destroyed his rivals and shut the critics up. They all wrote him off and said he was no good.

"He's a fighter like me, I love him, he's a champion."