It was the controversial barrier draw on Sydney’s Opera House that got everyone talking – even those delivering some of the 40,000 racegoers to the event.
Peter and Kay Judge from Port Macquarie were among racegoers at the $13 million race day who said even their taxi driver knew about the government’s decision to project the barrier draw for The Everest onto the icon’s shells.
“When we were in the cab he asked why we were going out here and what was on. We told him and he said ‘Is that the thing that was on the Opera House?'” Peter said.
“If it wasn’t for that a lot of people wouldn’t have even known about it.”
The couple travelled from the mid north coast to see a horse they hold a share in, Zoushack, who ran fourth in the Harrolds Victory Vein Plate.
They said the whole thing amounted to good publicity.
“It’s our building, we should be able to do what we want with it. It’s only a building, it’s not a living thing so let’s use it for whatever we can use it for,” said Peter.
“Not only does it promote this race but it also promotes Sydney, NSW, and the Opera Horse – it puts it out there.”
Mates David Sherlock and Tom Gasber from Parramatta said they were amazed at the reaction with a petition and protest against the barrier draw projection.
“I liked it. I thought it was a bit ridiculous people getting fired up about it,” Tom said.
Mother and daughter Anna and Sam Maceri from Kellyville, who are part-owners in Ready’s Girl who came third in the Harrolds Victory Vein Plate, had different views.
“I think there’s far more important things in this world to worry about than that. I think people just need to move on,” Anna said.
Sam said she saw debate on social media particularly Facebook.
“It definitely got us talking about it but I don’t think I had too much of an opinion on it,” she said.
Race numbers were up nearly more than 7000 this year, with over 40,000 in attendance compared to around 33,000 last year.
n singer Jimmy Barnes was among the thousand protesters at the Opera House on Tuesday night who said the projection was “wrong on so many levels”.
“This is an n treasure … to advertise horse racing on it is degrading to a great place,” Barnes told the n.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has since expressed regret over how the debate acted out publicly.