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The CEO behind a $10m horse race accused the Sydney Opera House of being 'elitist' over advertising it on the sails

Business Insider Australia logo Business Insider Australia 5/10/2018 Simon Thomsen

The Sydney Opera House on the eve of the Wallabies losing (again) to the New Zealand All Blacks in the 2015 RWC Final. © Getty The Sydney Opera House on the eve of the Wallabies losing (again) to the New Zealand All Blacks in the 2015 RWC Final. The CEO behind the world’s richest turf race, the $10 million Everest, to be run at Randwick next weekend, has accused the Sydney Opera House of being 'elitist' about promoting the event.

The 12 horse, 1200m sprint, which costs $600,000 to enter via an "expression of interest", was first held last year and is held on the second Saturday in October annually.

With the barrier draw due to be held next Tuesday, The Daily Telegraph reports that Racing NSW CEO Peter V'landys was originally keen to hold the event on the side of Sydney Harbour Bridge, but that idea was rejected by government officials.

The Telegraph says the government then offered the Opera House sails as "an olive branch" and while the building's management agreed to a 60-minute projection, the details of what would be shown on the global icon was subject to protracted negotiations, leading V’landys to declare that “the Opera House belongs to the taxpayers of NSW and not just to a minority of elites".

NSW Sports Minster Stuart Ayers has reportedly been central to negotiations on the issue, but V'landys expressed his frustrations, telling The Tele that the minister "has seen first-hand the bureaucracy that is encountered in trying to promote Sydney”.

While Racing NSW wanted The Everest logo, the 12 horse names, their colours and barrier draw projected onto the sails, the proposal contravened the Opera House policy on what can and cannot be projected onto the building and was rejected.

Opera House CEO Louise Herron said they agreed to putting the colours on the sails.

V'landys said the World Heritage-listed site "should be used to showcase Sydney so the taxpayers of NSW get a return on this magnificent asset”.

But the idea of using the sails to promote a horse race has infuriated many, although NSW Opposition leader Luke Foley has come out in support of the idea, along with federal MP Anthony Albanese, who told ABC Sydney that people should "chill out a bit" and it was okay to use the Opera House as a "billboard".

"We need to take every opportunity there is to promote Sydney as Australia's global city," Albanese told ABC Sydney.

Business Insider contacted the Opera House to establish whether the deal would be a commercial arrangement with Racing NSW and seeking further comment from Herron on the issue but has yet received a response.

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