Sydney Opera House forced to display racing silks on sails after advertising row
The New South Wales government has ordered the Sydney Opera House to display horseracing advertising on its sails despite strong resistance from the chief executive of the famous building.
In a bid to promote the Everest – the A$13 million (£7m/€8m) sprint set to be run for only the second time at Royal Randwick a week on Saturday – Racing New South Wales wanted to use the Sydney Opera House to display racing-related advertising, including jockey silks, numbers and a racing trophy with the word Everest on it.
Sydney Opera House chief executive Louise Herron blocked the attempt to promote the Everest, citing a policy that prevents the commercialisation of the performing arts building.
However, after Herron's decision sparked a public row with Racing NSW boss Peter V’landys and outspoken radio presenter Alan Jones, the New South Wales government has overturned the decision.
The final decision, made by New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian, came just hours after an explosive radio interview on Jones's show featuring Herron and V'landys.
In the interview, presenter Jones said to Herron: "You don’t have a right to fence it off.
"If you can’t give the go-ahead for this to happen, to an event that’s providing $100 million to the economy, delivering a tourism boom to Sydney, to send Sydney around the world . . .
"If I were Gladys Berejiklian I’d pick up the phone and sack you today."
Herron had already agreed to displaying the jockey's colours on the sails, but drew the line at anything further.
"We have no problem with that, what we won’t do is put text or videos of horses' numbers or names, or the Everest logo, on the Opera House sails," Herron said. "It’s not a billboard."
The Everest is run over six furlongs and connections have to stump up an entry cost of $600,000 to participate, with the lucrative contest capped at 12 runners.
US Navy Flag, winner of the July Cup at Newmarket, is among this year's contenders.
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