English owner sets sights on The Everest, Sydney Cup
SYDNEY racing be warned, we haven't heard the last of human headline Marwan Koukash.
The flamboyant English owner had Victoria Racing Club officials feeling very nervous with his threats to strip down to his G-string if his stayer, Magic Circle, won the Melbourne Cup.
When Magic Circle ran down the track behind Cross Counter, those same officials were breathing a little easier.
But Koukash is so enamoured with Australian racing, he is considering aiming Magic Circle at the $2 million Sydney Cup during The Championships in the autumn and is already considering how to win the $14 million The Everest at Royal Randwick next spring.
Koukash is a one-man publicity machine and was tremendous theatre leading into the Melbourne Cup.
He would provide plenty of free publicity for the Sydney autumn carnival and The Everest next spring if he were a participant.
Koukash has struck a friendship with Everest slot-holder Damion Flower and wants to team up to try to win The Everest.
"Marwan likes the limelight, but I'm more a back-street guy,'' Flower said. "But when he wants something, he goes after it.
"He told me we should go out and buy the fastest sprinter on the planet and run it in The Everest.''
Flower is not about to cry poor but he doesn't have the unlimited finances of his new English friend.
Koukash, who had a PhD in electrical engineering, is said to be worth $3 billion. He has made his vast fortune through property and the hotel industry, he owns the Salford Red Devils in the English Super League and is keen to buy an NRL team.
But Flower may not need to look too far to persuade Koukash to get involved in The Everest as that is the long-term plan for the slot-holder's crack colt Sandbar.
Flower said Sandbar, who won the Listed Rosebud, ran second to Sesar in the Roman Consul Stakes and fourth to rising superstar The Autumn Sun in the Golden Rose during a commendable spring carnival, returned to trainer Brad Widdup's stables this week to begin preparations for a new year campaign.
"Finally we have Sandbar where we need him, he looks outstanding,'' Flower said.
Widdup said Sandbar has obviously enjoyed his month-long spell.
"He has done really well, he definitely looks a lot stronger,'' Widdup said. "He is about 30kg heavier than when we last raced him.''
Flower said there were a "heap of options" for Sandbar in the autumn although the Oakleigh Plate was an ambition as the owner had won it with the colt's sire, champion stallion Snitzel, in 2006.
"We will see how he is coming up but we would like to target a race like the TJ Smith Stakes during The Championships because a win there gets you into The Everest,'' Flower said.