Former Crown Resorts and Lendlease chief executive Steve McCann will have his game face back on today as his passion for horseflesh goes on full show at Randwick racecourse for the sixth running of the Everest.
Now idle, having officially left the running of the Blackstone-controlled Crown in the hands of new chief Ciaran Carruthers – who is yet to receive probity clearance in all of the casino group’s jurisdictions – McCann forms part of the hopeful syndicate that owns Everest contender Masked Crusader.
Come 4.15pm the six-year-old bay Gelding trained by Michael, Wayne and John Hawkes will jump from starting barrier 12, seeking to go one better from his second place last year to Nature Strip in the $15m classic – the nation’s richest race.
McCann, who was entitled to a $9m payout under a change of ownership clause in his Crown employment contract, is part-owner of Masked Crusader via his Encompass Bloodstock.
Others in the ownership clique include one of Australia’s biggest racehorse owners, Rupert Legh, Rick Jamieson via his Gilgai Farm, Victoria Racing Club director and Galileo funds management founder Neil Werrett and Colin Madden – the latter two owners of Black Caviar.
The group are all in on Racing NSW boss Peter V’landys’ Everest concept, having in 2017 formed the corporate entity Everest Racing in which McCann, Werrett, Madden and prominent racing figure (and ex-stockbroker) Max Whitby are all equal partners. Masked Crusader is racing in the Everest slot held by the four partners since the inception of the race. They locked the star sprinter into their slot before Christmas. Masked Crusader has so far won $4.1m in prize money for the syndicate, with this afternoon’s race potentially a healthy fill-up for the collective’s coffers.
Everest festivities kicked off ahead of the race on Friday, with a knees-up at Royal Randwick put on by Paul Nicolaou’s Business Sydney.
Among those in the crowd, to hear from V’landys, NSW Racing Minister Kevin Anderson and trainer Bjorn Baker – whose Overpass and Shades of Rose are in the race – were former NSW racing minister George Souris (now the chairman of the State Library in Sydney), ex-NSW attorney general Greg Pearce and former federal Liberal MP Jason Falinski.
Margin Call spotted Peter McGauran, the Howard-era minister turned Australian consul-general in Houston turned Bondi Partners adviser turned Australian Turf Club chairman. He sat next to his chief executive, Jamie Barkley.
Other racing figures were in the room too, including Whitby, bookie Tom Waterhouse and Racing NSW chairman Russell Balding, once managing director of the ABC, who Nicolaou suggested had turned up early to prepare lunch for those gathered.
Margin Call was told ex-Crown chairwoman Helen Coonan, another former Howard-era minister, would be in attendance. She was, however, difficult to discern in a heaving room at Randwick’s new Winx stand.
And starting a long week of racing – where his company will perhaps host half the NSW cabinet in their final hooray before the March election – was Tabcorp chief executive Adam Rytenskild.
It had been such a triumphant week for financial services tech start-up Nano Digital Home Loans.
Founders Andrew Walker and Chris Lumby, both former execs at Westpac’s BT, along with Nano’s star-studded register of shareholders including former big bank bosses Brian Hartzer from Westpac, Andrew Thorburn from National Australia Bank and Ralph Norris from the Commonwealth Bank, had all been celebrating Nano’s crowning as the overall winner of this year’s AFR BOSS Most Innovative Companies awards.
The innovative three-year-old group, which processes home mortgages in under 10 minutes, also took out the technology category award. Pretty remarkable given Nano only launched its first product mid-last year.
Alas, all that goes up must come down, with Nano on Thursday confirming it had suspended new home loan applications amid soaring funding costs. “The decision was made in the ordinary course of business as we wait for funding costs and credit spreads to normalise,” a spokesman told the Financial Review. What a difference a week can make.
Nano in recent months had reportedly been seeking to raise $75m fresh capital, but from company documents this does not appear to have come to fruition and is unlikely to unfold in the near term, given the company has hit the stop button on its direct-to-consumer mortgage business.
That leaves the all-star register, which also includes ex-Pacific Equity Partners managing director and Goldman Sachs new recruit David Grayce, Perpetual portfolio manager Anthony Aboud, Carlyle Group managing director Martin Sumner and former Rural Bank boss Murray Bolton (who is also a Nano director), pondering the future of their multimillion-dollar investments. Notably, former Vicinity Centres chief financial officer Richard Jamieson was Nano’s CFO and secretary until mid-last month. He’s still got shares but has left the company.
Maybe he has a crystal ball.