The Everest 2020: The 52-year friendship between John Singleton and Gerry...

“During those days, Gerry was extravagant,” says Singleton. “He imported American Flash cars. He filled his pockets with cash. He had special bags up to his knees to put in more money from his auctions. It is all true. The biggest players in the illegal clubs back then were in this order: one, Gerry Harvey, two, Rupert Murdoch, three, Kerry Packer, four, me. ”

Maybe we should start with this disclaimer from Harvey, who knows the great Singo better than most.

John Singleton and Gerry Harvey realigned themselves with Libertini in the $ 15m The Everest.

“He’s crazy – and he’s getting worse and worse,” laughs 81-year-old Harvey. “I said to him the other day, ‘Your mind is so wonderful, you have this incredible memory. There is only one problem: it is never the truth. ‘”

Memory tends to fade after you’ve lived and shared as much life as these legendary Australians. You have had many successes in business and racing over several decades, but winning Everest (1200m) would complete a remarkable, profitable, and fun life together.

“I’ve seen Gerry invest huge sums in this industry,” says Harvey’s wife Katie Page. “He’s the biggest and most consistent supporter of this industry. It is his time. He deserves it. Best of all, he can do it with his best buddy. Both deserve it. ”

Much has been written over the past week about how Singleton became the half-owner of Libertini, but even then the lines are blurry.

The best we can find out is that Singleton put some papers on Harvey’s desk and transferred half of the horse to Singleton. In return, Singleton would give Harvey half of the ownership of his well-behaved mare, Girl Tuesday.

One day Harvey’s phone buzzed. It was Singo.

“Buddy, have you signed this paperwork yet?” Singleton asked.

“What paperwork?” Harvey replied.

“Where did you sign the half horse for me?”

„Oh.“

“I’ll give you half of Girl Tuesday.”

“Can you give me half of More Joyous?” Harvey was referring to Singleton’s champion mare who won eight group mares.

“No no no!”

“This is a unilateral agreement.”

Harvey is still shaking his head.

Harvey and Singleton in the Magic Millions sales in 2002.Recognition:Fairfax

“When he had that golden run with More Strawberries and the like and I had a tough run, I got a text with an article about how he is the best breeder in the world and how I was the worst,” says Harvey. “He’s got a bad trot and his only salvation is to give him half if I get a good one. Singo is now listed as the managing owner of Libertini! ”

More recently, he visited Harvey’s Baramul Stud in the Widden Valley and arrived on a mandatory helicopter.

“I flew up,” he says. “You drove up in your Holden Commodore. The stupid bastards … ”

Singleton spotted a great yearling in the paddock.

“Jesus, he’s awake himself, that guy,” Singo said to Harvey.

“This is Libertini’s full brother,” said Harvey.

The plan had been to take the horse to Magic Millions sales on the Gold Coast early in the New Year, where the yearling was likely to make the highest dollar.

“Why don’t you race?” Said Singleton.

It wasn’t long before Harvey agreed to sell half of the horse to his companion for $ 1 million. Deal closed.

I ask Singleton if it has always been this easy to do business with Harvey.

“We’ve never had a blue,” he says. “Gerry is always right. It took me 50 years to realize that. ”

However, Page roars with laughter when it is suggested that they not argue.

“Oh god, did you have some blues!” She says. “”Oh my God. Once Singo was at a party about to hit Gerry. I got in the middle to stop it. There have been many times I’ve saved their friendship – and their life.

Libertini at work on Thursday morning.
Libertini at work on Thursday morning.Recognition:Getty

“I met her when I was very young. I was still in my teens. I thought they were just some old guys. I think, ‘Who would ever get involved with these two?’ I quickly realized that when you work with Gerry, you also work with John and vice versa. You are an old couple. I’m just the appendage. ”

The couple first met in Harvey’s store on Parramatta Road in Leichhardt in the late 1960s. Singleton, then 26, dropped onto a roll of carpet and explained how he could double Harvey’s advertising business. He gave Harvey a pamphlet which Harvey immediately used as an ashtray for his cigarette.

Years later, when both were making millions of dollars from each other’s success, Singleton told Harvey how he was hurt by the gesture.

“You didn’t show me any respect,” Singleton told him.

“Buddy, I wasn’t interested in your brochure,” said Harvey. “I was interested in you.”

Harvey was also interested in horses, but Singleton was not. In 1975 he moved to Harvey for Inglis Sales under the fig tree in Newmarket.

When Harvey was looking for horses, Singleton went to the bar to buy beer and cake. When he got back Harvey had bought three yearlings.

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They had some early success with horses like the Best Western and Gypsy Kingdom, but when Singleton bought Princes Farm and started breeding they became competitors.

“You could argue that I’ve made a lot more for a lot less since then,” argues Singleton. Gerry had 500 to 600 at a time when I worked a maximum of 20 at a time. But we now agree, with Kate’s encouragement, that we have a lot more fun together than when we are apart. ”

Now back together, Harvey and Singleton are still trying to make unlikely deals.

Last week it was unclear which slot owner Libertini would belong to: Chris Waller or James Harron?

Harvey had the idea for the “Libertini Toss”. Let a coin decide. Singo loved the sound of it. So does Racing NSW boss Peter V’landys.

There were discussions about the throw to 2 GB Ray Hadley Morgenshow. Then it is Matty Johns Show on Fox Sports.

“Chris Waller is so shy, like a gentleman. Imagine he goes on a show to flip a coin to get a seat, ”Singleton said. “Chris made good sense of retiring, although if he gets up he won’t.”

According to Harvey, Harron, who eventually secured Libertini, wasn’t enthusiastic about the idea either.

We’ll see if Harron made the right decision on Saturday. Both Singleton and Harvey will be in attendance along with Page despite concerns about COVID-19. Libertini drew Barrier 12 – not ideal – but everyone believes the difficult lane will make winning even sweeter.

Perhaps Singo will scream the bar like he did in Rosehill after Belle de Jour won the Golden Slipper in 2000, just moments after attacking former Prime Minister and business partner Bob Hawke at the assembly yard.

Or maybe they are too old for these gimmicks.

Harvey and Singleton resolve their differences at the Magic Millions in 2005.
Harvey and Singleton resolve their differences at the Magic Millions in 2005.Recognition:Fairfax

“I’m the one who makes sure they are in the nursing room together when the time comes,” says Page. “But I won’t be there: I’ll skype from the south of France.”

In the meantime, there are $ 15 million races to be won – and even those of lesser value.

When I spoke to Singleton earlier this week, he saw some of his horses running at Warwick Farm.

“Beautiful horse. Would win the Easter show. I just won’t try, ”he said of one of his charges.

As the horse crossed the line in the far back of the field, Singo giggled.

“I could give Gerry half of it,” he said. “Indeed I will! It is only the right thing to do. ”

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Andrew Webster ist Chief Sports Writer des Sydney Morning Herald.

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