Racing: Crushing Melbourne Cup blow – no crowds

The famed Melbourne Cup carnival will be held without crowds after the Victoria Racing Club conceded on Sunday it “will not be possible to welcome spectators” because of Covid-19 restrictions.

VRC chairman Amanda Elliott said the VRC had worked closely with authorities over the last few months and had tendered a comprehensive submission to the Victorian Government detailing how the VRC could safely host small crowds within government and public health guidelines.

The club said it was “now clear that none of this is possible”.

“While we are very disappointed not to be able to welcome our members and racegoers to Cup Week, we understand the government’s commitment to keeping our community safe. We also recognise the need for certainty and clarity for our patrons, being only six days out from Derby Day,” Mrs Elliott said.

“We are still in discussions regarding the potential return to the track for a small number of owners, as is currently permitted in regional Victoria.”

Mrs Elliott said the VRC would innovate to engage with absent audiences.

“What is certain is the Melbourne Cup carnival will go ahead with viewing audiences watching from across Australia and around the world,” she said.

“The spirit of Cup Week, the high quality racing and the 160th running of the People’s Cup will be enjoyed by millions.

“This year’s Cup Week experience will be one to remember. We have worked very closely with our broadcast partner Network 10, to make Melbourne Cup week an unmissable event that you will celebrate from home.”

“We’ve introduced a number of off-course initiatives including delicious picnic hampers, our Myer Fashions on your Front Lawn competition, the Lexus Melbourne Cup the Race of Dreams, digital Race book, tipping, sweepstakes competitions, trivia games as well as all the background stories to the horses, trainers and jockeys who will compete on the famous Flemington track.

“All of this is available on our new state-of-the-art interactive Cup Week website, accessible no matter where you are.

“We will play our part in supporting Victoria’s emergence from this pandemic as Melbourne moves closer to a normal environment over summer.”

The carnival starts on Saturday with four Group 1s – the Victoria Derby, Cantala Stakes, Empire Rose Stakes and the Coolmore Stud Stakes.

The Melbourne Racing Club and Moonee Valley Racing Club stages their feature Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate carnivals without crowds because of the pandemic.

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