Racing

No crowd for Melbourne Cup racing carnival

Horse-racing fans who typically flock to Australia's week-long Melbourne Cup carnival will not be allowed to attend this year because of coronavirus restrictions.

The carnival attracts crowds of up to 90,000 for major races and is highlighted by the A$8 million (S$7.74 million) Melbourne Cup, which is raced on the first Tuesday of November and known as "The race that stops the nation".

"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," Victoria Racing Club (VRC) chairman Amanda Elliott said in a statement.

"What is certain is the Melbourne Cup Carnival will go ahead with viewing audiences watching from across Australia and around the world."

Elliott said the VRC was still negotiating with the Victoria state government about the possibility of a small number of owners attending.

A top Australian sports official was forced to apologise and reverse a decision earlier this month to allow a limited number of people to attend the A$5 million Cox Plate at nearby Moonee Valley.

On Sunday, Victoria delayed an expected announcement on the easing of lockdown restrictions in Melbourne due to a recent outbreak after a months-long battle to curb a second wave of infections.

The carnival, comprising Victoria Derby Day, Melbourne Cup Day, Oaks Day and Mackinnon Stakes Day, is due to start this Saturday with four Group 1 races, including the A$2 million Victoria Derby for three-year-olds.

First run in 1861, the Melbourne Cup is a cultural institution with well-dressed punters flocking to Flemington rand boozy parties held nationwide. The winning horse instantly becomes a household name in Australia. - AFP, REUTERS

HORSE RACING