The Melbourne Cup has become a staple of the Australian public but is also very popular among horseracing enthusiasts around the world. The race is shown on many platforms including live streaming websites, cable tv and Australian free-to-air television networks, so no matter where you are you can tune in to the “race that stops the nation”.
The Melbourne Cup has been running for 160 years at Flemington racecourse in Melbourne. The race is 3200 metres long with 24 horses competing. It is one of the richest races in Australia, current prize money of $8,000,000 second only to The Everest which is $15,000,000 so you can bet that this race attracts more than its fair share of attention around the country.
Coming out of the world’s longest lockdown
The State of Victoria has been in lockdown for over 250 days, the longest cumulative lockdown time in the world thus far; however, there is good news on the horizon. The Victorian Government plans to open the state back up, albeit with certain restrictions, by the end of October. This is good news for the people of Victoria, who have been at their wit’s end for a long time now. People have been stuck indoors going stir crazy, not being able to see family and friends let alone having the freedom to go out to venues or attend events such as the Melbourne Cup.
Restrictions on Melbourne Cup attendance
The Melbourne Cup Carnival at Flemington Racecourse has come around again in Australia and the climate of the times has forced the government to make some changes to how this prestigious event is celebrated. With a limit of 10,000 people being able to attend as long as they can prove they are fully vaccinated. There will still be a 25km travel radius limit if the state has not reached 80% vaccination coverage by the time the Melbourne Cup Carnival starts. This means that anyone living further than 25km (15.5 miles) from Flemington Racecourse, where the event is held, would be unable to attend. The state doesn’t expect to reach desired vaccination levels until November 5th which means this will be the most likely case for Melbourne Cup Day.
The Victorian Government is using large-scale events like the Melbourne club as a “testing ground” for technology with the ability to detect vaccinated patrons. All attendees will still have to wear a mask and will be allocated into separate sections. Each has its own food and beverage sections, marquees and places to bet on the Melbourne Cup. These restrictions have been designed to ensure that patrons from different zones are unable to mix, thus reducing the potential for a mass-scale outbreak.
The road to recovery for the industry
Though there are restrictions in place all this is welcome news, as last year no one was allowed to attend the Melbourne Cup, not even the owners of the horses. Considering attendance numbers in previous years which were 81,408 in 2019, 83,471 in 2018 and 90,536 in 2017, the allowance of 10,000 people for 2021 seems relatively small. No matter how you look at it, the allowance of even this many spectators is a big step in the right direction for Australian horse racing taking its place back as one of the country’s most well-attended sporting events.