VRC maintains hope for carnival crowds

By: Michael Manley Wednesday 5 August 2020

Victoria Racing Club chairman Neil Wilson is still hoping minimal crowds can attend the Melbourne spring carnival and the club is making plans around this scenario.

Wilson said the VRC had been working on a number of contingencies in response to the COVID-19 situation but they had the advantage of Flemington being a huge package of land to accommodate large numbers of people.

"In terms of the members, the public and the corporates it's less likely, but we are being as receptive as we can to accommodate whatever we are allowed to in terms of regulations of that time," Wilson said on Melbourne's RSN radio on Tuesday.

"Four weeks ago we were planning for small numbers of people back to the track. Stage four has come into play, we are very grateful we can continue racing and things have changed.

"There's been an enormous amount of configurations which are possible for us from zero crowds to 50,000.

"With stage four, that's less likely, but we're working on the basis things can change and we could have crowds at the smaller end."

As for international representation in the Melbourne Cup, Wilson said stayers who were not going to return to the northern hemisphere would contest the race so there would still be an overseas flavour.

Godolphin has signalled that their international trainers Charlie Appleby and Saeed bin Suroor won't be bringing horses to compete at the spring carnival.

Moonee Valley Racing Club chief executive Michael Browell also remains hopeful of an international presence in the Cox Plate.

He pointed out that Ballydoyle held 23 nominations for the weight-for-age championship and had the systems and infrastructure to travel horses.