One of the most iconic horse races on the global racing calendar, Australia’s Melbourne Cup, will be run without crowds next Tuesday for the first time in its 100-year history.
The Victoria Racing Club confirmed this week that the four-day Cup Carnival would remain crowdless throughout as the southern Australian state makes its first tentative steps out of a prolonged lockdown due to COVID-19, with VRC chairman Amanda Elliott stating, “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.”
The Melbourne Cup, held on the first Tuesday of November at Flemington Racecourse, is dubbed “The race that stops the nation” and traditionally attracts more than 300,000 racegoers each year plus millions Australia-wide.
But while Flemington will be unusually quiet this year, sportsbooks are bracing for a record week after turnover on last week’s Caulfield Cup – a major lead-up race to the Melbourne Cup – seeing turnover at market leader Tabcorp climb 32% year-on-year according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
Dean Shannon, CEO of Nedd and Ladbrokes owner GVC Australia, told The SMH, “We have seen an uplift as consumers have been limited in their entertainment options.
“We have seen solid increases in turnover on both the Sydney and Melbourne carnival races … and we would expect that to continue into Cup week.”