Target set for return of crowds with calendar changes made in the interim

Racing Victoria (RV) has today provided an update on the return of spectators to Victorian race meetings and announced several changes to the country racing calendar in the interim.

The update comes following the Victorian Government’s announcement yesterday that the following two race meetings would be part of the statewide vaccinated economy trials which commenced today and cover a range of businesses and events:

  • Thursday, 14 October 2021 – Warrnambool – up to 300 fully vaccinated spectators
  • Tuesday, 2 November 2021 – Flemington (Lexus Melbourne Cup Day) – up to 10,000 fully vaccinated spectators

RV, in consultation with Country Racing Victoria (CRV), has confirmed that spectators will be permitted to return to Victorian race meetings from Thursday, 4 November 2021 should the state reach its target of 80% of Victorians aged 16 and older being fully vaccinated.

If the target is reached earlier then the resumption of spectators will remain on Thursday, 4 November 2021 to provide certainty in planning for racing clubs and the industry. Once the 80% milestone is reached, it will then be a decision for each racing club when hosting a race meeting to determine whether they are in a position to safely welcome back spectators and if so, how many in line with Government guidelines.  

Having reviewed the current projections, RV, CRV and the country clubs involved, have today announced a series of changes to the Non-TAB and Picnic meetings scheduled on Melbourne Cup Day (Tuesday, 2 November 2021). They are as follows:

  • The Bairnsdale meeting will move to Monday, 1 November 2021 and run alongside the Ballarat meeting where it will carry TAB status and be broadcast on and SKY Racing;
  • The Wangaratta meeting will move to Thursday, 4 November 2021 and run alongside Flemington’s Oaks Day meeting where it will carry TAB status and be broadcast on and SKY Racing; and 
  • The Mildura (Non-TAB) and Mansfield (Picnic) meetings have been abandoned. 

In light of these changes, RV’s Racing Operations team will monitor the program and any ballot pressure to see if there are additional changes required for horses impacted by these abandonments. Races will continue to be divided where needed. 

RV Chief Executive, Giles Thompson, said, “We warmly welcome the announcement by the Victorian Government that the Lexus Melbourne Cup meeting at Flemington and Warrnambool midweek meeting will be part of the vaccinated economy trial and thank them for their ongoing support of the Victorian racing industry.

“With the clarity now afforded around our biggest week of the year and the latest projections around when Victoria will reach the 80% fully vaccinated target, we have sought to provide certainty for our clubs, participants and local communities on our plans for the resumption of spectators.

“Following consultation with CRV and a number of country clubs, we have set our target for the resumption of spectators in accordance with the Government’s road map as Thursday, 4 November or the date thereafter where Victoria reaches the 80% fully vaccinated target.

“It is important for all to have certainty in planning which this decision helps to provide, although it should be noted that some clubs may initially elect not to welcome spectators once the target is reached due to timelines, logistics and the requirements to ensure the conduct of a COVID safe event.

“The non-TAB race meetings on Melbourne Cup Day are built on attendance and tourism and with the uncertainty regarding crowds the decision today to either transfer or abandon them was the most practical one to assist Clubs, stakeholders and local communities with their planning.

“With light at the end of the tunnel for racing fans the message now is a simple one. If you want to enjoy a day at the races with family and friends, please roll up your sleeve and get vaccinated.”

Today’s announcement leaves the bet365 Echuca TAB meeting as the other Victorian race meeting remaining alongside Flemington on Melbourne Cup Day. In accordance with the Government road map and restrictions, that race meeting will be conducted with participants only and no spectators.