An empty Flemington grandstand on 2020 Melbourne Cup Day (Image: Racing Photos/Reg Ryan)

Flemington on Melbourne Cup Day 2020 (Image: Racing Photos)

VRC 'optimistic' as spring planning begins

The Victoria Racing Club is hoping the 2021 Melbourne Cup Carnival will be able to have crowds of up to 100,000 spectators, as early planning as to what the club's four major race days may look like is underway following a 2020 when patrons were not permitted to attend the famous four-day carnival.

VRC CEO Steve Rosich said on Thursday that early conversations were underway, but an ever-changing landscape meant there is still no level of certainty as to what the club will deliver come the Spring Carnival.

"There's a lot of work that has to be done to work within the framework of Government, clearly it's a bit unpredictable what might be in place for November but we're optimistic," said Rosich.

"I think we can plan towards a race day with 50,000 to 100,000 people and that's what our team is doing at the moment.

"As we plan for a Melbourne Cup Carnival, I think there is no reason we can't plan and hope for a significant crowd and only one zone."

The VRC is hopeful to be in a position to remove its two-zone race-day format for its upcoming ANZAC Day race meeting on April 25.

"We're actually hoping for a situation with ANZAC Day, our next race day on April 25, that will only have one zone and that will again free things up for spectators and members alike," Rosich said.

Attention turns to Super Saturday this weekend and the club is hoping to have increased patronage back at Headquarters, with up to 13,000 racegoers expected to walk through the gates.

The VRC had approximately 9000 through for Australian Guineas Day last weekend and Rosich said he is looking forward to welcoming back the biggest crowd to Flemington since the COVID-19 restrictions were first put in place in March 2020.

"The environment and atmosphere with just under 8000 to 9000 at the track was terrific, with owners in the mounting yard," Rosich said of Australia Guineas Day last weekend.

"I think the patrons learnt a lot coming back to Flemington, seeing how the two zones worked, which is effectively zone one for members and zone two for the public.

"It worked really well, everyone had great access to the course, to food and beverages and a great view of the track.

"You will see a large crowd here on Saturday, almost at the level that we had at the last race meeting before the COVID restrictions came in place."

Super Saturday is historically the biggest event hosted at Flemington over the Autumn Carnival and those looking to attend will not be disappointed by not only the quality of racing on the track, but entertainment and festivities alike.

"With our rules and regulations we can follow this Saturday, we are expecting a crowd of somewhere between 12,000 and 13,000 across two zones and the energy and excitement from that will be absolutely terrific," Rosich said.

"First and foremost, it is about the two Group 1s, but secondly there is a lot happening off course with bands and food, celebrities and guests, that will bring that colour and excitement to the next level.

"Our many dining options, they have been sold out for weeks, but there are flexible tickets available for both members and the general public and they are available from Ticketek."