VRC disappointed in roadblock for owners

Victoria Racing Club chairman Amanda Elliott says they are bitterly disappointed with the state government’s decision not to allow owners at Flemington during the Melbourne Cup carnival.

Racing Minister Martin Pakula confirmed on Wednesday that it was too soon for connections to be permitted to gather on course, a decision he said was made “in the interests of all Victorians”.

The VRC had been holding out hope a small number of owners would be cleared to watch their horses race and the club invested significantly to implement a strict COVID-safe plan.

“In light of this week’s easing of restrictions, including the reopening of retail and hospitality, we were really optimistic a controlled number of owners would have been able to attend Flemington to watch their horses compete in the most important week of racing,” Elliott said in a statement.

“Owners are critical to our sport and industry. Their support has played a major part in sustaining racing during the pandemic.

“We are devastated that they cannot be at Flemington.”

The four-day Melbourne Cup carnival kicks off with the Victoria Derby meeting at Flemington on Saturday with only essential workers permitted trackside.