COVID-19 Update - Attendance at 2020 Melbourne Cup Carnival

STATEMENTS FROM THE VICTORIA RACING CLUB

 

Current as at 25th October 2020

The Victoria Racing Club (VRC) would like to advise its members, sponsors, corporate partners, as well as the general public, that in light of the ongoing situation around government restrictions, as well as the current public health advice, it will not be possible to welcome spectators to Flemington Racecourse for the 2020 Melbourne Cup Carnival.

VRC Chairman Amanda Elliott said the Club had worked closely with authorities over the last few months and had tendered a comprehensive submission to the Victorian Government detailing how the VRC could safely host small crowds within government and public health guidelines. It is now clear that none of this is possible.

“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. We also recognise the need for certainty and clarity for our patrons, being only six days out from Derby day,” Mrs Elliott said.

“We are still in discussions regarding the potential return to the track for a small number of owners, as is currently permitted in regional Victoria,” Mrs Elliott said.

“What is certain is the Melbourne Cup Carnival will go ahead with viewing audiences watching from across Australia and around the world. The spirit of Cup Week, the high quality racing and the 160th running of the People’s Cup will be enjoyed by millions.” She added.

“This year’s Cup Week experience will be one to remember. We have worked very closely with our broadcast partner Network 10, to make Melbourne Cup Week an unmissable event that you will celebrate from home.”

“We’ve introduced a number of off-course initiatives including delicious picnic hampers, our Myer Fashions on your Front Lawn competition, the Lexus Melbourne Cup the Race of Dreams, digital Race book, tipping, sweepstakes competitions, trivia games as well as all the background stories to the horses, trainers and jockeys who will compete on the famous Flemington track. All of this is available on our new state-of-the-art interactive Cup Week website, accessible no matter where you are.”

“We will play our part in supporting Victoria’s emergence from this pandemic as Melbourne moves closer to a normal environment over summer.”

The Board and entire VRC team look forward to the day that we can once again welcome members and racegoers back to fabulous Flemington. 

“In the meantime, I am proud to share with you a special film we have created to celebrate Cup Week 2020 and the 160th running of the Lexus Melbourne Cup. You can see it at https://www.cupweek2020.com.au/racing/forever-yours/," Mrs Elliott said.

 

Owners on course during Cup Week

Current as at 28th October 2020

The Victorian Government today has rejected the Victoria Racing Club’s (VRC) proposal to have owners on course during Cup Week. To say we are extremely disappointed is an understatement.

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.

VRC Chief Executive Neil Wilson and the team invested significant time and resources developing a very comprehensive COVIDSafe plan. It detailed how we would safely facilitate the return of members, general public and owners to Cup Week. When it became clear last week this would not be possible, we amended that plan to focus on the safe return of owners only.

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.

Given this decision, our focus is now all about how we provide the best possible off course owner experience – connecting them to their horses on track at Flemington, regardless of where they are.

 

 

Q. Why are owners considered a higher priority than members?

We are still in discussions regarding the potential return to the track for a small number of owners. Government restrictions have expanded the definition of industry participants permitted to attend race meetings to those with a business need, and small numbers are currently permitted in regional Victoria. This decision will again be based on public health advice, and what is in step with broader community expectations.

This is absolutely not a reflection of the priority we place on our valued members, and we look forward to welcoming members back to Flemington Racecourse as soon as government restrictions allow.

Q. When will we be able to return to Flemington? In December?

We are still in discussions with government about the safe return of members and spectators to Flemington Racecourse in line with the easing of restrictions. We are hopeful that the easing of restrictions will allow the return of small numbers of spectators before the end of the year.

Q. In light of the government announcement that potentially only racing connections and owners will be permitted on course over MCC, what does this mean for my membership?

The recent changes we made to membership renewals for the 20/21 racing season took into consideration the uncertainty regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and the potential ongoing impact throughout the racing season. We believe the renewal offers are fair and balanced taking into consideration the very challenging COVID-19 circumstances.

Below is a recap of these changes:

  • The renewal due date for the 2020/21 racing season was extended to Thursday 1st October.

  • A reduction of 50% off your 2020/21 membership subscriptions (not including any Annual Absentee Fees), annual guest cards and annual car passes.

  • Automatic renewal of all existing Phar Lap Club and junior memberships for the 2020/21 racing season, with no fees payable.

  • Members that renewed by the due date received a $160 bonus on membership cards for use on course at Flemington in dining and hospitality venues throughout the 2020/21 season.

  • Members that purchased an annual guest card by 1st October 2020 for the 2020/21 season receive a further benefit of $110 added to their membership card.

  • An instalment payment plan to enable you to pay your membership subscription in three equal payments throughout the season has been introduced.
  • All existing Racing Rewards points and current food and beverage vouchers that were due to expire in the period between 1st March – 31st December 2020 will have their expiry dates extended by 12 months from the original date.
  • All Racing Rewards tier status will be held and rolled over for the 2020/21 season and members who were eligible to elevate their tier status will have this automatically granted.
  • All remaining complimentary Racing Rewards guest passes will be honoured via individual race day ticketing, issued upon request.
  • An extended financial hardship provision providing all members access to a range of options that enable ongoing connection to the club if they are unable to renew for the 2020/21 season due to COVID-19 circumstances. A quick call to Customer Service will enable us to work through the best option for your own personal circumstances.

Q. What about the rest of the racing season if we are not able to attend?

The recent changes we made to membership renewals for the 20/21 racing season took into consideration the uncertainty regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and the potential ongoing impact throughout the racing season. We believe the renewal offers are fair and balanced taking into consideration the very challenging COVID-19 circumstances.

See above for a recap of the revised renewal offers.

Q. Will you be providing a refund on my membership now that we cannot attend MCC?

No, we will not be offering a refund on your membership or any other fees. We believe the revised offers for the 20/21 racing season are fair and balanced taking into consideration the very challenging COVID-19 circumstances.

See above for a recap of the revised renewal offers.

Q. Who from the VRC will be attending the Melbourne Cup Carnival?

Racing has continued through both Melbourne lockdowns, with essential staff permitted on track to perform duties necessary for the safe execution of racedays throughout the pandemic under the industry participant exemption.

Although the Melbourne Cup Carnival is closed to spectators, given the scale of the Carnival a greater number of staff and contractors will be required on course to perform duties that are related specifically to our business, although this number is significantly lower than the required staff in a standard year.

Q. Why aren’t members able to come to Melbourne Cup Carnival but the public can attend outdoor restaurants, pubs and dining venues?

We understand and share the government’s commitment to keeping our community safe and this, along with the current public health advice means we are unable to welcome members back to Flemington for the 2020 Melbourne Cup Carnival. We are operating within the overall community guidelines, which restrict larger gatherings for sporting and cultural events.

Q. I can’t attend Flemington, what can I do this Melbourne Cup Carnival?

The VRC is committed to making Cup Week an experience to remember for all and have worked very closely with our broadcast partner Network 10 to make the Melbourne Cup Carnival an unmissable, made-for-television event that you can enjoy from home.