The Victoria Racing Club has decided that they will run the Melbourne Cup this year, even if it is held behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The commitment comes after Moonee Valley Racing Club’s chief executive Michael Browell said his club would consider not staging the 100th running of Cox Plate this year if it could not be run in front of a crowd at The Valley in October.
Racing in Australia is continuing through the COVID-19 crisis with crowd lockouts and only essential staff attending meetings.
First, run in 1861, the Melbourne Cup has been run every year since, continuing through two World Wars, the Depression and VRC chief executive Neil Wilson said the club was planning this year’s race to run on the first Tuesday in November.
Wilson said it was incumbent upon the VRC to provide the Cup as a platform of enjoyment for not only the people of Australia but also the world.
He pointed out the Melbourne Cup has a reach of 750 million people around the globe.
The A$8 million prize pool for the Cup is something the VRC is considering.
Wilson said holding prize money at the same level as last year “didn’t quite sit right with the VRC” while people were losing their jobs.
While the VRC has not yet ruled out international competitors at this year’s carnival, Wilson said in the current state it was difficult to see how that will play out.