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The spring racing dilemma

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17th June, 2020

The famous spring carnival of racing is set to look a lot different in the wake of COVID-19.

The Melbourne Cup, Cox Plate and Caulfield Cup could be an all-Australian fare with the bans on international travel heading into November.

The scene facing race fans, owners and trainers could pose several different scenarios moving forward.

With the current travel ban facing many internationals over this pandemic, could we see that horses are allowed to travel but trainers and jockeys will have to watch on and hand the reigns over to an Australian trainer?

Horse racing generic 1

Racing to its credit has been the only sport not to miss a beat throughout this pandemic in Australia, continuing to still operate and resume business as usual, albeit without fans and any affiliations being at the track.

Social distancing will have to be enforced throughout the carnival with implementations already being placed moving forward.

Racing is the only sport to have not had a significant drop-off in terms of finical reserves as is seen in cricket, AFL and NRL.


The other big issue that is posed is the chance that the Cox Plate could be a curtain-raiser of sorts to the AFL grand final.

Racing in Melbourne sits a very firm second to AFL on any given day and the Melbourne Cup carnival is usually placed after the AFL season is done and dusted.

If the Victorian Racing Club and the AFL don’t come to a mutual agreement on the scheduling of the events, the Cox Plate will look like nothing more than another Saturday race. The suggested October 24 date is when both events are likely to take place.

This year has thrown up more than its fair share of hurdles and hoops to jump through and to racing’s credit, they have made those jumps and leaps look seamless.

With the spring carnival, one of the biggest events on the international racing calendar, the VRC needs to take the time to consider their options.