Cox Plate: Anger as Victorian Government allows crowds to attend

The Victorian Government will allow a crowd of up to 1250 people to attend this weekend’s running of the 100th Cox Plate at Moonee Valley.

But the decision has been met with fury, particularly from Melburnians who are still under lockdown.

Racing Minister Martin Pakula said 500 horse owners and connections would be able to attend Saturday’s race, in addition to jockeys, essential staff and media.

The same number would also be able to attend Friday night’s Manikato Stakes meeting.

While 1250 people can attend in total, a maximum of 1000 people will be allowed on the course at any one time.

The Moonee Valley racecourse normally hosts up to 38,000 people.

As part of COVID safety measures, there will be staggered arrivals, temperature checks and limits on how long owners can attend, while food and drinks will be takeaway only.

Mr Pakula said move followed advice from the state’s Chief Health Officer.

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Crowds attending Cox Plate day at Moonee Valley in 2017. Picture: Alex CoppelSource:News Corp Australia

“This will give connections the chance to see their horses compete under strict health protocols,” he said.

“The change has been closely considered by health officials, who will monitor the implementation of the plan to ensure the health and wellbeing of everyone involved.

“I know that connections will follow the lead of jockeys, trainers and stable workers and follow all protocols to the letter.”

No deal has yet been reached for crowds to attend next month’s Melbourne Cup at Flemington, however it’s possible similar provisions will apply.

“Changes to directions from the Chief Health Officer that allow persons with a business need to attend race meetings mean that connections will be able to attend metropolitan tracks that have COVID-safe plans in place ongoing, under set conditions,” a statement from the Victorian Government read.

While many in the racing industry have celebrated the move, it’s also drawn anger – not least because strict lockdown measures still apply in metropolitan Melbourne.

Oh look the Racing Minister @MartinPakulaMP is bending over backwards justifying the staggering hypocrisy of holding the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley for 1,000 people while the rest of metro Melbourne is locked down. Now why would he do that…?

This is utterly disgraceful. 10 people at a funeral but 1000 people on a race track. The people making these decisions should be ashamed.

500 owners and connections allowed at Cox Plate…. Food and drink available for “take away only.”

Want one person over to your house? $5000 fine.

Want to open your pub to even just 5 people? $10,000 fine.

Want to gather at a racetrack? Priceless.

Gee…this Cox Plate decision seems like popular plan 😒

Cox plate just latest example of how everything that was awful about the pandemic for you and your loved ones has been barely felt at all by rich people

Who’s the genius who approved horse ‘connections’ being allowed the the Cox Plate? You’ve got to be joking.

Will @MartinPakulaMP be tweeting photographs of himself and others at this Saturday’s Cox Plate, whilst lecturing Melburnians that #AFLGF BBQ’s aren’t allowed? #LetThemEatCake

So now five reasons to leave your home:
– shopping for essentials
– exercise or socialising with one other household
– permitted work, education
– care giving
– if you have a horse running in the Cox Plate

It also comes hot on the heels of Melburnians being warned against having mates over to watch the weekend’s AFL Grand Final.

Chief Health Officer Prof Brett Sutton said the timing of the all-Victorian decider between Richmond and Geelong in Brisbane was “unfortunate” as house visits still aren’t allowed in Melbourne.

“If we were at that point where we thought we could recommend those indoor household gatherings we would be saying that. It is not quite there yet,” Prof Sutton said on Monday.

“It’s not far away and, in a way, it is a little bit unfortunate that this is the timing of the grand final.”

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