THE Geelong Racing Club (GRC) is preparing for a very different Geelong Cup next week, with coronavirus restrictions preventing the usual flood of racegoers to the event.
The cup is the highlight of the nine-race meeting on October 21, but no public crowds or members will be allowed at the track this year.
GRC chief executive officer Daniel Salter said preparations for the day were about 95 per cent set.
“We don’t have many plans to be able to set.
“At the moment, we’ve got a number of restrictions – 30 owners per race, they’ve got to be in rooms of no more than 10 or outside with all the social distancing.”
According to Racing Victoria and Country Racing Victoria guidelines announced last week, owners will also be strictly segregated from racing participants, meaning owner access to areas such as the mounting yard and stables is prohibited and no crossover will be permitted between the two halves of the racecourse.
Mr Salter said the GRC had been hosting races throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
“The race club, the track and everything else is in fantastic condition – it’s just sad we can’t have people here to enjoy it on Cup Day.”
The GRC is encouraging people to watch the cup on October 21 at local hotels and restaurants if possible, or from home with family and friends, and will be announcing more ways in which people can be involved in the event from home, including Fashions off the Field and Geelong Cup food and drink packages.
“I think being a public holiday, all the pubs will be booked out on the day, but they’re going to face similar restrictions about how many people they can have at their venues and how long they can be there for, which makes it challenging, but they’ll do whatever they can do make it a successful day, I’m sure,” Mr Salter said.
Nominations for the Geelong Cup close at noon today (Thursday, October 15), with weights tomorrow (Friday, October 16), and acceptances and riders on Monday, October 19 at 9am and noon respectively.
In an update posted on the GRC’s Facebook page on Monday this week, track manager Jimmy Dalton said the course had been blessed with nice rainfall followed by sunny days.
“Normally in September and October, we would have had irrigation on, but we haven’t had to with the beautiful rain we’ve received.”
He said the track was cut to 4 inches last week, 4.5 inches this week and would be built up to 5 inches on Monday, October 19 to give as much cushion as possible for the horses.