ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 20: Frankie Dettori riding Stradivarius reacts to winning The Gold Cup on day three of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 20, 2019 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images for Ascot Racecourse)

The Victoria Racing Club is hopeful it will be able to host crowds of up to ‘40,000-50,000’ when the Melbourne Cup Carnival gets under way, Chairman Amanda Elliott says.

With the COVID-19 situation and subsequent restrictions moving so fast in Victoria, planning for the Spring has been difficult, Elliott said the VRC needed to ‘start planning with numbers’.

“We are very optimistic about Cup Week. We are planning for it to go ahead with a number (in mind),” Elliott said.

“When we think about what that number might be, we are hopeful that it will be around the 40-50,000. That’s just a stab in the dark.

“But we do need to start planning with numbers. Clearly the team has been working on scenarios where that is possible, at the same time as observing all the restrictions that are currently in place and hopefully will be eased by then.”

However, Elliott conceded it would be ‘miraculous’ if Flemington could have a full house for any of its race days during the Cup Carnival.

“The (Victorian) Government has given no indication when mass gatherings will begin again. I don’t believe they will apply the ability for mass gatherings this year,” she said.

“I think international travel and mass gatherings are the last things to be thought of and brought back.

“We will put on a Cup Week that is obviously different but really bespoke, beautiful and unmissable for the difference it will be this year.”

Elliot acknowledged that the VRC would take a financial hit with reduced crowds during the spring, however they are working hard to get as much revenue out of its fixed infrastructure as it can.

“Financially … everybody understands how devastating COVID has been. Clearly without the ability to have people at the races so far, has been a hit to our bottom line,” Elliott said.

“Of course, having the reduced Cup Week will be the same … but the offset to that is we won’t be making the same investment for the big crowds. Each year it costs us north of $50 million to put it on.

“So this year, it’s not exactly a quid pro quo, of course it’s a hit to our bottom line, but it’s slightly offset by the fact we won’t be making the same investment. We will be making our fixed infrastructure work as hard as they possibly can.”