28 October, 2020
Twilight time for Longreach's Melbourne Cup
LONGREACH Jockey Club president, Rob Luck, may have chosen roughie Oceanex in this year’s Melbourne Cup, but he believes a change in format to the local race meeting will be a hot favourite among racegoers as the club prepares for its annual Cup meeting.
There will be
no local public holiday for the Cup meeting this year. The special public
holiday was originally set for September 9 to coincide with Barcaldine’s
Westech Field Days which was postponed until next year.
Longreach Regional Council approached the race club about rescheduling the holiday to complement the race that stops the nation, but the offer was declined.
The council repealed the holiday in a move “designed to minimise the impact on local businesses, and keep the economy open at a critical time”.
The jockey club has decided to hold a twilight race meeting, with the first and last races set to jump at 2:45pm and 5pm respectively.
“The beauty of the Melbourne Cup is that it is a national event based on celebrating horse racing and everyone wants to be a part of it,” Mr Luck said.
“All the pubs will have a watch-along and we recognise that is an important part of the day, but we are encouraging people to come to the races once they’ve watched the Cup in a social environment with air-conditioning.
“As a club we didn’t nominate to accept the public holiday because we found that when we have held races on public holidays, our crowd has halved. People weren’t coming in droves.
“Not having a holiday won’t diminish the crowd. If anything it should increase because people often just stay at home. If you’ve got to go to work for half the day, then you’ve got the option of the races in the afternoon.”
Mr Luck said the easing of restrictions from October 1 and holding a twilight meeting would greatly benefit all who attend the races, including the horses.
“Race meetings have always proven to be a good community event, and with this year of Covid-19, I think people have enjoyed escaping the drama, especially now we don’t have to be seated while eating and drinking,” Mr Luck said.
“The twilight meeting will also benefit the horses as they won’t be running in 35-degree heat.
“Temperature testing is now only required for jockeys but we will still do temperature testing for essential racegoers such as trainers and staff. The general public will not have to line up for testing, but if you’re not feeling well, don’t come to the races.
“Restrictions are starting to loosen up so there will be no limit on the crowd size. We don’t expect tickets to be hotly-contested as opposed to the Longreach Cup, so there won’t be any dramas getting in.”
The Longreach Simstock Ballard Melbourne Cup Race Day will be held on November 3. Tickets are now available at www.eventbrite.com.au.