What to Expect At The Melbourne Cup 2021

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5 Things To Expect At The Melbourne Cup 2021

The Melbourne Cup 2021 promises to be as grand as the other past celebrations, which debuted in 1861. Dubbed as the ’race that stops the nation’, it boasted an AUD$8 million total prize pot in 2019 and some smaller races and social events on the side.

Coming at the heels of the no-crowd policy for Melbourne Cup 2020, this year’s reopening of the spectacular horse race to a live audience will feature minor changes in the way things pan out. Find out what to expect in the 161st running of Australia’s most prestigious thoroughbred horse race.

  • Expect the Melbourne Cup 2021 to attract 10,000 people

The state of Victoria, for which Melbourne is the capital city, said they’ll allow 10,000 fully vaccinated individuals to become part of the live audience in one event. This is a welcome move following a crowdless 2020 Melbourne Cup, which met mixed reactions from the public. The overall estimation for crowd attendance is over 10,000, though, just like in the previous year-after-year running, as multiple races and social activities are lined up during the week. Melbourne Cup’s largest audience was in 2003, which recorded almost 122,737 racehorse fans. 

  • Expect the Melbourne Cup 2021 side events to be just as fun

However, the  Melbourne Cup race isn’t just about the race itself, with a live concert kickstarting the event on October 30 at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. Melbourne’s premier entertainment venue can house more than 2,000 seated and 11,000 non-seated guests on its vast grounds. 

A smaller race in Penfolds Victoria Derby Day will commence on the said opening date of the four-day Melbourne Cup Carnival 2021. After the most-coveted Lexus Melbourne Cup Day on November 2, a race-meets-fashion event will unfold in the ‘Ladies’ Day’. Also known as the Kennedy Oaks Day, women of all ages must dress to impress while watching the race participated in by three-year-old female horses, also known as fillies.

On November 6, the Carnival closes with the VRC Seppelt Stakes Day, also called the ‘family day’, as activities for children take centre stage during the Seppelt Mackinnon Stakes—a race featuring non-maiden horses over three years old. The race returns at the Flemington racecourse, where the primary race takes place four days prior. 

  • Expect fewer international racers to the Melbourne Cup 2021 

As the Melbourne Cup reopens to a live audience this year, organizers and the Australian leadership won’t put their guard down and have decided to invite fewer horses from overseas.

While the final list of participants for Melbourne Cup 2021 has yet to be released, there are at least three significant runners for the top spot. Punters are setting their sights on Ireland native and last year’s Melbourne Cup winner Twilight Payment, along with fellow Irish-bred galloper Delphi, alongside local contender Incentivise.

Despite the decision to open its doors to fewer international entries, this year’s race highlight, the Melbourne Cup Day, will still accommodate 24 horses from different parts of the world. This figure represents a smaller number compared to 42 international gallopers in 2018.

  • Expect more stringent screening for Melbourne Cup 2021 race participants 

As the race organizers aim to place safety as the top priority for this year’s Melbourne Cup, Melbourne Cup jockeys and their prized assets will go through the most stringent health screening measures the Carnival has ever seen. The protocols will apply to both international and local participants.

Authorities announced in April that the Werribee International Horse Center would undergo multiple renovations to optimize horses’ well-being and accommodate more extensive veterinary inspections. Changes also include racehorses being required to stay during the entire racing event before transferring to other training venues. 

These are the other changes to the policies for Melbourne Cup 2021:

  • Irrespective of their soundness to participate, all horses that have had major fractures or surgery won’t be allowed to join the race.
  • Racing Victoria (RV), the agency that oversees all thoroughbred horse racing in Victoria, will assign a veterinarian to perform an extensive pre-travel screening in pre-export quarantine within a week of entry in Australia. 
  • RV will also appoint veterinary staff to extend services for international horses instead of stables hiring private veterinarians.
  • All horses must have a CT scan image of their distal limbs, including the fetlock joint, cannon, pastern, and hoof sections, before participating in the Melbourne Cup 2021. The RV will shoulder all costs.
  • These scans will be submitted to the RV and reviewed by international equine surgery and veterinary diagnostic imaging experts. 
  • Expect health and safety protocols for the Melbourne Cup 2021 live audience 

Amid the continuing pandemic, Daniel Andrews, Victoria’s state premier, has told the media that they have a ‘very, very detailed COVID-safe plan’. He also vowed to have the majority of the territory’s population fully vaccinated before the Melbourne Cup 2021, which signal’s the reopening of the economy battered by the periodic pandemic lockdowns for two years. 

Because the crowd is limited to only 10,000 for each event, those who want to be part of the live audience will have to purchase tickets early on and allow to have their vaccination status checked via QR code before entry. As an added protection measure, the state aims to have 80% of the population vaccinated by then. If not, only those living within 25 km away from the venue will be allowed entry.   

The Bottom Line

Amid the pandemic, the Melbourne Cup 2021 promises another spectacular race that’ll once again put Australia at a virtual standstill. Organizers may have reduced the number of international racehorses and laid out some screening changes, but it still retains its well-deserved status as ‘the race that stops the nation’. 

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