Australia Flemington prepares for Cup week crowds

09:20  25 october  2021
09:20  25 october  2021 Source:   aap.com.au

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The Melbourne Cup carnival has been launched with confirmation crowds will be allowed into Flemington across four days of racing.

Melbourne Cup winners Gai Waterhouse and Michelle Payne have launched this year's carnival. © Luis Ascui/AAP PHOTOS Melbourne Cup winners Gai Waterhouse and Michelle Payne have launched this year's carnival.

But strict COVID-19 protocols will be in force as the Victoria Racing Club prepares to welcome 10,000 fully vaccinated racegoers on Melbourne Cup day after opening the gates to 5500 spring carnival fans for Victoria Derby on Saturday.

"It's a well deserved reward that we are now going to have a Flemington carnival with a crowd over the next week or two," Victorian racing minister Martin Pakula said.

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"There is no better setting than Flemington over this four days to declare that Melbourne and Victoria is back open for business."

VRC chairman Neil Wilson said he was thankful people would return to the track following the relaxation of lockdown restrictions after last year's carnival went ahead without crowds.

"We are grateful to have the opportunity to welcome over 35,000 people attending Cup week this year in a COVID-19 environment," he said.

Thirty-five horses remain in contention for a Melbourne Cup start after the latest entry deadline passed on Monday.

But the Danny O'Brien-trained Young Werther was a notable omission at the fourth declaration stage.

O'Brien revealed a CT scan, mandatory for all Cup aspirants ahead of fourth acceptances, showed "an area of concern".

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He said a small lesion had shown up in a sesamoid bone despite the promising stayer being in sound order throughout a spring campaign.

New Racing Victoria veterinary protocols have been introduced this year following a review into the death of 2020 Melbourne Cup runner Anthony Van Dyck.

O'Brien will now rely on the VRC Oaks winner Miami Bound to emulate stablemate Vow And Declare's 2019 Melbourne Cup triumph.

Victoria Derby favourite Forgot You is one of the more intriguing entries as a southern hemisphere-trained three-year-old.

It's been more than two decades since an Australian three-year-old ran in the Melbourne Cup.

And while Forgot You is yet to pass Cup balloting conditions, the colt can force his way into the field with a weight penalty if he can account for his own age group in the Derby.

"If he wins well on Saturday and pulls up well, we may as well have a crack," co-trainer Natalie Young said.

Other borderline candidates can leapfrog in the Cup via the the Hotham Stakes, a ballot exempt lead-up race to the Cup.

The Cup's overseas-trained representation is well down on previous years.

Last year's winner Twilight Payment, highly regarded Spanish Mission and Away He Goes will be the only internationals in the race.

Sydney jockey James McDonald has been confirmed to ride the British-trained Away He Goes.

But in the absence of a full-blown overseas challenge, Incentivise is set to start one of the shortest-priced Cup favourites in Cup history.

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