Victoria Racing Club chairman Amanda Elliott is frustrated by the absence of crowds despite a Cup Week so far brimming with positive and memorable stories.
Mrs Elliott said she was “puzzled” that an outdoor space like Flemington Racecourse could not host people while the rest of Victoria opened up.
“We were really puzzled by the fact even though we had very strict protocols, we had guidelines and worked scenarios back and forwards (there is no crowd allowed),” she said in an interview for Tuesday’s Herald Sun Confidential at the Melbourne Cup broadcast.
“The restaurants are open, the pubs are open, the shops are bursting with people and Flemington, an outdoor venue sitting on 250 acres, no one can come? Certainly was a little puzzling to me.”
WATCH CONFIDENTIAL AT THE MELBOURNE CUP: James Reyne, Amanda Elliott, Kris Smith, Candice Warner and Bonnie Anderson join Nui Te Koha and Jackie Epstein on the Herald Sun Facebook on Melbourne Cup Day 2020.
But she said she had been buoyed by “fairytale” stories such Ashrun and German trainer Andreas Wohler clinching the final spot in the Melbourne Cup field, and AFL premiership coach Denis Pagan training Derby winner Johnny Get Angry.
Mrs Elliott also revealed the launch of the VRC’s new Melbourne Cup Foundation, bringing together existing VRC charitable initiatives.
“Everyone knows how the Melbourne Cup can change people’s lives,’’ she said.
“I think everyone’s got a Melbourne Cup memory, certainly if you’re an owner who wins one there is no doubt it changes your life. Or if you’re a trainer or a direct participant.
“It’ll be giving back, it’ll be changing people’s lives, and not necessarily racing people.”
Mrs Elliott said as well as centralising the VRC’s myriad existing community and charitable programs, the foundation would further support equine welfare initiatives.
“It will also allow us the freedom to champion blue sky projects that have far reaching benefits beyond Flemington that could include infrastructure, scientific research and education,” she said.
The foundation has an independent board of directors comprising chairman Gerry Ryan, Mrs Elliott as vice chairman and Sophie Cornell and Glenn Carmody as directors.
Mrs Elliott said its vision included a successful collaboration between philanthropy, community, government and business.
She is looking forward to a special, albeit strange, Cup Day without crowds.
“This year is a little weird, I’m still just as excited because the race itself is magnificent,’’ Elliott said.
“I’m not sure I’ve seen a stronger edition of the Melbourne Cup ever. The quality of the racing has gone to a new level.”