VRC chief Rosich hopes for 15,000 at Newmarket, Australian Cup

“We had a sold out crowd on New Year’s Day which was just under 5000 people under the guidelines that the event was conducted,” he says.

“We would expect a crowd of around 4500 for this Saturday and a similar amount for the January 16th meeting.

“We would expect that we would be able to increase our capacity limit from the 5000 mark to around 6000 to 7000 for January 29 and Rapid Racing.”

The latter is an innovative concept the club pioneered last year in which the state’s top metropolitan and country riders faced off in a team competition in races held over the straight 1200-metre course.

“We have worked really closely with [Sports Minister] Martin Pakula’s office, and they have been terrific in assisting us in working closely with DHHS [Department of Health and Human Services]. I can say that DHHS staff were out at Flemington on New Year’s Day and their report was that we were a gold standard event, that it was the best event they had seen in Victoria to date.

“That gives us great confidence that we can work with them within the increased limits and get more people to Flemington.

“Beyond January, depending on movement rules and the restrictions that are in place we would like to think that we can increase the crowd to greater levels, even up to the 15,000 mark, but that will be depending on what is happening in the broader market with Covid and the restrictions that apply.”

Rosich says that the later starts for the twilight meetings (New Year’s Day’s fixture started at 2.25pm and the main features, the Bagot Handicap and the Standish Handicap were races three and four on the card and not in the quadrella) did not harm wagering, with turnover on the eight-runner Standish up 60 per cent on the figure a year earlier.

Flemington track manager Liam O’Keeffe says that the rail will be out six metres on Saturday and the track is currently a good four.

“We have had good rainfall this week, an inch earlier this week. We had a little bit of irrigation prior to that, and we will put some more water on tonight (Thursday) and tomorrow night and possibly again Saturday morning, given the later start with twilight racing and the big nine race card.”

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