Organisers hope Michelle Payne and Darren Weir’s fairytale Melbourne Cup win will help arrest a decline in crowd numbers on major race days.
Overall attendance for the four-race day Flemington carnival was down by 12,000 people to 313,000, the lowest since 1999.
The Victoria Racing Club blamed the decline on adverse weather including thunderstorms on Derby Day and Oaks Day.
“Given the weather – we had 54mm of rain across the week, and it rained every one of the days – getting a crowd of 313,000 across the four days we think is exceptional,” VRC chief executive Simon Love said.
He believed the headline-grabbing story of the first Melbourne Cup win by a female jockey and bush trainer Weir’s victory could help entice more racegoers next year.
“The story of Michelle Payne and Darren Weir has grabbed attention right around the world and it certainly can’t be a negative for next year’s carnival,” Mr Love told AAP.
The VRC is also seeking Victorian government funds to help rebuild the grandstand at Flemington racecourse.
“We’ve got an old grandstand built in the 1920s that needs to be replaced. We’re in discussions hoping the government can provide us some assistance,” Mr Love said.
“We think having world-class facilities that match a world-class event like the Melbourne Cup carnival will really help us drive the carnival to the next level.”
The VRC hopes to start the 18-month grandstand rebuild at the end of next year, after the 2016 Cup carnival.
CROWDS ON MAJOR RACE DAYS: (2015 v 2014)
* Caulfield Cup – 29,511 v 31,068
* Cox Plate (Moonee Valley) – 27,620 v 28,909
* Derby Day – 85,943 v 90,244
* Melbourne Cup Day – 101,015 v 100,794
* Oaks Day – 57,560 v 64,430
* Stakes Day – 68,711 v 70,051.
* Total Flemington four days – 313,229 v 325,519
Article from JustHorseRacing.com.au