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The Everest Plans For 15,000 Crowd

T
he Australian Turf Club (ATC) and Racing NSW’s centrepiece event, The Everest, is hoping for a crowd of up to 15,000 to attend Randwick on October 17, after applying for an exemption.

Last year, the event, which hopes to rival Melbourne’s Spring Carnival in the Australian thoroughbred racing market, had a crowd of 40,912, on the same day the Caulfield Cup has 28,000 racing fans in attendance.

However this year, due to the ongoing battle Victoria is facing with COVID-19, the Caulfield Cup, which is also set to take place on October 17, will be closed to spectators.

The ATC, in its request for exemption, proposed a two-square-metre rule for each spectator at Randwick, in hopes to double attendance at The Everest, with the current NSW Government laws meaning the event would only be able to host a crowd of 6,500.

Racing NSW chief executive, Peter V’landys, said doubling the allowed capacity would require at least an extra 300 staff, boosting the economy.

“It would be a good way to start to drive jobs and getting the economy going again,” V’landys said.

“If we can get more people into functions and to sporting events, it means the club and venues will need more staff.

“Racing has been a leader throughout the pandemic and has shown responsibility in keeping going and when we got crowds back to the tract, we have used effective protocols that have become a benchmark.

“The infection rate continues to drop, and the signs are good that the government could be ready to loosen restrictions,” he said.

ATC general manager for corporate and government affairs, Steve McMahon, said he believes the proposed plan for the Randwick event can work, with increased numbers on the lawn and doubled numbers allowed in dining and function areas.

“We have continued racing throughout this crisis and we were one of the first sports to come back with crowds,” McMahon said.

“We have a lot of experience at doing this in a COVID-safe way.

“We are a unique venue and would like to have uniformity across the whole [of] Randwick for Everest day for consistency and safety.

“At the moment we have different rules for different areas.

“We are more of a jigsaw puzzle than the chequered board they are using for stadiums, but we are wary of not overstretching our capacity for the spring meetings,” he said.

The Everest, in its fourth year running, has a total prize pool of $15 million, with the winner to receive $6.2 million, almost $2 million more than the winner of the Melbourne Cup.