'Wake up': Gai Waterhouse lashes 'ridiculous' Melbourne Cup farce

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·3-min read
Gai Waterhouse and Daniel Andrews, pictured here earlier in 2020.
Gai Waterhouse has lashed out at Daniel Andrews. Image: Getty

Gai Waterhouse has taken aim at Daniel Andrews after the Victorian government banned crowds from the 2020 Melbourne Cup.

The COVID-19 pandemic has conspired to ensure the famous Flemington racecourse will be crowd-free for Tuesday's $7.75 million race.

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Around 100,000 punters normally pack into Flemington for Melbourne Cup day, but on Tuesday there will be none.

While many felt it was the right call despite Victoria’s virus numbers declining in recent weeks, legendary trainer Waterhouse is fuming.

Waterhouse said the decision from the Andrews government was a complete overreaction.

“It’s quite ridiculous really, the way they’ve gone on in Victoria,” Waterhouse told Ben Fordham on 2GB on Tuesday.

“The Premier there should wake up and let people go on with their business.

“By all means social distance … but you can’t have the country cut off at the knees!”

Waterhouse’s comments came after the chairman of the Victorian Racing Club also expressed her disappointment.

“We were really puzzled by the fact even though we had very strict protocols, we had guidelines and worked scenarios back and forwards,” Amanda Elliott told the Herald Sun.

“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.”

Party to go on despite crowd-free Melbourne Cup

Attendance for the race that stops the nation has been dwindling recently, last year falling to its lowest point since 1995 as the temperature didn't creep above 19C.

The 2020 edition is set to be the hottest in six years, with the temperature forecast to hit 29C.

Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Rod Dickson is predicting dry and mostly sunny conditions across Victoria for the annual public holiday.

Melburnians can have two adults plus dependents from one household visit their house, with Cup organisers selling home-delivered gourmet food and alcohol packs curated by the likes of Neil Perry.

Alternatively, race-goers can opt to flock to parks and public gardens in groups of up to 10 to make the most of the fine weather.

Pubs and bars are also hoping to cash in on Tuesday's traditionally bumper trading day after finally reopening to customers last week.

Melbourne Cup Day at Flemington Racecourse, pictured here without fans.
Melbourne Cup Day at Flemington Racecourse without fans. (Reg Ryan/Racing Photos via Getty Images)

Dozens of businesses are hosting Cup day-themed events across the city, with outdoor and indoor dining limits of 50 and 20 respectively.

Fashion is always a feature of the entire four-day carnival and this year's Cup competition will go ahead with a twist.

The rebranded Fashion on The Front Lawn will allow trendsetters and dress-up types to don their finest fascinators, frocks and suits from the comfort of home.

Despite the absence of on-track betting, serious and occasional punters across the nation are expected to have a flutter to the tune of millions on the main race.

TAB expects to process over 100,000 wagers a minute at peak times on Tuesday, its biggest trading day of the year.

“We take as many as 20 million bets on the day,” Tabcorp's wagering managing director Adam Rytenskild told AAP.

Aiden O'Brien-trained pair Tiger Moth ($7.50) and Anthony Van Dyck ($9) and Paul Preusker's Surprise Baby ($8) are rated top chances for the 3200-metre Group One.

with AAP

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