Melbourne Cup attendees on alert after positive Covid-19 cases

·Sports Editor
·4-min read
Racegoers, pictured here as the horses parade around the mounting yard ahead of the Melbourne Cup.
Racegoers look on as the horses parade around the mounting yard ahead of the Melbourne Cup. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Victorians who attended the Melbourne Cup on Tuesday have been urged to be on alert after two people who were at Flemington Racecourse tested positive for Covid-19.

The Victoria Racing Club announced the news on Friday, saying it is working with Victorian health authorities.

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One of the positive cases is a contractor who worked at Flemington on Derby Day and Melbourne Cup Day.

The second positive case is a patron who was in attendance on Cup Day on Tuesday.

Both people are fully-vaccinated (as was a condition of entry), with Victoria Racing saying the cases are not linked.

The contractor was working in The Arbour in the Purple Zone on the ground floor of the Club Stand at Flemington.

Those who were in The Arbour have been advised to get tested if they display any symptoms, however they are deemed to be low risk.

The second positive case attended the deck bar within the Green Zone, with two close contacts identified and both fully-vaccinated.

“Patrons who attended the deck bar on Cup Day are being contacted directly via SMS by the VRC and staff have also been contacted," the VRC said in a statement.

“The safety of all patrons, staff, racing participants and horses is the VRC’s top priority.

“The two venues have been deep cleaned and will be ready for safe operation for Stakes Day on Saturday.”

A crowd of 10,000 fully-vaccinated patrons flocked to Flemington for the Melbourne Cup, just days after Victoria lifted its latest lockdown.

The crowd was capped by the Victorian government, with 100,000 usually descending on Flemington in non-Covid times.

Victoria recorded another 1343 Covid-19 infections and 10 deaths on Friday, with the state now managing 18,952 active cases.

Melbourne Cup-winning owner fined over Covid breach

The news comes after an owner of Melbourne Cup winner Verry Elleegant was fined $10,000 on Thursday for jumping a fence in celebration of Tuesday's victory in a breach of Flemington's Covid rules.

Prominent Melbourne businessman Brae Sokolski hopped the mounting yard fence to meet Verry Elleegant and jockey James McDonald after the mare streaked to a comfortable win in the $8 million race.

Under Racing Victoria and Victoria Racing Club coronavirus protocols, the area is strictly reserved for jockeys, trainers, media and other race day officials.

He also wasn't wearing a face mask, required under mounting yard rules.

Mr Sokolski was interviewed by Racing Victoria stewards on Thursday and pleaded guilty, reducing the severity of his sentence.

Racegoers, pictured here during the 2021 Melbourne Cup Day at Flemington.
Racegoers look on during the 2021 Melbourne Cup Day at Flemington. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

"Stewards heard submissions on penalty from Mr Sokolski and after doing so took into consideration his guilty plea, his candid evidence, his unblemished record over a long period of time and that he expressed remorse," Racing Victoria said in a statement.

"The stewards also took into consideration the nature of the offending, the potential ramifications that could flow from a breach of Racing Victoria's COVID-19 protocols, and that the penalty must be sufficient enough to deter others from breaching the COVID-19 protocols.

"Taking into account the above considerations, the stewards determined that Mr Sokolski be issued a fine of $10,000."

Mr Sokolski said it was an "impetuous decision" to jump the fence and the emotion of the moment "got the better" of him.

"It certainly wasn't premeditated and I am very apologetic," he told SEN radio before speaking to stewards.

"There is no excuse for that and those protocols are in place for good reason."

with AAP

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